Let’s take another look at the various “Power Polls” and “Power Rankings” across the prominent sports news sites to see where the Buccaneers stand after Sunday’s win over San Diego, their fourth win in the last five weeks:
On one hand, Tampa Bay’s latest victory didn’t have nearly the same effect on their average spot in the polls as did the Week Nine victory in Oakland. On the other hand, that’s actually a product of the Buccaneers’ continued success. It’s a lot easier to leapfrog the teams in the 11-20 range than it is to move all the way up into the top 10.
That said, Tampa Bay is now a top 10 team according to at least one Power Ranking. They’ve been slotted exactly 10th on the FOXSports.com poll, which is organized by former NFL Head Coach Brian Billick. The Bucs, who are slotted between the Patriots and Seahawks, took the top-10 spot of the New York Giants, who dropped from ninth to 14th. Noting the Bucs’ recent offensive surge, Billick specifically credits QB Josh Freeman for avoiding interceptions over the last month.
Elsewhere, the Buccaneers mostly find themselves between #12 and #14 on the various Power Rankings. For instance, the NFL.com’s version put Tampa Bay at 12th, up one spot from a week ago. Writes Elliot Harrison, who presents the poll after it is compiled from a group of site experts:
“Resilient performance from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Philip Rivers did whatever he wanted to do on their field in the first half, but whatever second-half adjustments Greg Schiano’s staff made, they worked. Tampa picked Rivers twice in the fourth quarter, and outscored San Diego 17-3 over the final 30 minutes. Don’t look now, but this club is 5-4 and in the thick of the NFC wild-card race.”
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com became a believer last week, boosting Tampa Bay all the way from 28th to 15th on his list. The win over San Diego gave the Bucs another bump, but necessarily not as large. Prisco puts Tampa Bay 13th, which keeps them still just ahead of division-rival New Orleans. The Saints also got a two-spot boost from their win over Atlanta. “Watch out. Here come the Bucs,” warns Prisco.
ESPN.com had moved the Bucs to #13 a week earlier, so it’s a hold-steady for them as they come in 13th once again this week. In fact, the three-team block of Indy, Seattle and the Bucs all stayed put at #11-13, just outside the top 10.
The Bucs did manage to jump one spot in the poll over on ProFootballTalk.com, up to 14th. While most rankings gave Tampa Bay a pretty significant nudge after the Oakland game, PFT stayed steady at 15th, but did at least give the Bucs a slightly higher slot this week.
SI.com weighed in on Wednesday and has also given the Bucs a small bump, from #14 to #13, with fellow Florida squad Miami being the team tumbling out of that latter spot. Senior Editor Don Banks is worried about the Bucs’ upcoming schedule, but says “the future looks even better than the present in Tampa Bay.”