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Filed under:The Cowboys may be in line to visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card Weekend finale. still have one game left in their regular season. The Washington Commanders (+7.5) stand between Dallas and their playoff focus, although to be fair, a number of other things are sort of in the way at the moment as well. The Cowboys are obviously focused on winning their regular-season finale against their rivals, but they are going to be paying attention to what is happening in two other games as the results could change t...
The Cowboys may be in line to visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card Weekend finale.
still have one game left in their regular season. The Washington Commanders (+7.5) stand between Dallas and their playoff focus, although to be fair, a number of other things are sort of in the way at the moment as well. The Cowboys are obviously focused on winning their regular-season finale against their rivals, but they are going to be paying attention to what is happening in two other games as the results could change the path they take in the postseason tournament. lose, then the Cowboys are division champions and secure the #2 seed at worst. If these things happen and the San Francisco 49ers (-14.5) lose, then the Cowboys vault all the way to the top seed in the conference. Both Philadelphia and San Francisco are solidly double-digit point favorites in their matchups according to our friends at DraftKings.
Should things not break the Cowboys way (meaning the Eagles win or Dallas themselves lose), then they would be locked into the #5 seed in the NFC as the conference’s top wild card. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5)
are already locked into the #4 seed as the lowest-seeded division winner which would mean the Cowboys would finally see Tom Brady again as Dak Prescott promised in the season opener back in 2021.
There is no doubt that a Cowboys/Buccaneers game would do massive ratings given the appeal of Dallas and Tampa’s quarterback. Needless to say, it would be coveted by every broadcast partner that the NFL has as far as Wild Card Round games are concerned.
It was noted on Saturday afternoon by the Dallas Morning News that if this winds up coming to fruition, the game could take place on the Monday night of Wild Card Weekend.
Rumblings are strong that if the Cowboys remain the No. 5 seed once Sunday is done, Dallas & Tampa Bay will be the Monday Night game for Wild Card Weekend.— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) January 7, 2023
Forget the Buccaneers part of this hypothetical for the moment. Maybe you feel like that is an ideal or not-so-great matchup for the Cowboys. Right now we are only talking about the time slot.
This is a potentially terrible idea if we are being honest (to be fair this is true for all NFL teams, we just have an interest in the Cowboys). It is why so many people did not want to see playoff games take place on Monday nights. If the Cowboys won this playoff game, they could potentially be at a huge rest disadvantage for their next opponent.
If all of the non-Bucs division winners in the NFC playoff games won, then the Cowboys would be traveling to face the top-seeded team (likely the Eagles) coming off of their bye. So you are talking about one team coming off of the longest amount of rest possible and the other coming off of the shortest amount of rest possible. For a playoff game!
It is worth mentioning that the Los Angeles Rams (+5)
played in this slot last postseason on their way to winning the Super Bowl, but it is also worth noting that they did not have to visit the top seed in the conference as a result (which proves that anything can happen obviously). Incidentally, it was because the Cowboys lost in the Wild Card Round a year ago to the 49ers that sent L.A. to Tampa in the Divisional Round. Had the Cowboys won then the Rams would have been in the situation we are speculating about, coming off of short rest and heading to the top-seeded Green Bay Packers (-5). Also it is worth pointing out that the Rams played that game at home and not on the road like Dallas would here.
The Cowboys are likely to be favored against the Buccaneers if that winds up being the matchup, but putting the game on the Monday night of Wild Card Weekend would be setting them up with an objective disadvantage for the Divisional Round, even if there are Saturday games that weekend as well.
The next Tampa Bay Lightning practice could be an interesting one, especially with what head coach Jon Cooper had to say after Friday night's 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.After the game, Cooper gave the Jets credit for allowing his team to trip over their own feet. And let's just say he didn't mince his words, that's for sure."Good of Winnipeg," stated Cooper p...
The next Tampa Bay Lightning practice could be an interesting one, especially with what head coach Jon Cooper had to say after Friday night's 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
After the game, Cooper gave the Jets credit for allowing his team to trip over their own feet. And let's just say he didn't mince his words, that's for sure.
"Good of Winnipeg," stated Cooper per Chris Krenn. "Honestly, it was really a nothing game going on. That game could've been 0-0 and a shootout. They stayed disciplined and just said, 'Sit back and wait for Tampa to screw it up,' and they did. That's what happened."
The 11th-year head coach of the Lightning wasn't done there, next going after his team's lack of discipline and their inability to stay out of the penalty box.
"How many 5-on-3s you're up against in one season, you count on maybe one hand," said Cooper. "We gave them two, minute and a half 5-on-3s in one game. Unacceptable. That shouldn't happen."
It might've been different if his team found a way to get out of those jams, but instead, Winnipeg would score two power-play goals to take a 3-2 lead, before adding an empty netter for the final nail in the coffin.
Safe to say, Cooper knew it cost his team two points.
"It's a complete lack of discipline," he said. "It was embarrassing what we did."
The loss to the Jets was the second of back-to-back bad defeats for the Lightning after they lost 5-1 to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday.
Their head coach isn't the only one to think the penalties are starting to become an issue. Defenceman Ian Cole agreed with Cooper's assessment and knows the whole team, including himself, needs to be better at staying out of the box.
"Penalties have been an issue for our team, up and down the lineup," said Cole. "Just too many, and I'm certainly a part of that. I can be way better...It takes our best players off the ice. Our skill guys, we want on the ice as much as possible."
The Lightning currently sit third in the Atlantic division with a record of 24-13-1, but when your team's standard is three Stanley Cup Finals in a row, back-to-back losses don't usually happen.
And sometimes, your coach needs to remind you of exactly what the standard looks like, which is exactly what Cooper did Friday night.
TAMPA — If the Bucs move on from offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich after this season — especially if Tom Brady decides to return to Tampa Bay — the coach to keep an eye on is Bill O’Brien.The former Penn State and Houston Texans head coach now serves as the offensive coordinator for Alabama under Nick Saban.Of course, O’Brien held that position under Bill Belichick in New England, where he was an assistant from 2007-11.He had some famous sideline scraps with Brady, who nonetheless prefers...
TAMPA — If the Bucs move on from offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich after this season — especially if Tom Brady decides to return to Tampa Bay — the coach to keep an eye on is Bill O’Brien.
The former Penn State and Houston Texans head coach now serves as the offensive coordinator for Alabama under Nick Saban.
Of course, O’Brien held that position under Bill Belichick in New England, where he was an assistant from 2007-11.
He had some famous sideline scraps with Brady, who nonetheless prefers to be challenged with hard coaching.
O’Brien also is very close friends with Bucs general manager Jason Licht from their days of working together in New England.
A year ago, then-Bucs coach Bruce Arians was pretty confident that Leftwich was going to be hired as head coach by the Jacksonville Jaguars to replace Urban Meyer.
The Bucs contacted O’Brien, who would have replaced Leftwich. But it all fell apart when the Jaguars hired Doug Pederson, who won a Super Bowl with the Eagles.
Todd Bowles was appointed to succeed Arians as head coach the final day in March, leaving him virtually no time to hunt for an offensive coordinator.
There’s no question Bowles has been very supportive of Leftwich, but the diminishing results speak for themselves.
O’Brien has been linked to other job openings, and it’s not like Brady and Leftwich are at each other’s throats. Still, that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a change.
On Thursday, Leftwich said, ‘‘everybody wants to throw dirt on the Bucs,” and it’s true. But there is a dump truck full of reasons for that.
While Leftwich will never get the credit for the Bucs averaging more than 30 points per game the previous three seasons, he seems to be the sole person people want to blame for the offensive malaise.
While Tampa Bay ranks 11th overall in total yards (354.5), it is 24th in scoring (18.5), 22nd in third-down percentage (36.91) and 25th in red-zone scoring (51 percent). In fact, the Bucs have only scored more than 23 points twice in 16 games. They have 29 offensive touchdowns this season, compared to 56 entering the final week of the regular season a year ago.
Ultimately, it may come down to whether Brady returns to the Bucs and, if so, whom he prefers to call plays.
But in Leftwich’s defense, expectations were unrealistic. This was never a Super Bowl roster on offense. He doesn’t miss blocks or drop passes. Furthermore, Brady didn’t trust his protection, as evidenced by his yards per attempt (6.4), the second-lowest of his career. Guard Ali Marpet retired. Guard Alex Cappa left via free agency. Center Ryan Jensen spent the year on injured reserve. There is no Rob Gronkowski at tight end.
Would O’Brien fix all that? Probably not. But if Leftwich moves on, O’Brien could be moving in if Brady plays in 2023.
Pro Football Talk had a report last week that Sean Payton could return to coach the New Orleans Saints, who still control his rights, and bring Brady with him.
We know the two tried to hook up in Miami a year ago, but two things nixed the deal: Then-Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the team and the NFL on the day Brady retired. The Saints also denied Miami a request to interview Payton.
The Dolphins are a good fit. Brady wouldn’t be far from his two children in South Florida and one in New York, and would be surrounded by talents like receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. While it seems unlikely Dolphins owner Stephen Ross would pull the rip cord on coach Mike McDaniel after only one season, Tua Tagovailoa’s history of concussions is daunting.
But again, New Orleans would have to approve and be compensated. If there’s going to be a Brady-Payton marriage, why wouldn’t the Saints want it to be in New Orleans?
That would be hard for the Glazer family that owns the Bucs to swallow. Brady is very close to ownership and the front office, so Who Dat Nation may want to pump the brakes on getting the GOAT.
Don’t underestimate how much the Bucs want to finish the regular season with a winning record of 9-8, which is one reason why so many starters will be playing. It’s also important to Brady, who never has had a losing season as a starter. ... While former Gators QB Kyle Trask has earned a chance to play Sunday and will be in uniform for only the second time in a regular-season game, several members of the coaching staff believe it may be better if he doesn’t get in. Unlike Blaine Gabbert, Trask took no reps with the Bucs’ offense this week and wouldn’t be prepared for success playing with a collection of backups. ... One regret Arians has from his Ring of Honor coaching career with the Bucs was not turning around Jameis Winston: “If I have a regret, it’s not saving him. Now, we couldn’t say no to Tom (Brady). And if it wasn’t Tom Brady, I would say Jameis would’ve still been our guy, and he’d have been better. The second year, our guys were always better. He still threw for 5,000 yards and 33 touchdowns. It’s not an easy system. But when you get it, it’s taking candy from a baby. But those last two games (of the 2019 season, losses to the Texans and Falcons), then we had to look. We wouldn’t have done it for anybody. Tom Brady was the only guy.”
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This Week 18 season finale between the Atlanta Falcons (+1.5)and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5) is especially intriguing given that it features potentially the last time the Falcons can for the very first time beat a team led by Tom Brady. However, there is no confirmation that Brady will even play this week, so it may just be an opportunity for the Falcons to break their tie th...
This Week 18 season finale between the Atlanta Falcons (+1.5)
and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5) is especially intriguing given that it features potentially the last time the Falcons can for the very first time beat a team led by Tom Brady. However, there is no confirmation that Brady will even play this week, so it may just be an opportunity for the Falcons to break their tie they have against Blaine Gabbert when he’s started against them. They thrashed Gabbert during his rookie season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but then lost to him when he suited up for the San Francisco 49ers (-14.5) in 2015.
It also represents the last game that Desmond Ridder has to impress before the offseason, as part of his audition to be the Falcons starting quarterback in 2023. But that alone is not the only intrigue involved in this game. Rules mandate that only five Falcons can be named each week.
I must admit that this season it has been nearly impossible to name five Falcons, yet I have succeeded in doing so. I will not fail this week, so let’s get started!
For the aforementioned reasons, Ridder is an intriguing player to watch this weekend. In part because in a game of potential firsts against Brady, it would be nice to see Ridder throw his first touchdown pass. As FOX Sports wrote earlier this week, if Ridder fails to throw a touchdown pass in his first four starts, he’ll join a less than illustrious list of NFL passers that failed to do so. Although, if he can manage to avoid an interception for a fourth week, he’ll join a distinguished group that includes Brady.
But let’s be honest, Ridder should have had his first touchdown pass last week versus the Arizona Cardinals (+14.5)
. Unfortunately, Cordarrelle Patterson couldn’t secure the catch. But the stat sheets don’t count “almost” touchdowns. So it only helps Ridder if he can get that official mark in the box score on Sunday.
Now when it comes to catching touchdowns, the obvious candidate would be Drake London, who currently leads the Falcons with four scoring receptions. But the player that may be the best bet to actually catch Ridder’s first scoring pass is their unicorn of a tight end in MyCole Pruitt.
When Atlanta first signed Pruitt back in August, there weren’t high expectations for what he’d bring to the Falcons offense besides blocking, but he has exceeded those. Despite only having 13 receptions, Pruitt has seemingly made the most of every opportunity he’s had to catch a football this season. He has more red-zone targets and receptions than any player besides London this year, and thus may be the most reliable option for Ridder to target close to the end zone if he finally wants to throw his first touchdown pass.
Since the Falcons are facing the Bucs, a player that needs to have a big game if the team expects to win is Jarrett. He has appeared in this weekly list of intrigue many times this year due to his prowess as a disruptor on the Falcons' defensive line. But this week, he’s especially intriguing since he seemed like he was a one-man wrecking crew that kept the Falcons far more competitive in their last matchup against the Bucs.
Given the weakness of the Bucs interior offensive line, Jarrett will have to put on his superhero cape once more if the Falcons are going to slow down this Brady or Gabbert-led Bucs offense.
Jarrett shouldn’t have to do it alone, due to the presence of pass-rushers like Ebiketie and Carter. The Bucs will be down left tackle Donovan Smith this week, which means backup Brandon Walton will be making his second career start in his stead. That represents a golden opportunity for either edge-rusher to give Jarrett some much-needed help.
It’s important that one or both step up. All year long, we've searched for a Robin to Jarrett’s Batman. At times, Carter has appeared the top option given his experience. He is an impending free agent that needs to make a stronger case to earn a new contract, whether it be from the Falcons or elsewhere. So a strong closing game against Walton could be exactly the favorable impression he needs to make.
The Falcons have plenty of money to spend this offseason to upgrade their pass rush and how much they spend may rely on how well Ebiketie plays this weekend. A big game for Ebiketie in the season finale can instill a lot more optimism about his potential to be Jarrett’s sidekick moving forward.
Are there other Falcons you can name that intrigue you in this matchup?
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Comic Con is back for its second year in St. Petersburg.What You Need To Know When you’ve never gone to a comic con before there’s a lot of preconceived notions on what you’ll see.Maybe some Pokémon, Sayans or Sith lords but one thing that could get overlooked in those presumptions is what a place like this means for those dressed in these costumes.“I met some of, like my good friends at the last con I went to, so that was pretty cool,&r...
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Comic Con is back for its second year in St. Petersburg.
When you’ve never gone to a comic con before there’s a lot of preconceived notions on what you’ll see.
Maybe some Pokémon, Sayans or Sith lords but one thing that could get overlooked in those presumptions is what a place like this means for those dressed in these costumes.
“I met some of, like my good friends at the last con I went to, so that was pretty cool,” said Aislyn Morris, a 14-year-old cosplayer from the Bay Area.
Morris has been cosplaying for a couple years now.
On the outside, she’s dressed as a creative version of Hello Kitty, on the inside, she’s loving every minute of this.
“I just like being able to go and express myself around people that don't really care if I express myself,” Morris said.
This is the first time she’s expressing herself at St. Pete’s Comic Con.
This smaller convention is in its second year and is bringing in thousands of people, like Aislyn.
“There's just a lot of support from the geek and nerd community,” said Dewey Caruthers, the organizer of the convention.
According to Caruthers, things went so well last year people were eager to see its return in 2023.
“You can tell they wanted this event last year and now they're telling us they are glad we brought it back,” Caruthers said. “So, I would plan on this event happening every year until infinity.”
Which the attendees are grateful for; so is Caruthers.
“I love seeing just the cosplayers who come in the door, who are so talented, who have spent a hundred plus hours on their costume and they thought out every detail to the extent that it could be in a movie,” he said.
Aside from bringing some of the most creative outfits together in one spot, St. Pete Comic Con is bringing businesses to booths around the convention floor to give them some exposure that might be more difficult to get.
“I like, like supporting the smaller businesses because it's fun,” Morris said.
Along with being on a panel, Aislyn is meandering around the convention looking at different prints and plushes while her parents follow behind beaming with happiness for their daughter.
“It’s really cool to see her develop herself and meet a lot of friends who think outside of the box,” Morris’ father said.
Something that means a lot to Aislyn.
“I'm very thankful that they are very supportive of it and are like, hey, yeah, sure, you can go do this,” Morris said.
For some, it might be odd seeing colorful characters from comics or movies walking around looking at Funko Pops.
But for those attending St. Pete’s Comic Con it feels like they’re right at home.
The convention will be continuing tomorrow as well with doors opening at 10 a.m. and closing at 5 p.m.