With three wins in four tries since the bye week, the Buccaneers are charging back into the NFC playoff race. And, after the latest win in Oakland, which included yet another enormous performance by the league’s hottest offense, they are finally moving up in the various media “Power Rankings,” as well.
For instance, Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com has moved Tampa Bay up a whopping 13 spots this week, from #28 all the way to #15. That’s the biggest move by any team in the CBS poll, either up or down. The next biggest move is the New Orleans Saints, the Bucs’ division mates who are now breathing right down Tampa Bay’s neck at #16.
Prisco says the Bucs are “in the playoff hunt,” and that the next two games against San Diego and Carolina could be the key to the team’s postseason hopes. Prisco also lauds Head Coach Greg Schiano for doing a “top-notch job” and calls Tampa Bay both “fun to watch” and “relevant again.”
Tampa Bay made the biggest jump in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings, as well. ESPN had already moved the Bucs up to #21 after their impressive win in Minnesota, but the Oakland game gave them another eight-spot bump, all the way up to #13. ESPN wasn’t as quick to give the same boost to the Saints after Monday night’s victory, jumping them just four spots to #22.
It’s a similar story on the Power Poll on NFL.com, where Tampa Bay’s six-spot jump to #15 is the biggest leap of the week. This one, interestingly, is not the creation of a single analyst but an amalgamation of 13 different expert opinions. You can check out the individual rankings of each analyst, but we can tell you that you’re probably going to appreciate Gregg Rosenthal’s the most and Gil Brandt’s the least. Rosenthal has Tampa Bay at #12, Brandt has them at #21. The other 11 experts all slot the Bucs somewhere between 14 and 16.
The Power Rankings on ProFootballTalk.com don’t have the helpful up and down arrows to show each team’s weekly rise and fall, but a quick check of the previous week’s standings show that Tampa Bay was already at #15. Thus, it’s a hold-steady week for the Bucs on PFT, as they are #15 again this week, somehow getting jumped by the Lions, who went from #16 to #14 after winning at Jacksonville.
Brian Billick is even higher than the rest on the Buccaneers, ranking them 11th in his latest Power Rankings on FOXSports.com. That’s an upward climb of five spots from last week, and Billick thinks the Bucs are here to stay as a contender, calling them a “tough out for the remainder of the year.”