Sunday Night Football, Week 16. Tonight the Arizona Cardinals host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 6-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers come into this game one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL. A team many expected to compete for a Super Bowl championship instead finds itself needing to close with three straight wins just to avoid a losing record this season. Despite the poor record, the Buccaneers sit atop the woeful NFC South standings, needing a victory tonight to maintain a one game lead over the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints in the division. For those forever hoping for the demise of Tom Brady, this season has been your cup of tea. Brady, despite leading the NFL in passing attempts, ranks 7th in passing yards, 19th in passer rating, and 21st in QBR. The GOAT has finally, after all these years, dropped into the ranks of the mediocre NFL quarterbacks. The Buccaneers’ offense has followed suit. They have scored more than 23 points just once all year. Tampa Bay has not beaten a winning football team since an opening day victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Fortunately for the Buccaneers, they will not be facing a winning football team tonight. This is a bad Buccaneers team, but they still may be just good enough to win the NFC South.
The 4-8 Arizona Cardinals limp into this game having won just 1 of their last 7 games. Starting quarterback Kyler Murray is lost for the year to an injury, and the Cardinals are just playing out the string, tied for the 2nd worst record in the NFL. The Cardinals generally can’t score much and can’t keep their opponents from scoring in bunches. They don’t pass the ball particularly well or run the ball particularly well. They don’t stop the pass well or stop the run well. That is no way to win football games.
The Cardinals have won 3 of the last 5 games between these two teams. I expect the Buccaneers to take this one.
It’s not much of a matchup for a primetime game, but it’s still NFL football, and for those of you enjoying the long awaited decline of Tom Brady, perhaps this game will provide some holiday cheer.