Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 11/21/11

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 20: Head Coach Raheem Morris of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers watches from the sidelines during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 20, 2009 in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills won 33-20. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
They are walking a tight rope now. Tampa Bay heads into the final six games of the season with no margin for error, and one wrong step will send it hurtling to the turf short of expectations. One might have concluded that Sunday's unexpectedly dramatic 35-26 loss to the unbeaten Green Bay Packers sealed the Bucs' fate for 2011. But technically, the Bucs still can run the table and still finish 10-6 a record that failed to propel them into the playoffs last year, plus, there's no guarantee it would do the trick this season, either. Of course, simply getting to that point represents a long shot for a young team that continues to fall behind early, undercut its chances with costly penalties and rely on furious charges at the end to survive. That's precisely what the Bucs will have to try to do now: stage a comeback in the spirit of their baseball brethren from St. Petersburg, the Rays, whose landmark September tear landed them in the playoffs against all odds. Maybe it's a good thing that head coach Raheem Morris is a pal of Rays' newly named 2011 Manager of the Year Joe Maddon. Perhaps Morris should schedule some more practices at the Trop to soak up some of any lingering magic. The coach holds onto the hope his team can get the job done. It's not realistic to think the 4-6 Bucs could win the NFC South unless the first-place Saints (7-3) take a cue from the Red Sox and completely unravel. But they still have a theoretical chance of catching the second-place Falcons (6-4), with whom they conclude the regular season with a road game on Jan. 1. Morris maintains that the goals he set for his team to reach the postseason are still within reach. "They are," he said. "I told the players yesterday that we've got six more. We've got to go out there and knock off one at a time. We have to play every game and there's still time to get hot. We can still finish with the same record that we had last year if we have our minds right, and go out and play hard, fast, physical and smart. Those are things that can happen for us. And we have to go out there and think that way every single time we approach the field." That difficult road begins Sunday with the first of four remaining road games, this one against the Tennessee Titans, who fell to 5-5 with a 23-17 loss in Atlanta last Sunday. Here's a quick look at how realistic or not Morris' new mission of a 6-0 finish appears. The Titans don't represent an insurmountable challenge. They destroyed the promising, but raw, Carolina Panthers a week earlier 30-3, but remain in the lower-tier offensively (averaging 316 yards per game for 21st place, compared to the Bucs at 16th with 343). Defensively, they're in the lower-middle of the pack in yards allowed with 357 per game (No. 18), yet that's considerably better than the next-to-last-place Bucs with a 398 yards average. Starting quarterback Matt Hasselback has been out with a bum elbow, leaving rookie Jake Locker at the helm against Atlanta. Locker threw a pair of TDs, but he's not exactly Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. Tailback Chris Johnson isn't exactly Chris Johnson anymore, managing just two touchdowns this season while averaging 3.2 yards per carry. If the Bucs muster the same kind of urgency they displayed in Green Bay, you could see them leaving Nashville with a win. The next team up is 2-8 Carolina and rookie quarterback Cam Newton, who visit Raymond James Stadium Dec. 4. It's easy to project this as a Tampa Bay win, which could even the record at 6-6. Then comes a road game Dec. 11 to Jacksonville against the struggling 3-7 Jaguars, 14-10 losers Sunday to the equally weak Browns in Cleveland. On paper, it should be a winnable game for the Bucs, especially if they've gotten some momentum from the previous two games. The Bucs' showdown Saturday night, Dec. 17, on the other hand, is where their hopes could easily hit a wall. They host the Dallas Cowboys, who knocked off bitter rival Washington in overtime on the road Sunday and share the NFC East lead at 6-4 with the Giants. Though the Bucs should win the week after on Dec. 24 at Carolina, one could see the Panthers and the play-making Newton looking to salvage something positive out of their season giving the Bucs trouble. Tampa Bay has had its share of troubles in Carolina as well, losing two of its last three games there. Finally, the regular season concludes New Year's Day in Atlanta. The Bucs could be buoyed by their 16-13 victory at home in September, but winning on the road against an Atlanta team that very well may be playing for the postseason is a tall order. For what it's worth, Tampa Bay has lost its last three road meetings against the Falcons: 13-10 in 2008, 20-17 in 2009 and 27-20 in 2010. All in all, it's not the most treacherous final stretch one could imagine. They're not heading to New England in the dead of winter, or even facing the Cowboys in Dallas. If they win the first three and build a head of steam heading into the final three, who knows? But by any measure, the odds against a 6-0 finish are certainly stacked against them. Still, Morris says he sees a glimmer of light. "As I said to you guys early on, our goal was to win the division," he said. "We came out hot, hit a little sinkhole right here, and now it's time to come running out of that thing and get ready to go play. I've got a lot of confidence in those guys in that locker room that they will." There's just no room for any missteps up there on the high wire.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Alabama’s opening week starting QB is transferring

Report: Cubs sign Theo Epstein to five-year extension

Marlins players surrounded Jose Fernandez’s hearse during its procession

Jason Garrett: Dez Bryant has hairline fracture in knee

Newspaper runs insensitive headline following Mets win

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Curt Schilling plans to run against Elizabeth Warren in 2018

WATCH: Tebow homers on first pitch he sees in first game

Report: Garoppolo still dealing with shoulder pain, mobility

J.J. Watt placed on IR, reportedly expected to miss rest of 2016

Nationals GM: Strasburg ‘unlikely to pitch in NLDS’

Nebraska regent wants players kicked off team for kneeling during anthem

WNBA Semifinals preview: Will the rust show for Lynx, Sparks?

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

2016 Ryder Cup preview: Five things to watch this weekend

Ryan Kesler disappointed with lack of excitement at World Cup

Lesser known MMA fighters who could be ready for the WWE

Box Score: 9/28 - Bosh, FIFA, Ali and Mangenius

Geno Smith deletes Instagram post possibly critical of Jets

Most glaring flaw for each MLB playoff contender

The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns

FIFA 17 review: O jogo bonito

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WNBA Semifinals preview: Will the rust show for Lynx, Sparks?

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns

FIFA 17 review: O jogo bonito

To save his legacy Chris Bosh must first protect his health

What the NBA (and world) looked like before Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan

A fond farewell to Vin Scully

So where will the ACC football championship be played?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker