The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into the new NFL season looking pretty good. They were fresh off winning the Super Bowl against a high-octane Kanas City Chiefs side and had most of their championship team coming back.
They started the season right where they left off and raced out to a 6-1 record. However, since then, the Buccaneers dropped two straight, one right after their by-week, and people have begun to question if they have it in them to repeat. However, can Tom Brady lead a team to back-to-back Super Bowls since he did it for the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005?
The problem with trying to repeat as champions is that the player’s hunger dwindles slightly. It isn’t by design or intent, but it’s challenging to keep that same fire when you have achieved something that you were desperately trying to do. However, that’s not to say they have lost their intensity, but they need to maintain it throughout the season. They are still first in the NFC South, and many still tip them to make the Super Bowl. In fact, NFL betting odds have them as the favorites at +600, just ahead of the Buffalo Bills, who are +650. The fact they remain favorite despite dropping two games shows the faith people still have in this team.
The number one reason for that is Brady. He is the most winning quarterback in NFL history and is known for his killer mentality. Brady is the player who brought this group together last year, even in his first year with the team after two decades with the Patriots. Being the last QB to win back-to-back Super Bowls, he knows what it takes to get a group over the line again, and he is more experienced now.
What is imperative to every NFL Super Bowl winner’s success is health. Franchises spend the off-season accumulating as much high-level talent as possible with the hope that it can all be put together during the season. However, fitness can be detrimental to that talent forming cohesion and developing good habits during the season.
Injuries in the postseason have a noticeable effect in deciding the eventual winner; however, an injury during the year can also prove catastrophic if a crucial player is out for a prolonged period. Last year, the Buccaneers were able to keep Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown relatively healthy, and they gave vital contributions in the title game. Nevertheless, this year they have picked up niggling injuries, apart from Brady, which could cost them when they enter the postseason. The likes of Sean Murphy-Bunting, Carlton Davis, and Antoine Winfield Jr. have picked up knocks this year in what has been a congested injury list.
Finally, the Buccaneers need luck to repeat as champions. The NFL probably has the most parity among the major American sports. The New England Patriots were the outlier during Brady’s run with the team but repeating in the NFL is extremely difficult. Not only will they have to be at their peak, but they have to hope that all the little bounces that often decide football games go their way. It may appear silly to think that luck plays such a pivotal role, but some of the most dominant regular-season teams get bounced in the playoffs from plays that most teams couldn’t practice for or predict. Brady himself will even admit how luck played a role in his illustrious career.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still probably the team most likely to walk away from this season as Super Bowl winners, and if the past 21 years have taught us anything, it’s not to bet against Tom Brady.