Sat, 23 Jan 2021

What's Next: Bucs Get Break Before Facing Vikings

Buccaneers
03 Dec 2020, 18:26 GMT+10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa Bay heads into its bye week needing to refocus for a final four-week run to the end of the regular season, with a potential playoff spot hanging in the balance and the Vikings coming to town in Week 14 Scott Smith

In a season of interesting firsts for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, here's another one: A Week 13 bye.

The Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers are the last two NFL teams to hit their bye week in 2020, and it's the latest in a season that Tampa Bay has had a week off since the bye was first instituted in 1990 and Tampa Bay was idle in Week 14. After the Buccaneers lost to the defending-champion Kansas City Chiefs, 27-24, on Sunday, outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett said that, while he personally felt fine, the bye week could help the Bucs get ready for the final four-week charge to the end.

"Speaking for myself, I feel pretty good," said Barrett. "It's the best I've felt in a long time in Week 12 into the season. But it's going to be good just so we can refresh, refocus. We shouldn't need to refocus, but just to refocus to make sure everything is where we need to be at, everybody just dotting there I's and crossing their T's so we can get back to winning football."

Head Coach Bruce Arians had an important message for his players as they prepared to head into the bye.

"First and foremost, get healthy and beat the virus," said Arians. "Every team that's come back from the bye has had a virus problem. We can't finish our season with eight or nine or 10 guys staying home. Every game is a big game; 11-5 would do it. One at a time, but the first thing is to get healthy and beat the virus."

Arians target of 11-5 would mean a final-quarter sweep, as the Bucs dropped to 7-5 with their loss to the Chiefs and remain in the sixth spot in the seven-team NFC playoff field. Tampa Bay will finish with four straight NFC opponents, starting with another home game against the Minnesota Vikings on December 13. The Vikings improved to 5-6 with a comeback win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, which has moved them to the edge of the NFC playoffs. If Minnesota beats the 1-10 Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 13 they will come to Tampa only one game behind the Buccaneers.

After that Week 14 contest, the Buccaneers will play the resurgent Atlanta Falcons in Weeks 15 and 17, first in Atlanta and then at home to wrap up the regular-season schedule. In between, Tampa Bay will travel to Detroit for their final road game of 2020. The Buccaneers are 4-2 on the road so far.

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