BUCS : GOAL LINE STAND : ATLANTA
By Leo Haggerty

Tampa Bay hosts Atlanta Sunday in the final National Football League regular season contest. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 PM at Raymond James Stadium weather permitting.

This tilt is a battle for the cellar in the National Football Conference South Division. The Falcons are 6-9 and coming off a win at Carolina. The Bucs are 5-10 after a road loss to Dallas.

Below are the four boxes I feel the Pewter Pirates need to check to emerge victorious. Enjoy.

1ST DOWN

YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME

Yes, I realize that it would be beneficial for the Bucs to lose when it comes to getting a better draft position. That shouldn’t matter because, as Herm Edwards said so succinctly, “You play to win the game” and that should always be the prime directive of the Buccaneers.

Fans have paid good money to watch their team make an effort to win. They didn’t come to Raymond Janes Stadium to watch the Bucs roll over and play dead.

Let me remind Bucs fans the last time Tampa Bay tanked. It was a season-ending home game against Nee Orleans.

The Buccaneers conveniently came up on the short end of the score. That loss secured the first pick in the draft and the Bucs chose QB Jameis Winston.

Since then, the football gods have been punishing Tampa Bay for that indiscretion. *3 has struggled on the field, continuously making the same mistakes game after game, as well as off the field with some very questionable decisions.

My advice is don’t anger the football gods again. Play to win and let the cards fall where they may in the draft.

2ND DOWN

DON’T LET 11 BEAT YOU

Double Falcons WR Julio Jones. If he goes for a soda, buy him a pretzel. It’s thst simple.

You cannot allow the Falcons receivet to beat you as he has done so often in the past. Make another Atlanta player make the splash plays because they most probably won’t.

3RD DOWN

MAKE A PLAY

On offense, make the big play when the opportunity presents itself. Make the big run or the big throw or the big catch.

On defense, make the big stop. Break up the pass or get the sack or secure the tackle before the sticks.

On special teams, be special. Make all kicks and don’t allow any big returns.

4TH DOWN

WIN 3RD DOWN

This is simple. On defense, get off the field. On offense, move the chains.

OK, it’s time for my prediction. Sadly, I have to take the Falcons in this contest.

Why, you ask? I just don’t think the Buccaneers can pressure Atlanta QB Matt Ryan to stop Jones from catching at least a half dozen calls with two of them for scores.

ATL, 24-21, to keep the Bucs alone at the bottom of the NFC South division. Wait until next yesr all over again.