Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Daniel Stackhouse, Sports Editor

Going into the 2021 NFL Playoffs, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were boom or bust. They had the potential to take down any team in their way but they also struggled with consistency issues throughout the entire season. This postseason the Buccaneers are the wild card team turned NFC champions.

Tampa Bay got to this point by bolstering an offense with powerful weapons, a young, yet feisty defense, and a strong coaching core to keep the team together. Their roster is filled with new talent and old faces that all gel together. Most notably is a name everybody knows: Tom Brady.

I despise seeing [Tom Brady] continue to reign over the league, but I respect him for all that he has been able to accomplish.”

— Sports Editor Daniel Stackhouse

I thought his career was done after last season. He was visibly on the decline in his final season with the New England Patriots. I thought he was going to finally reach the end of his career in Tampa Bay. I was fooled. He led the Bucs offense while seemingly finding the fountain of youth at age 43.

Now he is chasing not just football immortality, specifically, but sports immortality. With a seventh ring, he will be put into the pantheon of sports legends with Wayne Gretzky, Babe Ruth, and Michael Jordan. I despise seeing him continue to reign over the league, but I respect him for all that he has been able to accomplish.

His supporting cast may be the best he has ever had. In the backfield with him is Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II. Both have bolstered the running game and added a solid second dimension to the passing game.

The receiving core is a game of picking your poison. You have Mike Evans, one of the top receivers in the league, Chris Godwin, who has emerged as one of the best number two receivers in the league, and tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is not what he used to be but he is still a reliable weapon. There are also other unsung weapons Scotty Miller, and Antonio Brown in his return to the league.

Despite being salty due to how Brown burned bridges in three different cities, he seems in better health and set on turning his career around. This offense has brought this team in big numbers, ranking seventh in yards and third in points scored.

On the defensive side of the ball, Tampa Bay has weapons, new and old, from top to bottom. This group ranked in at eighth for points allowed and sixth for yards given up. Their front four is filled with dangerous veterans, including defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh.

Behind the d-line is another layer to their dangerous pass rush, most notably outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, a dangerous monster who has been racking up sacks. There are also inside linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White who help round out a phenomenal front seven. Their secondary is no joke, helping the defense rack up 15 interceptions on the season.

At the top there is head coach Bruce Arians. While he won rings as an assistant coach, he has yet to win a ring as a head coach. Even with the great Arizona teams he coached in the early 2010s, this is his first time at the big game as a head coach. The work he did to take the Buccaneers from forgettable to a Super Bowl contender is astounding.

Throughout this team are several ambitious players all united for the same goal. Early in the season, Brady and Arians clashed, but ultimately reconciled as they grew an understanding for each other and their goals as the season went on. The whole team ended up coming together and creating a threatening force with a lot to root for.

Whether it be Brady padding his legacy, Arians getting his first ring as head coach, or even Brown redeeming his past errors, this is a team that is incredibly interesting as the underdog to the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Kansas City has an unrealistically fantastic offense, but their defense is lacking enough for Tampa Bay to be able to keep pace. Especially with both of their starting tackles questionable to play, the Buccaneer pass rush is going to do them wonders in this game.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to have every ounce of fire power to take the Lombardi Trophy and ride high this Sunday.

Prediction: Tampa Bay 31, Kansas City 30

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