A Good Starting Point?

Earlier this week, ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas made an interesting observation in his NFC South Blog about the Buccaneers’ current 3-4 record.  Yasinskas points out, probably from personal recollection as a former Buccaneers beat writer, that Tampa Bay was also 3-4 in each of the three seasons from 1999-2001.  Those are the last three times the Bucs had started a season 3-4 until 2012.

Yasinskas says the Bucs’ 3-4 record this year may be a good omen, as all three of the 1999, 2000 and 2001 teams used that record as a starting point for a playoff run.  The 1999 team finished 11-5 and made it to the NFC Championship Game while the 2000 and 2001 teams earned Wild Card berths after 10-6 and 9-7 finishes, respectively.

The point left unsaid, and probably because it was fairly obvious, is that all three of those teams went immediately from 3-4 to 4-4.  As a matter of fact, the 1998 Bucs also started out 3-4 before evening their record after eight games, and though that squad missed the playoffs at 8-8, it was the last team eliminated from the NFC field.  The ’98 Bucs concluded their regular-season with a 35-0 win at Cincinnati and needed an Arizona loss to get into the postseason, but learned during their flight back to Tampa that the Cardinals had pulled out a last-second win.

Obviously, the 2012 Buccaneers would rather be 7-0 than 3-4, and they have several teams they’ll have to climb over in order to get into the playoffs.  But at least the team’s history with 3-4 starts is encouraging…they key, it seems, is to win Game #8.  The Bucs play at Oakland on Sunday.

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