The season could be on the line for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and
San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon when the two teams hook up by the Bay.
Yes, these two are heading in completely opposite directions this year,
Tampa Bay is at 6-3, while San Fran is 3-6. However, the Bucs are just one game
back in the NFC South, while the Niners are two out in the NFC West.
Bucs Need to Think Big
The good news for Tampa Bay is that it has those six wins that we
previously made mention of. The bad news is that none of those 'W's have come
against teams that are probably going to be in the playoffs. On the flip side
of the coin, there are only three losses, but of those three losses, all three
came against teams that are almost certainly going to be in the second season.
That's why this is such a huge game for the Bucs. They have three games
left against these certain playoff teams, as they have to travel to the
Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints, while they play host to the Atlanta
Falcons on the first Sunday in December. A defeat here sets up an almost
certain doom for the fans in the Sunshine State, as there doesn't seem to quite
be the hope in place yet that the Bucs can really beat the brass of the NFC
South, let alone the rest of the NFL.
Ball Belongs to the Buckeye
Head Coach Mike Singletary really didn't have many other options. When
he installed QB Troy Smith as his starting quarterback for the game in England
against the Denver Broncos, he knew he was taking a huge chance. But now that
the former Ohio State Buckeye has won both of his starts, there's no turning
back. This is Troy Smith's team from here on in.
Smith has thrown for 466 yards in his last five quarters of action, and
the Niners have scored a whopping 44 points in that game and a quarter to show
for it. The new San Francisco lit it up when it counted most against the St.
Louis Rams on Sunday as well, leading the team on two scoring drives in a span
of seven minutes to take a seven point deficit and turn it into a three point
lead. Though the defense gave up the game tying field goal at the gun, Smith
rallied his troops in OT for the game winning 29 yard field goal.
A Blount Statement
After rushing for just 30 yards on ten carries in Tampa Bay's first
five games of the season, former Oregon Duck RB LeGarrette Blount has been
dynamo on the ground. He has wrestled the bulk of the carries away from RB
Cadillac Williams and has made those rushing attempts pay off. Blount has
rumbled for 329 yards and three TDs in his last four games, and is clearly
going to have to be the man that San Fran has to stop to contain this offense.
Stacking Up the NFL Odds
The Bucs probably wish that they never had to run up against San Fran.
They are just 4-12 SU against it since 1980 and have just a 7-9 ATS record in
those 16 duels. Tampa Bay has only won here against the Niners on the road once
in franchise history, that coming in the 1980 season. Since that point, it is
just 0-8 SU and 2-6 ATS.
More bad news for Head Coach Raheem Morris and company... The Niners
are 10-3-2 ATS in their last 15 games against teams with a winning record,
while Tampa Bay is just 5-11 ATS in its last 16 games following victories of at
least two touchdowns.
The Final Verdict
The Bucs are just overmatched in this game. The 49ers are going to
start to get on a roll here, while the visitors are just hanging on for dear
life based upon their schedule. This isn't a team like Carolina, that has already
provide Tampa Bay with two victories. Singletary will get in his squad's ears
this week that this is the most important game of the campaign, and San Fran
will pull off the win as short three point favorites.