THE GAME POEM
THOUGHTS ON THE TAMPA BAY BUCS
- Bucs offense is simple. They want to hand the ball off a zillion times to Doug Martin and then make plays down the field to Mike Evans off play-action. If their running game is shut down it greatly limits their effectiveness to move the ball/score points.
- Earlier in the week I paired the Bucs and Bears as two teams that weren’t ready to put themselves in the thick of a playoff chase. Four weeks ago the Bucs were 5-5 and positioned well to make a run at the 6th seed. Since then they’ve lost to a Luck-less Colts, a Saints team playing out the string and were roughed up last Thursday night by the Rams until mounting a late comeback. This is a team with a lot of weapons and a bright future. But they’re not there yet. The question will be whether Lovie can get them over the top in 2016.
- Tampa’s rush defense is very good, allowing 30 less yards per game on the ground than Chicago. If the Bears think they’re going to control this game on the ground it’s unlikely. The way to attack Tampa is to isolate a couple familiar fellows at the backend of their secondary (Conte, Wright…etc.) and throw the ball down the field. The question will be whether any of the Bears receivers can get any separation.
NEW CHRISTMAS CLASSICS
Each year, from Thanksgiving until Christmas, I (like many) indulge in the joy that is the Christmas movie. And it surprises me that movies and television shows still find their way into the rotation. This last year produced two new additions.
A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS
It’s television the way television used to be made in the days of soundstages and cigarette holders and Dean Martin. Everything about it is a throwback and it’s still completely original. The highlight? George Clooney popping out repeatedly from behind Christmas trees to deliver the chorus of Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’.
DIFFICULT PEOPLE, “DIFFICULT CHRISTMAS”
The best new comedy on television in 2015 was Julie Klausner’s Difficult People and the final episode of the season, the Christmas episode, might have been the best. The highlight? Klausner getting fired from her job as a gift wrapper for reciting the story of Capturing the Friedmans to a customer.
GREAT MOMENT/MEDIOCRE SHOW
MONEY MOUTH: THREE PICKS FOR WEEK 15
Seven games over .500. Three more is the goal. Can I get there? Yes. Yes I can. In brief…
ARIZONA -4.5 OVER GREEN BAY & UNDER 49.5 PTS
My theory on this game is simple. I think the Cardinals are a very good team. I think the Packers are mediocre (at best) and the relationship between their coach and quarterback has never been so combustible. Cardinals 27, Packers 10.
DENVER -3 OVER CINCINNATI
The Bengals had a much harder time with the San Francisco defense than many expected. I don’t buy A.J. McCarton and I certainly don’t buy him on the road, against one of the best defenses in the league, without Tyler Eifert. Broncos 24, Bengals 16.
Season Record: 25-18-2
THREE BEARS OF INTRIGUE
- John Timu had a wonderful debut at middle linebacker and Fox/Fangio would love nothing more than for Timu to thrive over these final weeks. Lovie’s Tampa team is 5th in rushing attempts, 4th in yards rushing per game and 1st in yards per attempt. Timu will have no shortage of opportunities to make plays against the run.
- Gerald McCoy is still a force for the Bucs and it’d be surprising if he doesn’t spend much of the game challenging Hroniss Grasu.
- Where the hell is Lamarr Houston in these games (besides offside)? Willie Young has been the Bears only legitimate pass rush threat since Pernell McPhee’s injured and his knee and one can only wonder how much more effective he’d be if someone was getting to the quarterback from the other side.
Jameis Winston has the ball in his hands, 2 minutes to go, with a chance to win. He spots Austin Sefarian-Jenkins open in the flat on first down, rolls that way and delivers the ball. BUT IT’S TIPPED BY JARVIS JENKINS! The ball floats into the air and is intercepted by Shea McClellin. He slides to the ground.
Chicago Bears 23, Tampa Bay Bucs 17