After last season's debacle, no one expected the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to have a winning record in 2012.
In fact, many experts thought the Bucs would finish at the bottom of the NFC South behind the well-rounded Atlanta Falcons, high-powered New Orleans Saints, and the up-and-coming Carolina Panthers.
Well, not only does Tampa Bay have a winning record 10 games into the season but it is also sniffing around for a playoff spot.
The Bucs are currently 6-4 and are tied at the moment with the Seattle Seahawks for that final wildcard spot.
Making the playoffs this season would be quite an accomplishment in year one of the Greg Schiano era, but the Bucs are going to have to play lights out during this next 2-game stretch in order to make that happen.
Tampa Bay's next two opponents are as tough as they'll face all season. This week, they take on the division leading 9-1 Falcons at home. Then, the Bucs must travel out to Denver for a cold December game against the Broncos.
That's right; if the Bucs want a shot at the playoffs then their No. 32 ranked secondary will have to slow down the Falcons' explosive offense that features MVP candidate Matt Ryan throwing to Roddy White, Julio Jones (perhaps), and tight end Tony Gonzalez, and Peyton Manning, who is playing like his old self with 2,975 passing yards and 24 touchdowns.
The Bucs have the firepower to compete with both ball clubs; they are averaging an NFL-best 34.2 points per game in the last six games.
They are going to need both a ton of points and some strong play in the secondary if they want a shot at knocking off both the Falcons and Broncos to keep their playoff hopes alive.
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