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News » Buc-ing conventional thinking in the NFC

Buc-ing conventional thinking in the NFC

Buc-ing conventional thinking in the NFC
Adam Best and the rabid football fans at Fan-Sided Blogs will weigh in with the perspective from the bleachers, couches and sports bars after each week's games.

Five keys to Pats' Monday night rout

NFL Week 7

Week 7 action

    Panthers 30, Saints 7 -- Recap | Box
    Bears 48, Vikings 41 -- Recap | Box
    Bills 23, Chargers 14 -- Recap | Box
    Rams 34, Cowboys 14 -- Recap | Box
    Giants 29, 49ers 17 -- Recap | Box
    Steelers 38, Bengals 10 -- Recap | Box
    Ravens 27, Dolphins 13 -- Recap | Box
    Titans 34, Chiefs 10 -- Recap | Box
    Texans 28, Lions 21 -- Recap | Box
    Packers 34, Colts 14 -- Recap | Box
    Raiders 16, Jets 13 -- Recap | Box
    Redskins 14, Browns 11 -- Recap | Box
    Bucs 20, Seahawks 10 -- Recap | Box
    Patriots 34, Broncos 7 -- Recap | Box


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  • Week 7 action
  • Fantasy: Top moves

Forget the NFC Least, because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the best team in the NFC right now. Yet, for some reason, everybody's sleeping on the Bucs like Ike Hillard after Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu turned him into the lunchmeat on their concussion sandwich . This team is 5-2 people, so why isn't anybody paying any attention?

Because of the Tampa Bay Rays' magical run? Maddon? I thought he finally had a Sunday night off? Yep, that's about how much I know about MLB, and about all I care to.

Seriously, though, I'd rather watch the Bucs dominate a Seattle Seahawks team responsible for more depression in the Pacific Northwest than non-stop rain than watch Game 7 of the ALCS, so that's exactly what I did. While doing so, I realized I was checking out a legit Super Bowl contender. Instead of trying to keep up with the NFL's Joneses, Luries and Snyders dollar for dollar, the Glazer family has put together this cohesive football family on an pretty modest budget (by NFL standards).

The man who makes this family click is head coach Jon Gruden. Some call him Chucky, but I call him MacGruden -- the MacGyver of quarterbacks. When it comes to quarterbacks, give the guy an old Timex, a paper clip and a banana, and he'll whip you up a freakin' nuclear reactor. What do Rich Gannon, Brad Johnson and now Jeff Garcia have in common? They all went from merely above average to very good under the Visored One's tutelage.

Garcia -- Gruden's QB du juor -- is playing as well as any Gruden signal caller ever. His 310 yards led all passers in Week 7, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Brian Griese was good, but the Bucs are better when Garcia's under center. First off, he takes care of the football, having not thrown an interception in 14 of his last 17 games. Additionally, the 38-year-old scrambler is a natural leader, and his legs have aged as well as anyone's this side of Teri Hatcher. His bootlegs -- did you see him zip around and fling out that Steve Nash dish? -- were extremely effective against the 'Hawks, opening things up for the rest of the O.

Speaking of the offense, what's up with this defensive-minded squad racking up 352.6 yards per game, eighth best in the league? Despite Cadillac Williams still being parked in the garage and Joey "White Tiger" Galloway being on the verge of extinction, the entire unit has stepped up. Davin Joseph was playing so well in the trenches Sunday night that Chris Collinsworth was about this close to proposing to him on national TV. Meanwhile, Antonio Bryant was Brandon Marshallesque on the field, instead of off it for once. Everything was clicking. I mean, even Jerramy Stevens was plucking every ball thrown in his direction. The Bucs are truly starting to master ball control offense.

Defensively? Yeah, you know the Gru Crew brought it. On one particular play, even new San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary and the rest of the '85 Chicago Bears' D had to be impressed. Gaines Adams came screaming around the corner and pressured Seneca Wallace into throwing a duck, which Barrett Ruud tipped and rookie corner and future star Aqib Talib eventually came down with. That's getting it done at all three levels, something that Derrick Brooks and Co. do more often than not. After all, the original Tampa Two is fourth in points allowed, despite playing against some of the league's best offenses.

The Pewter Pirates are one of the most steady, well-rounded teams in the entire league, and that's saying something given that most of the NFL's other top teams have gone completely schizo. This Sunday, the balanced Bucs travel to take on a desperate Cowboys team. With a win, they'll put themselves in the driver's seat when it comes to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The rest of the Bucs' schedule is a cakewalk -- I can easily seeing them going 7-2 down the stretch. During that same stretch, the NFC Least will almost certainly tear itself apart.

Home-field advantage would be good news for Tampa Fans, because their Sunday swashbucklers are 4-0 at the New Sombrero. But that's not the only good news, because guess where Super Bowl XLIII is being played? Yep, these Bucs have the opportunity to redefine the phrase "home-field advantage throughout" by reaching this year's Big Game at Ray Jay. If they keep playing like this, they might just be able to pull that feat off.

Around the League

AFC East: The best defensive play last Sunday by anybody in a Miami Dolphins jersey was made by that chunky fan rocking the clown hair when he pushed a piggybacking Frank Walker during the celebration of Terrell Suggs's pick six. The Baltimore Ravens held a funeral for the Wildcat formation -- we'll see if it can be resurrected.
-- Full AFC East breakdown

AFC North: No Fast Willie for the Pittsburgh Steelers? No problem. Marky Mark isn't the only one talking to animals nowadays, because I'm talking to you Mewelde Moore. Who knew you had this in you? Apparently, Mike Tomlin. The Steelers might be tops in the AFC right now.
-- Full AFC North breakdown

AFC South: Close your eyes, Kansas City, because I think one of the Tennessee Titans running backs just ripped off another ridiculously long TD ramble. Anyone who knew that the Titans were going to be 6-0 at this point obviously has Biff's Gray's Sports Almanac stuffed in their back pocket.
-- Full AFC South breakdown

AFC West: Norv Turner had a lot of homework to digest during his overseas flight to London, because Dick Jauron taught him a lesson Sunday afternoon. Are the McDonalds in the UK running the Monopoly promotion? If so, scoop yourself a Filet-O-Fish and chips, Norv, because you have a better chance of winning that big game than the one played in February.
-- Full AFC West breakdown

NFC East: I think it's hilarious that you now see Roy Williams, the newest Cowboy, being listed as Roy E. Williams in some places. Why? Because his new team got Roy E. Munsoned in the middle of nowhere for the second week in a row. "Kingpin" of the NFC my you know what.
-- Full NFC East breakdown

NFC North: Purple Jesus is only 23 right now, but sometimes I bet he wishes he was 10 years older, because watching his fellow Minnesota Vikings has to be just downright excruciating at times. The only thing the Purple People Eaters are chomping down on right now is humble pie.
-- Full NFC North breakdown

NFC South: How did Steve Smith come down with that rainbow when he was smothered by double coverage in the end zone? "Jake and the Fatman?" No, Jake and the Fastman. That's the show the Bucs are going to have to cancel if they want to win the NFC South and go on to get some home cooking for the SB XLIII pre-game meal.
-- Full NFC South breakdown

NFC West: A lame-duck leader with a heavily ridiculed regime in Washington? Of course, I'm talking about Mike Holmgren and his Seahawks. Josh Brolin couldn't play Holmgren in his bio-pic, but I hear John Goodman's looking for work. Working title? "I Am the Walrus."
-- Full NFC West breakdown

Get plenty of NFL coverage from the fans perspective at Fan-Sided Blogs, an affiliate of Yardbarker.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 21, 2008

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