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Tampa 2sDay: Can the 2-3 Bucs make a playoff push?

The bye week is upon us, Bucs fans. Our team just took out the reigning NFC Champions on Monday Night Football with a last second, game-winning field goal off the struggling foot of second round rookie, Roberto Aguayo. So how do we feel at 2-3 heading into the bye? Is there a chance this team can make a playoff push after the bye with a grueling 11 game stretch to finish the season? Our own Ryan Adams tackles this week’s Tampa 2sDay topic all by his lonesome as he gives you the brass tacks on both sides of the coin.

Yes – Bucs finish 9-7 and make the playoffs as a wild card.

After the bye week, the Bucs will be healthy again. Pending any setbacks, running back Doug Martin will return for the Week 7 game against the San Francisco 49ers (1-4) out west. Defensive end, Robert Ayers, is also expected back as is defensive tackle and captain, Gerald McCoy. Nothing has come down saying defensive tackle Clinton McDonald couldn’t be back for the San Fran game, either. Ayers and Martin have both missed the last four games, of which the Bucs went 1-3 after both of them turned out solid performances in the Week 1 victory over the Falcons (4-1) in Atlanta. Now that the Niners have given Colin Kaepernick back the reigns, that game should be more competitive than it may have looked before the season began. The Niners are, no doubt, a better team with CK under center. However, a healthy Bucs squad is more talented and should still come away with another big road win. Following the San Fran game, the Bucs play the next three weeks at home beginning with a tough task in the Oakland Raiders (4-1) followed by a Thursday night game against the Falcons who could very well win the NFC South. Even if the Bucs drop both those games, they have very winnable games against the Bears (1-4) and at Kansas City (2-2) to make up for those losses. The rest of the way, if the cards play out how they should, only the Seahawks (3-1) and Cowboys (4-1) should stand in the way of the Bucs first winning season since 2010 and their first playoff birth since 2007…pending there are no more runs called on third and nine with the game-winning drive hanging in the balance.

No – Bucs finish 6-10, again, and miss the playoffs…again.

The good news here is that even at 6-10 they most likely break a five year streak of finishing in last place in the NFC South. So there’s your “glass half full” approach. The Saints and Panthers are both pretty bad with New Orleans getting a slight edge in awfulness. However, let’s say Doug Martin comes back, healthy, but doesn’t quite have that 2015 swagger he had that led him to being the second best rusher in all the NFL last season. Let’s say Gerald McCoy has yet another season of single-digit sacks and the Bucs still struggle to get to the opposing quarterbacks, leading to an already sub-par secondary to look even worse…as they have most of the first five games this season. Let’s say Noah Spence never pans out this year and he continues to lose playing time to fellow rookie defensive end and DaVonte Lambert. Let’s say first round pick, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, continues to struggle in his own rookie campaign. Let’s say…Jameis Winston has more multiple turnover games and finishes the season among the league leaders in that category. Let’s say all of that happens including the continued struggles of Aguayo and the Bucs finish with back-t0-back 6-10 records even with Kwon Alexander playing all 16 games. Well then – you might just be looking at yet another coaching change at One Buc Place come January. Of course, that’s a lot of completely horrid circumstances that would pretty much all need to happen for this team to finish that badly with the schedule that remains over the final 11 games. Then again – it is the Bucs we’re talking about, right?

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