The Buccaneers are having one of their best seasons in franchise history.
The Bucs are currently 7-3 and looking to win the division and make a deep playoff run.
If the Bucs are going to position themselves to win the division, these next two games are must-wins against two of the better teams in the league, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Kansas City Chiefs.
A split in these two games would put the Bucs at 8-4 before their bye week.
These two games are the hardest games left on the Bucs schedule as they will wrap up the season with games against Minnesota, Detroit, and two games against Atlanta.
The key to how the Bucs play down the stretch offensively will be the play of the offensive line and the consistency of the running game.
The Bucs have had two awful games from the offensive line, and they both resulted in losses to the Chicago Bears, and the New Orleans Saints.
With Ali Marpet out of the lineup, the Bucs have had one good game from the offensive line, a 45-23 win in Carolina.
The line combination that has worked the best is moving Ryan Jensen to guard and starting A. Q. Shipley at the center.
As Tom Brady goes, so goes the hopes and dreams of this Buccaneer team. Keep Brady’s jersey clean, give Brady time to throw, and the Bucs are going to win the majority of those games.
The running game led by Ronald Jones has to be able to close out games in the fourth quarter. Leonard Fournette did that well in a game against the Panthers in the second game of the season, and Ronald Jones closed one out as well against the Chargers.
You must be able to run the ball effectively in the fourth quarter to put the game in the win column.
The Bucs front seven has to continue to get pressure on the opposing quarterback. We’ve seen it all season. When opposing quarterbacks have time, they can pick apart the Bucs secondary.
The New Orleans Saints, who currently lead the division with an 8-2 record, will be without their quarterback Drew Brees for at least three weeks with 11 fractured ribs.
Buc fans were hoping that Jameis Winston would be put into that starting role, but Saints coach Sean Peyton is a bit smarter than that.
Taysom Hill got the start this week against the Falcons, and the Saints were winners in Hill’s first start 24-9.
The Saints are holding a half-game lead on the Bucs for first place in the division, and also have the tie-breaker advantage.
The schedule also favors the Saints. They have one team on the schedule with a record above .500, that is the Kansas City Chiefs.
What is not in the Saint’s favor is that four of the final six are on the road.
The Bucs have two games against possible playoff teams in the Los Angeles Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs. Both are at home.
The Bucs need to keep on winning. Control what they can. Hopefully, when the dust settles, the Bucs are sitting atop the NFC North and hosting playoff games at Raymond James Stadium for the first time since 2008.