The Road to the SuperBowl: The NFL Playoffs

John Tillman

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If K. Johnson can keep his mouth shut for a couple of weeks I'll pull for the Bucs. Else, I'll go with the Raiders.
 

Scott Merryfield

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I am surprised at Vegas. But the O is sexy, the D is not. The D just wins championships.
Keep in mind that Vegas sets the odds on where they think the money will go, not necessarily on who they think will win. The initial line was set at Oakland as 3.5 point favorites, and quickly went up to 4 (and in some places 5) points. So clearly, the gambling public thinks the Raiders will win, since they jumped on Oakland and gave up 3.5 or more points.
 

nolesrule

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Why would the Bucs want to scare the opposing defense? You don't have to scare your opponent, just outscore them.

Philly's D, #2 in the NFL behind the Bucs, wasn't scared. Look what happened.

If you don't include the 3 games that Brad Johnson didn't play in, the Bucs scored at least 20 points in all but 2 of them.

PPG w/ BJ: 24.7
PPG w/out: 11.3
 

Mark C.

Supporting Actor
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May 21, 1999
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No matter what is said, fact is Bucs have nothing on offense. Raiders have offense and a very good defense, which you Buc lovers seem to ignore. Raiders offense vs. Buc defense is a minor issue. It's the Raiders defense that will win this game.
 

Patrick_S

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The Raiders O is awesome. Gannon is brilliant. But he has NEVER, in his long illustrious career, had to face a team with NEAR the speed of Tampa. It opened every QB's eyes who's played against it.
The last time the Raiders played Tampa, Gannon was the QB for the Raiders. A Tampa fans is going to have to correct me but weren’t quite a few of the stars of this defense on the team three years ago?

Of course that game has nothing to do with this game but I just thought I’d point out that Gannon has already played against Tampa.
 

nolesrule

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The Bucs defense is better than it was in 1999. Plus, in hindsight, they were looking ahead to Green Bay the next week.

Yeah, some of the veterans are the same, but there are only 4 starters left from the 1999 defense. Jackson, Kelly, Quarles, Singleton, Rice, Spires and Darby (who replaced McFarlane due to injury) were not starting or weren't on the team. The same Kelly who led the NFL in INTs this year.

The only remaining starters are Sapp, Brooks, Lynch and Barber. Yeah, that's the same Brooks who is the Defensive Player of the Year. And that's the same Barber who had the 92 INT return for a TD and sack-and-fumble yesterday.

Defending the pass is the Bucs strength. And apparently, so is stopping mobile QBs.

Just to be complete, the only offensive starter from that game still starting for the Bucs is Mike Alstott.
 

nolesrule

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A friend of mine who works for an NFL team and is very familiar with both teams playing in the Super Bowl pointed out to me after reading your post the following:

The Bucs offense languished at the beginning of the season, that's true. But the only times it has failed to score at least 20 points in the last two months were in the two games that Brad Johnson did not start. In Johnson's starts from November onward, the Bucs are 7-1 and have averaged 27.1 points per game.

In that same stretch, the Bucs have scored more than 20 offensive points against the Panthers and Eagles, two teams with better defenses than Oakland's; Carolina's was No. 2 in the league, the Eagles' was No. 4. While the Raiders haven't seen a defense as good as the Bucs, the Bucs have seen defenses better than Oakland brings.

In personnel, the Bucs are diversified. No Buccaneer has more than seven touchdowns (Mike Alstott). But four others have three or more. Those scores add up, especially considering that Tampa Bay has cultivated many inside-the-red-zone threats -- look at the past two games to see just what Joe Jurevicius, Keyshawn Johnson and Alstott can provide inside the 20. They finish drives because opponents don't know who will get the ball; Brad Johnson does a fine job spreading it around. Oakland could focus on one or two red-zone targets in their past few games; that will not be the case here.
 

Mike Knapp

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Mike
Paper champions indeed.
It sure didnt look like paper Gruden was hoisting over his head yesterday.
Mike
 

Jason Reich

Stunt Coordinator
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Feb 19, 2001
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It will be a great game, I am sure of that....one word though...


Raiders!!!

My pick is my almighty Raiders by a touchdown.
 

MikeM

Screenwriter
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You guys are right. The Bucs have scored over 20 points in their last two games...too bad the Raiders have scored over 30.

It'll be an interesting game to say the least. Normally, i'd always take a favored D over a favored offense. However, this is not your daddy's offense. The Raiders are a team that use the short pass as an "extended handoff". Quick accurate passing is virtually impossible to defend, so it'll be interesting to see the pressure TB is able to put on Gannon. If the Raiders O line holds, they'll win, in my opinion.
 

Chuck Mayer

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The Raiders O-line will have success IF they establish a run.

Because this ain't your daddy's Buc defense. Or even your daddy's NFL defense. Those short passes will go short, and short only. Some will be dropped. Some will be on 1st and 20. Some will end with Gannon on the ground. That favors the Bucs.

Unless the Raiders O-line can really grind it. And they might. Wheatley and that massive front 5 could really put a hurting on the smaller D-Line. But pass plays favor the speed.

It'll be a great game.

Take care,
Chuck
 

MikeM

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Hmmm...I don't see that happening at all. The Raiders use Wheatley as a "power back" in certain situations, but they never feature him, especially against a team with a strong D. They know how little Wheatley can do against a serious run D. The film footage of the Raiders/Ravens playoff game a while back should show that. I highly doubt they are going to stray from what got them there. A strong, strong passing attack.

Spread the D, and while they are focusing on Rice/Brown, passes to Jerry Porter and Doug Jolley, or dump offs to Garner should be their best bet. Of couse, all of this is if Gannon has time. We'll have to see how things turn out.
 

Chuck Mayer

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I don't see it happening either (re: Wheatley). But the teams with success against the Bucs RUN the ball. That gives the O-Line some leverage on the smaller Bucs. Without that, it'll be a LONG day. The Eagles had an O-Line as good as the Raiders. But all the passing got painful. The O-Line was on it's heels all the time.
As much as I favor the Bucs, they haven't faced a mobile QB as experienced or savvy as Gannon. If he gets in a rhythm, it could get ugly. But it'll be tough to keep the rhythm. He'll hit the deck a few times.
I can't wait

Chuck
 

Carlo Medina

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The Bucs can definitely do to the Raiders what the Ravens did two years ago (including that devastating hit to Gannon which would render the Raiders nearly powerless). That's what scares me as a Raider fan the most. And the Bucs have a better offense than the Ravens did back when they won it all, so definitely a great defense and a decent offense is all that's necessary (especially with today's parity in the NFL).

Of course, as most Raider fans will tell you, the Raiders in 2002-3 are *not* running "Gruden's Offense" of years past. True Gruden brought the West Coast style of offense (short passes, diversified playcalling) to the formerly "Bomb 'em deep" Raiders. But Gruden did not have this "Throw 50 times a game" mentality that Callahan has installed. Gruden still loved to run the ball (and in fact I believe the Raiders had statistically one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL 2-3 years ago). In the current Raider scheme the run is like a changeup to the fastball (short, concise passes). One of the things that really has helped the Raiders is Jerry Porter (who was in Gruden's doghouse for whatever reasons) who now adds a deep threat. When defenses start tightening in to control the quick patterns of Rice/Brown/Jolley, Gannon has shown the ability and confidence in Porter to check off to a seam or fly route and catch defenses in a tight/man coverage, which Porter will win in most situations.

History has shown that a bruising, powerful D can stop a great offense - heck the Ravens did it in 2000. But this is not the same Raider team of that time, and Gruden won't necessarily know "everything about the Raiders' scheme" because Callahan has definitely added his own new style to the foundation that Gruden laid down.

I think this is going to be a great game and yes, I believe Gannon's performance will decide it. If the Bucs can put him on the turf regularly, it bodes very well for the Bucs.

I do think the Bucs have the ability to score 20 points on the Raider D (especially if C. Woodson is as ineffective as he has been) but if the Raiders can protect Gannon and give him time to work his magic, he can put up the numbers necessary to win the game.
 

Paul O

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Tampa moved the ball smartly against the Eagles and the Eagles have a better defense than the Raiders - Their O is good enough to win a Super Bowl when its combined with its #1 D. The X Factor though will be Gruden - In addition to instilling the belief that this team can win (something Tony Dungy couldnt do) he knows the Raiders better than Callahan does - he will not allow himself to be outcoached and will come up with new wrinkles to exploit Oakland and cover up the Bucs weaknesses on offense. Callahan is a nice guy who hasnt done anything wrong but he's running someone elses team - unfortunately that guy happens to be Chucky. I got both games right last week and you can bank this one Bucs 34 Raiders 20
 

Paul O

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Mark C - your sense of smell is faulty. Im a transplanted NY'er so i root for the Giants - My "Super Bowl" was seeing the Eagles lose
 

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