They tell stories, at least if you belive in that sort of thing. There are those who feel the ball is not round, and therefore anything can happen on any play which can change the flow of the game allowing for any possible result at any time. Then you have the other side, that feel the game is a pattern of numbers and trends and those patterns maintain themselves. Im in the middle…but there is no denying that since the NFC South was conceived in 2002, there has been a freaky trend where every team that finishes in last place the year before, will make the playoffs the next season. Actually, the team usually WINS the division, but the lone exception was in 2008 when the Falcons won the wild-card after finishing last in 2007. Lets take a look: LAST PLACE FINISH Next Years Result 2002 Carolina 7-9 Carolina 11-5 2003 Atlanta 5-11 Atlanta 11-5 2004 Tampa Bay 5-11 Tampa Bay 11-5 2005 New Orleans 3-13 New Orleans 10-6 2006 Tampa Bay 4-12 Tampa Bay 9-7 2007 Atlanta 4-12 Carolina 12-4, Atlanta 11-5 WC 2008 New Orleans 8-8 New Orleans 13-3 2009 Tampa Bay 3-13 ???????? So the pattern there is undeniable, but what causes it? No one knows for sure. Before you explain it with the last place schedule let me remind you that only 2 games (that’s right, TWO GAMES) are determined by your finish in the standings. That’s it. If you finish last, you get to play the last place team from the two divisions your NOT scheduled to play already. For this season, the Bucs picked up games against the Lions and Redskins, the last place teams from the NFC East and Central. Nope, the truth is no one can really explain the trend, but it does continue. Now, were not done evaluating here, because there are some major trends just between the Bucs and Saints when they play each other! For the most part, the Bucs will beat the Saints on the road more often than not while losing to them here at home. The exception to that is when the Bucs win the NFC South, they tend to sweep the Saints; even a Saints team with Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, and company. The lone exception to this of course was the 2002 Super Bowl season, where the Saints swept us! Of course there is a Lombardi trophy sitting at One Buc to ease the pain! 2002- Saints Sweep. Result-Bucs Division Championship, Super Bowl 2003- Lost at Home, Won on the Road 2004- Lost at Home, Won on the Road 2005- Buccaneers Sweep Result-Bucs Division Championship 2006- Saints Sweep Result- Saints Division Championship 2007- Bucs Sweep Result- Bucs Division Championship 2008- Won at Home, Lost on the Road 2009- Lost at Home, Won on the Road 2010- Totaled up, that’s a 3-5 record at Raymond James against these Saints, and a 5-3 record against them in New Orleans. The only time the Bucs won at home and lost in the dome was 2008, other than that, Tampa Bay always seems to win the road game and lose the home match. But when we win the division, we sweep New Orleans. So one game may not predict the future, but if you follow the trends and patterns, you can pretty much see where a win Sunday may take the team. Then you have the score, which also is very consistent! Only three of the 16 times they’ve played each other has one of the teams won by more than a touchdown. All three have come at Raymond James. We should have no problem forgetting that 38 to 7 drubbing last year in Jim Bates farewell game as DC. But the other two lopsided wins were 31 to 14, a loss in 2006 where Bruce Gradkowski caught on fire at the end of the half. In Fact, lets take a look at that game in our Saints @ Bucs flashback- to that afternoon in week 8.
so what happened in this game? The Bucs got the ball to come out in the 3rd qtr but failed to convert on 3rd and short. The Saints took the ball on the punt and scored a Touchdown to make it 24-14 and that as they say was that! The next year, the Bucs suprised the Saints to the tune of a 31-14 win. The SuperDome has kept the close scores, with 7 points being the largest margin of victory. Other than the 38-7 game, the margin of victory is 5 points! So this weekends game could have a lot to say about how the Bucs finish off the season. If your that kind of person, of course!