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NFL PLAYOFFS: Dolphins, Bucs, and Jaguars headed into the Postseason

Kevyn Bryant II

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Week 4 Jaguars vs Eagles

As we sit here on January 10th, 2023, the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will all be playing postseason football this weekend.   This is the first time that all of the Florida teams have clinched playoff berths since 1999.   As division champs, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have the luxury of a home playoff game despite mediocre regular-season records.    The Miami Dolphins made it into the final wildcard spot in the AFC.

Without further ado, let’s dig into the playoff outlook for each Florida team and what needs to occur for each team to pull off a playoff win this weekend.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Los Angeles Chargers

Outlook:

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This game can definitely be seen as a toss-up.  Yet, the Jacksonville Jaguars definitely have more momentum going into this game.   Given that the Jaguars defeated the Chargers 38-10 in Week 3, they may also have the psychological edge.

 

dre ciso interception

It will not be so easy this time.  Over the last six games, the Chargers’ defense held opposing quarterbacks to just 155 yards per game since Week 12

Chargers coach Brandon Staley played with fire by playing his starters against the Broncos in Week 18.  As a result, the injury-prone Mike Williams and Joey Bosa sustained injuries.    However, it appears that both players will be available for this game.

Keys to a Jaguars Victory Over the Chargers:

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Given that the Chargers’ run defense is woeful, Travis Etienne has to show up and show out.  This will make life easier for Trevor Lawrence.   It goes without saying that Trevor Lawrence will have to play much better than he did against the Tennessee Titans.

If Travis Etienne has a big game, the Jaguars will win the time of possession battle.  Thus, they will move on to the divisional round.

 

Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills.

Outlook:

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Despite making the playoffs, the outlook for the Miami Dolphins’ potential matchup with the Buffalo Bills is quite bleak.   Their QB situation is a mess.  One cannot expect Tua to be available.  Teddy Bridgewater’s dislocated pinky has made it unlikely that he will be available as well.  Thus, it will be up to 3rd string QB Skylar Thompson.

New York Jet vs Miami Dolphins Photo Credit NJ Advanced Media

New York Jet vs Miami Dolphins Photo Credit NJ Advanced Media

They will be taking on a very motivated Buffalo Bills team.    The Bills will be poised and ready for a deep playoff run after dealing with the emotional Damar Hamlin injury.

Keys to a Dolphins Victory Over the Bills:

In order for the Miami Dolphins to upset the Bills, their defense will have to force turnovers.   It goes without saying that Josh Allen’s performance in the red zone has been problematic.   Additionally, the Buffalo Bills’ secondary is nothing to write home about.   Tyriek Hill and Jaylen Waddle will cause issues for the Bills secondary.    However,  Mike Mcdaniel has to find a way for Skylar Thompson to get the ball in their hands.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Dallas Cowboys:

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Outlook:

In spite of their division title, the Buccaneers have been a model of inconsistency.  Nevertheless, they have the greatest playoff quarterback of all time in Tom Brady at the helm.    Even though the Cowboys are the favorite in this game, they have looked very beatable lately.

Tampa Bay Bucaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dak Prescott’s performance against the Commanders was pitiful.   It was almost as if he was exposedHowever, one can expect Dak to pass back due to the fact that the Buccaneers pass rush has almost been nonexistent.   They also have a brutal run defense.

Keys to a Buccaneers Victory Over the Cowboys:

For the Buccaneers to win, Tom Brady must be Tom Brady.   Their passing game must be efficient against a suspect Dallas secondary.     Additionally, the Tampa Bay secondary must force a couple of interceptions out of Dak Prescott.

Additionally, Tampa must somehow limit Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott.  They must force Dallas into third and long situations.    The more passes thrown by Dak, the better.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs host 10th annual “Cut and Color Funds the Cure”

Robert Brumfield

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Photo Courtesy of: www.buccaneers.com

Thursday at AdventHealth Training Center saw some staff and players take part in one of the most fun yearly rituals here in Tampa, the “Cut and Color Funds the Cure” benefit. The event, held for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation (NPCF), is in it’s tenth year, and it brought out a huge group of Bucs legends.

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During the event, Buccaneers current and former players, staff, and even hall of famers have their heads or facial hair shaved or colored red by pediatric cancer patients . This year even brought out Buccaneers COO Brian Ford to take part in the festivities.

In the ten year tradition, the team has raised over $700,000 for the NPCF and created many more priceless memories. For the first time this year, the event was open to the public, with seating access and signed photos going to fans that donated at least $100 to the cause.

Current or former staff members in attendance this year were GM Jason Licht, Head Coach Todd Bowles, former coach Bruce Arians, Assistant General Managers Mike Greenberg and John Spytek, and others. Players like Mike Evans, Jamel Dean, Antoine Winfield Jr., Cade Otton, and Yaya Diaby sat while patients sheared or died their hair while the press took photos and fans interacted with staff and members of the NPCF.

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Former players notably involved this year included Rob Gronkowski (of course), Mike Alstott, Ronde Barber, Barry Smith, Dave Moore, Richard “Batman” Wood, Jimmie Giles, Martin Gramatica, Michael Clayton, and Dexter Jackson.

Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford was quoted, “Every year we try to give an afternoon to some very courageous children and their families to forget about what they are up against, and you just see smiles all around.”

The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation is a non-profit based right here in Tampa. The purpose of the organization is to raise awareness and fund research to try to eliminate childhood cancer. It uses research initiatives to combat cancer early on in some cases and fund targeted treatments in collaboration with the nation’s leading hospitals. Cancer is the number one disease based cause of death to children in the U.S. and everyday, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer in this country.

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More than 95 percent of childhood cancer survivors experience significant health-related issues by age 45 due to the current treatment options, something the NPCF is trying to change. Sadly, only 4% of the billions of dollars allocated for cancer research by the federal government is specifically for treating childhood cancer.

Thanks for reading and getting your Bucs news here at Sports Club Florida! Make sure to follow us and go check out some of our other great contributors for more on your favorite Florida sports teams.

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Buccaneers officially add Ryan Jensen to the Retired/Reserve list, marking end of an era

Robert Brumfield

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Photo Courtesy of: www.buccaneers.com

This week marked the official end of an era for former Buccaneers Center, Ryan Jensen, though it was mostly a formality at this point. Jensen had announced his intent to retire back on February 2nd after playing nine seasons as a professional.

Jensen was the centerpiece of an offensive line that dominated for most of his tenture in the Bay. Notably, the team’s four highest scoring seasons were from 2018 to 2021 with Jensen snapping the ball. He also anchored the line for Tom Brady in Super Bowl LV.

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The Baltimore Ravens drafted Ryan Jensen in the 2013 NFL Draft with the 203rd overall pick (Sixth Round) out of Colorado State (Pueblo). Jensen played four seasons as a Raven, with 2017 being his final season after starting all 16 games and being noticed by other teams around the League. That is when Tampa Bay entered the picture.

Jensen was signed by the Buccaneers entering the 2018 campaign. He immediately became the starter and one of the most dominant centers in the NFL. Throughout his five years played in red and pewter, Jensen was the linchpin for an offensive line that led the NFL in passing yards per game (305.0), as well as second ranked overall in third down conversion rate (44.5%), yards per play (6.1), first downs per game (23.2), points scored per game (28.6), and total yards per game (400.9). His offensive lines also yielded sacks at the fifth lowest rate of any team during this span.

Sadly, in a painfully ironic twist of fate, Jensen suffered a season ending knee injury during the Buccaneers last preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens of all teams. General Manager Jason Licht announced shortly after that Jensen would miss the entirety of the season. While the February announcement makes the retirement itself merely a formality, seeing Jensen’s name officially added to the retired list marks the end of a proud era for this offensive line that powered the Greatest QB of All-Time to a Super Bowl just a few short years ago.

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Jensen finishes his career with 100 games under his belt, including 90 starts. His 5,307 snaps played between the 2017 and 2021 seasons are the most played by any player. We as fans will now wait the mandatory five years and hope that in the distant future, Jensen will be named to the Hall of Fame in Canton. He sure has earned it.

Thanks for reading and getting your Bucs news here at Sports Club Florida! Make sure to follow us and go check out some of our other great contributors for more on your favorite Florida sports teams.

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All-Pro Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. signs record breaking new deal

Robert Brumfield

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Photo Courtesy of: www.buccaneers.com

Buccaneers GM Jason Licht placed the Franchise tag on Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. almost immediately during this off-season. Winfield Jr. had been voted First Team All-Pro after a stellar season and was as much of a priority to keep on the roster as Baker Mayfield or Mike Evans were. Franchise tagging a player doesn’t necessarily guarantee an extended stay, however. Ideally, a tag is a stop-gap measure to keep the player on until a contract agreement can be reached.

Bucs Nation can breathe a collective sigh of relief now after the team and Winfield Jr. reached an agreement this week to a four-year, $84.1 million contract that makes the 25 year old the highest paid defensive back in NFL history. This marks the first time a safety has held the highest paid slot at DB, usually reserved for cornerbacks. The deal includes a $20 million signing bonus with $45 million guaranteed, keeping Winfield Jr. in Tampa Bay through 2027. When he spoke to the media after the signing, Winfield said his best football was yet to come.

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The Buccaneers in recent years have a seemingly great rapport with their players when contract time comes up, due alot in part with the excellent management of Jason Licht and his staff. Twice in the past three years a franchise tagged player has signed a long-term extension with the Buccaneers, with the most recent example being in 2022 with wide receiver Chris Godwin.

Winfield Jr. was selected with the 45th overall pick during the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. After winning a Super Bowl during his standout rookie season, his play has continually improved and the statistics back it up.

In 2023, Winfield Jr. set new personal season records in tackles (122), sacks (6), forced fumbles (6), fumble recoveries (4), AND interceptions (3). Social media absolutely caught fire when Winfield was initially not chosen for the Pro Bowl, yet that was ultimately overshadowed by his First Team All-Pro selection, which is the gold standard of NFL personal season achievements. As he begins his fifth season as the star safety for the defending NFC South Champion Bucs, look for plenty of highlights from #31 in 2024.

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Thanks for getting your Buccaneers news here at Sports Club Florida! Make sure to go check out some of our other great contributors for more on your favorite Florida sports teams.

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