Originally posted on The Football Fan Spot  |  Last updated 11/8/12
Last week: 11 (+8) Record: 4-4 The Buccaneers are surging thanks to Doug Martin’s improved play and the improved chemistry between Josh Freeman and new free agent acquisition Vincent Jackson. They’ve won 3 of 4 and sit at 4-4 with a +41 points differential that ranks 6th in the loaded NFC (for reference, it’d be 4th in the AFC). They rank 12th in yards per play differential and 14th in rate of sustaining drives differential. If history is any indication, they’re more likely to make it than some other borderline playoff teams in the NFC right now. Every year, 5 new playoff teams make the playoffs that didn’t make it the year before, dating back 17 straight years. I use this in my Power Rankings every week. Right now, Chicago, who didn’t make the playoffs last year, looks like a lock to make it this year. Meanwhile, Cincinnati and New Orleans, two playoff teams from a year ago, look very unlikely to make it this year. Indianapolis, sitting at 5-3, is another solid bet to make the playoffs after missing it last year. Detroit, at 4-4, probably has to go 6-2 the rest of the way to make the playoffs, against a brutal schedule, so they’re probably out. Other than that, not much is set in stone. Miami, San Diego, Minnesota, Seattle, and Tampa Bay are the serious candidates for the other 3 spots in the 5 in category, while, in my opinion, Green Bay and Baltimore, thanks to injury, seem to be in the strongest (weakest?) position to be the other 2 out. Philadelphia and Dallas were candidates to be in the 5 in group before losses last week and that pretty much locked the Giants, another 5 out candidate, into a playoff spot. Pittsburgh is another 5 out candidate, but I think they’re a better team than Baltimore right now and will sweep the two games against them, but we’ll know more in the next few weeks. With New Orleans, Detroit, and Green Bay out, that opens two more spots in the AFC, with Chicago already pretty safely locked into taking New Orleans’s vacated spot. I think Tampa Bay and Seattle have the edge over Detroit and Minnesota because those two teams have brutal schedules going forward. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has some easier games against New Orleans, Carolina, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and San Diego, with only a trip to Denver and two games against Atlanta as games against likely playoff teams. Studs LG Richie Incognito: Did not allow a pressure on 42 pass block snaps, run blocked for 30 yards and a touchdown on 5 attempts, 1 penalty RG John Jerry: Did not allow a pressure on 42 pass block snaps, run blocked for 6 yards on 3 attempts WR Brian Hartline: Caught 8 passes for 107 yards on 9 attempts on 40 pass snaps, 2.8 YAC per catch LOLB Kevin Burnett: 5 solo tackles, 3 assists, 4 stops, 1 missed tackle, 1 quarterback hit on 9 blitzes, allowed 3 catches for 31 yards on 4 attempts SS Reshad Jones: Didn’t allow a catch on 1 attempt, 1 pass deflection, 3 solo tackles, 1 quarterback hit on 6 blitzes LE Cameron Wake: 1 sack, 3 quarterback hits, and 3 quarterback hurries on 45 pass rush snaps, 2 solo tackles, 1 assist, 2 stops LE Derrick Shelby: 1 quarterback hit and 3 quarterback hurries on 7 pass rush snaps, 1 solo tackle, 1 stop, 1 missed tackle P Brandon Fields: 4 punts for 213 yards, 2 inside 20, 4 returns for 29 yards, 46.0 net yards per punt Duds LT Jake Long: Allowed 1 sack, 3 quarterback hits, and 2 quarterback hurries on 42 pass block snaps, 2 penalties TE Anthony Fasano: 1 catch for 8 yards on 3 attempts on 27 pass snaps, 2.0 YAC per catch, 1 penalty CB Jimmy Wilson: 4 solo tackles, 1 batted pass, allowed 8 catches for 99 yards on 10 attempts
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