FIVE BUCS KEYS VS CARDS
It's still early, very very early which makes it dangerous to do what I'm about to do....but here goes....
With four games down and twelve to go, an awful lot can happen but it's time for the Bucs to make it happen--especially against this opponent.
The Arizona Cardinals are the ONLY team left on their schedule with a losing record. (I know it's early) Yes even those Bills and Jets check in over .500 so far and we all know how tough the NFC South is where these Buccos still haven't played any division games.
So it's time for the Bucs to kick a team while they're down and these Cards are down in the dumps coming off a 34-7 beatdown at the hands of the Eagles---reminiscent of the Cards beatdown of Tampa Bay a year ago.
Koetter and company hope to avoid Deja Desert Vu all over again where here are my five keys for a Bucs' victory.
(1) FEED DOUG MARTIN: The Bucs feature back was more than impressive against New England (doesn't that game seem like it was 10 years ago?) but against the Pats the Bucs inexplicably abandoned Martin at times which proved costly.
When Doug Martin is at his best this offense has proven to be at its best too---he's had plenty of practice time after the mini-bye, so time to feed Martin early and often.
(2) ST PATRICK'S DAY?: The Bucs kicking carousel has rolled past Aguayo and Folk and now landed on Patrick Murray who says his return trip to Tampa has him stronger mentally and physically.
Nick Folk left a torturous 16 points on the board the past two weeks where getting help from this position will be a needed Bucs' boost----time for Murray to step up and fill the void.
(3) WINSTON'S WAKE UP CALL? : Jameis Winston has finished strong the past two weeks but has struggled early which needs to change out west.
Winston has been great cutting down picks but needs to make more big plays in the first two quarters to set the tempo for his team on the road.
A year ago, Winston had arguably the worst game of his pro career throwing four interceptions against an always opportunistic Cardinals defense----a year later he hopes for a reversal of fortune beginning with an early wake up call in the desert.
(4) WELCOME BACK PARTY: The defense played well enough to win against New England holding Tom Brady and company under 20 points.
The "mini" bye week has helped this Bucs "D" heal a bit where they will welcome back linebacker Lavonte David and safety TJ Ward.
David's return will take pressure off of rookie linebacker Kendell Beckwith where the rook has had to hold down the fort with both David and Kwon Alexander out of the lineup the past two weeks.
Those Bucs safeties can't stick together either as Keith Tandy will miss this game but Ward's return should only boost this unit.
(5) SHUT DOWN "FITZ" It's 2017 and Arizona's biggest offensive weapon remains a future Hall of Famer and I'm not talking about newly acquired Adrian Peterson.
34 year young Larry Fitzgerald still isn't acting his age where through five games he has 32 catches and 327 yards.
The Bucs secondary will have it's hands full but has to limit the damage.
PREDICTION: I really thought the Bucs would beat the Patriots (wrong) but I really really like them against the Cardinals. I think they correct things on offense early and actually find DeSean Jackson deep for a first half score--combine that with more Doug Martin and a healthier Bucs defense----sign me up for a 31-24 victory.
UNTIL NEXT BLOG,