The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the fifth Wild Card team since 2000 to make it to the Super Bowl, defeating the Green Bay Packers 31-26 at Lambeau Field.
Their prize? A Super Bowl at their home stadium, the first team to ever have the opportunity. We’ll take a look at the Super Bowl matchup and our favorite bets next week, but a quick look at how Tampa Bay got here.
Laying the Foundation
The journey can’t start anywhere but in the offseason, when the Buccaneers assembled a veteran-heavy roster, highlighted by the one and only Tom Brady. The decorated former Patriot brought championship experience and leadership to a Buccaneer franchise that hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since 2002. He also brought old friends Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown to Tampa.
Coupled with additions like Leonard Fournette, the offense had the big names in place to make a run. The strong defensive core from the year before completed a well-balanced Buccaneers team.
Wild Card Run
Tampa Bay locked up the fifth seed in the NFC on the back of an 11-5 regular season record. For Tampa to make it to the Super Bowl, they’d have to win all three games on the road.
It started in Washington, where they likely got the best draw: a 7-9 Washington team led by a resilient fourth-string quarterback. The Buccaneers won 31-23 thanks to 13 fourth quarter points.
Next up was a date with the New Orleans Saints and a battle between all-time greats in Brady and Drew Brees. The Saints were the No. 2 seed in the NFC and would have been fresh off a bye week if the league hadn't expanded the playoffs to include a seventh team.
The Buccaneers again used the fourth quarter to put the game away, scoring ten unanswered to win 30-20 over a rival Saints team that had beaten them twice in the regular season.
NFC Championship Game
Their most recent game was against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. The Buccaneers employed a fearsome pass rush that got to Rodgers all day, while star Davante Adams wasn’t able to break a big gain against this strong secondary.
The offense had its ups and downs. Brady threw three interceptions, though only one led to points for Green Bay. The offense did go 9-14 on third downs and had some big plays, including a long touchdown to Scotty Miller on the final play of the first half to go up 21-10.
The Packers mounted a late run but couldn’t capitalize on the aforementioned interceptions. The game was effectively decided when Green Bay elected to kick a field goal down by eight on fourth and goal instead of going for the end zone and attempting to tie the score. Tampa Bay subsequently put the game away by running out the clock.
The Buccaneers have a strong defense in all three facets and a loaded passing game highlighted by Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Brady has been here before, and Tampa will be looking to take down the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, February 7.
So far this postseason, Tampa is 2-0-1 ATS and 2-1 with over/unders. The Buccaneers are currently listed at +3.5, with the game’s over/under at 56.5
Of the four wild card teams to make the Super Bowl since 2000, all four have won.