In what will be the first NFL game ever played on German soil, the Buccaneers will try and string together consecutive wins for the first time since week 2 when they face off against one of the league's biggest surprises, the Seattle Seahawks, this Sunday at Allianz Arena in Munich.
Since trading away Russell Wilson, and handing the keys to journeyman backup quarterback, Geno Smith, the vibes in Seattle have been nothing but positive. Smith represents one of the best comeback stories in the league this season. And not only does he have full control of the offense, but he's become a legitimate concern for opposing defenses due to his accuracy, arm strength, and newfound ability to operate off-script and outside of the pocket, while at the same time, taking care of the football like the savvy veteran he is.
Smith has thrown for 15 touchdowns, and just 4 interceptions, with a quarterback rating, and a PFF grade (87.0) significantly higher than Tom Brady's. Most importantly, his Seattle Seahawks are 6-3 on the year and currently sit atop the NFC West.
With an established duo of talented wide receivers in Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, a rookie running back who already looks like one of the most dynamic players in the league in Kenneth Walker III, and a rejuvenated Geno Smith under center, the Seahawks' offense — unlike Russell Wilson and his unlimited, cringe-worthy persona — is genuinely good, and easy to root for.
On the defensive side, the Seahawks have been turning ahead as well. They aren't great...yet, but they're good. PFF currently has them with an overall defensive grade of 66.5 — tied with Tampa Bay for 13th best in the league — with plenty of youth, and talent on the roster.
Which is a testament to some exceptional draft picks made by their general manager, John Schneider, who many thought was passed his prime following the collapse of the legion of boom. Most of the criticism stems from Schneider's insane decision to trade two firsts, and a third-round pick to the New York Jets in exchange for Jamal Adams in 2020 — an oft-injured linebacker disguised as a safety.
But this year has been a redemption story for Schneider. Seattle has gotten incredible production from two late-round draft picks at the cornerback position in Coby Bryant (109th selection) and Tariq Woolen (153). With Woolen already earning a reputation as one of the league's best at the position. Throw in a couple of strong second-round picks, including edge rusher, Boye Mafe, and the aforementioned Kenneth Walker, and Schneider has managed to add four impact starters to his team, with each of them playing on an extremely affordable contract for the next several seasons. He deserves a ton of credit.
For the Buccaneers, we all know the story that has been this season. It's one that most in Tampa Bay would prefer to forget. Although it may be hard to believe, it's not too late for this Bucs team to turn things around. It may not be promising, at least based on the product the team has put on the field so far this season, but there is still time to right the ship.
If you ask me, the pressure is squarely on the offense. Despite some inconsistencies on the defense side — most notably amongst the front-7, and more specifically, their inability to stop the run — the defense has played well enough for the Bucs' to have several more wins than they do.
Coming off their first victory in well over a month, and heading into this matchup vs. the Seahawks on foreign soil, the pressure is (and should be) on every single person associated with this Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense. That includes Tom Brady, the offensive line, the receivers, the running backs, and the coaches. Literally everyone.
There are two things working in the Bucs' favor. First, is the fact that they're coming off a much-needed win vs. the Rams that saw Tom Brady and the offense drive the length of the field with less than a minute on the clock, and no timeouts, to score a game-winning touchdown in the final moments. Valuable momentum.
The second thing working in Tampa Bay's favor is that I expect the massive crowd in Munich to be, for the most part, cheering for Tom Brady, and the Buccaneers. So despite being 4,978 miles away from home, this very well could feel like a home game for the Buccaneers. And a raucous one at that.
Despite their flaws, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still hold the top position in the NFC South. And with the Seattle Seahawks in a similar position in the NFC West, this game is undoubtedly a significant one for both teams.
If this were a Week 1 matchup, the Bucs would've been favored by double digits. But now, with the Seahawks outperforming the Buccaneers in almost every way, it's much closer than that. Still, the depth of talent on this Bucs' roster is superior to that of the Seahawks, which is why they are still favored by a field goal. But the opinion of Vegas oddsmakers hasn't stopped the Bucs from laying an egg in the majority of their games this season.
There's not much else to say.
It's time for what should be a very well-oiled, high-powered Buccaneers' offense to act like it, and for the first time this season... put up some damn points. The rest should take care of itself.
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