The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have put themselves on course for a second run at the Super Bowl to attempt to become the first team since the 2004 New England Patriots to win successive titles. The common denominator between the Buccaneers and that Patriots team is of course the GOAT, Tom Brady. He was the key factor in the Patriots’ run of success over 20 years before making the decisive impact to turn the Buccaneers from NFC South strugglers to Super Bowl winners.
The competition in the NFC will be rife in the post-season with a number of quality outfits, but the Buccaneers are backed as +450 favourites in the NFL betting odds to win the crown. A look at the NFL tips for today highlights the contenders for the Super Bowl in the NFC alone from teams such as the Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, and the Arizona Cardinals. All will threaten the Bucs’ attempt to push towards Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, but Bruce Arians and his team do hold a decisive advantage over their rivals in the NFC.
The advantage is Brady. No player in the NFL has his experience and poise under pressure under the brightest of lights. In the post-season, where the result can be decided by one play, Brady has excelled and continues to do so even at the age of 44. Brady has produced an MVP-calibre campaign, and could yet win the award for a fourth time, taking him one behind Peyton Manning’s all-time record of five MVP wins.
Tampa Bay have had to rely on their quarterback more than usual due to the litany of injuries in the secondary. Brady has been forced to outscore his opponents akin to his days with Randy Moss and Wes Welker at the Patriots when he was at the peak of his powers. Now that the Buccaneers are getting their secondary back into shape, they are ready for a rounded effort in the post-season in the manner that delivered the Super Bowl last term.
The clinical edge and experience of Brady give the Bucs a huge advantage over their potential rivals. It was evident in the NFC Championship Game last season when Brady’s first-half performance overmatched Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at Lambeau Field. Rodgers and the Packers have failed four times in the NFC Championship Game since winning the Super Bowl in the 2010 season. For one reason or another, they simply cannot get over the line. It has never been a problem for Brady.
The other contenders have relative rookies when it comes to extended playoff experience at quarterback. Matt Stafford lost all three of his starts in the post-season with the Detroit Lions. Although he has improved significantly at the Lions, he has not had a signature moment in the post-season and the occasion has proven to be too much for him to handle in the past. Kyler Murray with the Cardinals has not competed in the post-season before and could be without his primary target DeAndre Hopkins.
Arizona have been a nice story this term, but the Bucs will not fear playing the Cardinals even on the road. The Cowboys could be an interesting opponent, but the pathway would be a home game for the Bucs, and having already beaten Dallas this term, Arians and his team will have confidence. Once more it appears Tampa Bay are trending towards the Super Bowl.