Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers nose tackle Ndamukong Suh (93) looks on during an NFL preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

BUCS – GOAL LINE STAND : 49ERS
By Leo Haggerty

It’s finally here.  Opening day of the 2019 National Football League regular season and, I don’t know about you, I am so ready for the NFL games to count.

Tampa Bay opens the regular season with a 4:25 kickoff, weather permitting and I do expect that to be an issue, against San Francisco.  The Bucs are a slight favorite over the 49ers so you can expect a hard-fought and close contest.  In plain English, the last team having the pigskin will probably have a shot to win the game.

In my opinion, these are the four keys to a Bucs victory.  See if you agree.

1ST DOWN – STAY BALANCED ON OFFENSE 

Tampa Bay must establish a successful running game.  If they don’t, the 49ers will just have their defensive line go after QB Jameis Winston with a vengeance on every snap.  Definitely hazardous to the health of #3.

In my mind, the magic number is 24 when it comes to passes.  If the Bucs have to throw it more than a dozen times a half, one or two two things are happening.  The first is that the Tampa Bay running game is being stuffed.  The second is that the Buccaneers are playing catch up.  Neither alternative is a good one for the Pewter Pirates.

If the can keep their pass attempts under 24, that means the Bucs are rushing the football with some degree of success.  That slows down the pass rush along with controlling  the clock  as well as does wonders for the health and well being of your quarterback.  All three are good things.

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Demar Dotson (69) during an NFL preseason against the Cleveland Browns game at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber (25) runs for yardage against the Cleveland Browns during an NFL preseason game at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich looks on during an NFL preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

2ND DOWN – PLAY THROUGH ADVERSITY

Hey, its football, right?  With that being said, bad things are going to happen.  It the nature of the game from Pop Warner to the National Football League.

How the Bucs respond to the negativity will be crucial.  They have to play through the adversity and don’t let it effect the rest of the contest.

If the Pewter Pirates can do that, there’s an excellent chance they can win the football game.  If Tampa Bay cannot, and they let the bad Karma fester over the course of the tilt, it will be a long afternoon at the RayJay for the home team.

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Spencer Schnell (83) carries a flag coming out of the tunnel before an NFL preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers players run out of the tunnel before an NFL preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers players run out of the tunnel before an NFL preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

3RD DOWN – GET AT LEAST TWO TURNOVERS

This game will probably be decided on who makes the least amount of mistakes.  The team that forces the opposition into the most turnovers should end up with their score on the left side of the dash on the scoreboard.

Look for Bucs DC Todd Bowles to throw everything, and the kitchen sink, at San Fran QB Jimmy Garoppolo.  He’s hoping that he catches the 49ers signal caller making a wrong read that creates a big play turnover.

The Buccaneers defense will need at least two of them.  The Bowles 3-4 sells out a lot on passing situations and it’s risk versus reward.

Tampa Bay needs to have more rewards.  That will go a long way to winning the opener.

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon III Hargreaves (28) during an NFL preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

4TH DOWN – KEEP WINSTON CLEAN

This could be the most important key of the four.  Why, you ask?  Because there’s an extremely good possibility that the Pewter Pirates will have to air it out if the running game doesn’t materialize.

#3 has a propensity to be a bit erratic when pressured.  That’s not a knock on Winston.  All QBs in the National Football League are less effective when they are looking up at the action from the ground.

When we get to the fourth quarter, check out the color of the uniform that Jameis has on.  If it looks as white as snow, the Bucs are probably winning.  If it looks like he’s been playing in the mud, the Pewter Pirates are most likely on the right side of the dash on the scoreboard and that’s not a good thing.

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) throws a pass against the Cleveland Browns during an NFL preseason game at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; A Buccaneers cheerleader perform before an NFL preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; A Buccaneers cheerleader performs before an NFL preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; A Buccaneers cheerleader performs before an NFL preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

So, it’s time to predict the outcome.  I’m saying Bucs win by a score of 23-20 on a last-second field goal by rookie kicker Matt Gay.  Maybe even in overtime.

Hey, how else do you expect the Bucs to win?  You have to come up with a way to top  a pregame concert by Tim McGraw.  No better way to do that than keep the home fans on the edge of their seats until the final play and then send them home happy.

Finally, all action shot by photo-journalist Steve Jacobson.  Great job, as usual.

See you tomorrow to see what transpires.  Enjoy.

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Buccaneers cheerleaders perform before an NFL preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Buccaneers cheerleaders perform before an NFL preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Buccaneers cheerleaders perform before an NFL preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians watches practice before an NFL preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians watches practice before an NFL preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Buccaneers cheerleaders perform before an NFL preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers punter Bradley Pinion (8) attempts to punt the ball against the Cleveland Browns during an NFL preseason game at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber (25) runs for yardage against the Cleveland Browns during an NFL preseason game at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during an NFL preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay (9) attempts to kick a field goal in the 1st quarter of play against the Cleveland Browns during an NFL preseason game at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)

Aug 23, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers punter Bradley Pinion (8) attempts to punt the ball against the Cleveland Browns during an NFL preseason game at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs beat the Browns 13-12. (Steve Jacobson)