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Playoff Preview

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Staff predictions

By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 12, 2002


GARY SHELTON

Bucs 16, Eagles 13: Every Bucs game is 13-13 with two minutes to go. This time, Martin Gramatica kicks a 43-yarder at the gun to keep the controversy buzzing for one more week.

RICK STROUD

Bucs 13, Eagles 6: Bucs defense rises to '99 form in keeping the Eagles out of the end zone and gives Tampa Bay its first road playoff win.

ROGER MILLS

Bucs 17, Eagles 14: Considering how well the defense has played recently, it's hard to figure the offense won't score enough points to win. Bucs win a close one.

DARRELL FRY

Bucs 20, Eagles 17: The Bucs are hot after a late-season push that should carry over into the playoffs. With Tony Dungy's job likely on the line, they won't get pushed around again like they did in Philly in last season's playoff game.

* * *

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

JOHN MADDEN, FOX

'"The interesting thing about this game is that cold-weather thing. I don't know how cold it'll be, but Tampa Bay really doesn't play well in cold weather. That's not just a statistic. I think that's a fact. I think the class of the NFL right now is the St. Louis Rams, and they have the home field throughout. . . . But I think if there's anyone in these NFC playoffs that can beat the Rams, it's the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and they've proven it. Just a few weeks ago they beat them. For some reason, the Rams don't like that defense. It really matches up well against what the Rams do. . . . That's jumping ahead. Now, how big a game is this in Philadelphia? If Philadelphia wins, they go play Chicago. If Tampa Bay wins, they go play St. Louis, and I think they're the team that can beat St. Louis. Having said that, I don't think they can beat Philadelphia in Philadelphia."

JOE THEISMANN, ESPN

"It's a myth when people say the Bucs can't win in cold weather. Statistically, there is some truth because they are 0-20 when the temperature is 40 degrees or lower, but they would have won last season in Green Bay had it not been for a missed field goal. Plus, last week I was at their practice in Tampa when it was windy, rainy and only 35 degrees. I kidded the Bucs players, saying they at least proved they could practice well in lousy weather. The Eagles are riding momentum and feeling good about themselves after wrapping up the NFC East title against the New York Giants. Tampa Bay has to feel good about itself, too. Psychologically, the Bucs have told me there is a big difference between this year and last year when they lost at Philadelphia in the wild-card round.

THE SPORTING NEWS

Familiarity breeds the need for revenge. The Buccaneers will be looking to avenge last year's first-round playoff loss to the Eagles under the same circumstances on the road, but the only difference this season is that coach Tony Dungy's job is in serious jeopardy -- and his players are well aware of it. We got a brief preview of this game last week, as these two teams squared off in a meaningless junior varsity game in Week 17. Regardless, with Philadelphia winning the teams' last two meetings, the Buccaneers will desperately want a win to get over the wild-card hump and save Dungy.

The lineup

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