Tampa Bay Buccaneers Have No Lineup Changes Planned For Week 18

Todd Bowles, Buccaneers
NFL Analysis Network

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially clinched the NFC South divisional crown in Week 17 with their victory over the Carolina Panthers. It was certainly the outcome many had predicted coming into the season, but no one could have envisioned the Buccaneers struggling to these lengths to accomplish it.

Tampa Bay is now 8-8 on the season and locked into the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs. Things have been a struggle for them at times this season with injuries ravaging the roster, but they put together arguably their best offensive showing of the season against the Panthers, winning 30-24.

Looking to carry that momentum over into the postseason, head coach Todd Bowles has no plans to rest his starters in what amounts to a meaningless Week 18 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. Nothing can change from the Buccaneers’ perspective whether they win or lose to Atlanta on Sunday afternoon.

“We can get better at a lot of things, so right now, we plan on playing him,” said Bowles. “We’ll see how the week goes going forward, but we can get better at a lot of things that we need to work on, and we don’t need our foot off the gas.”

There is certainly a strong argument that could be made for both sides. Given how good they looked in Week 17, the Buccaneers want to build off of that and keep some positive momentum heading into the postseason. Despite having the GOAT Tom Brady leading the offense, things have been a struggle at times in 2021.

There is also a risk of sitting players and knocking them out of rhythm heading into the playoffs. But, on the other side of the coin, the Buccaneers would likely benefit from sitting some players so that they could rest up, get healthy and avoid injury in preparation for Super Wild Card Weekend. Alas, that isn’t something Bowles seems overly concerned about.

“It’s football. You can’t play 16 games and then worry about the 17th,” Bowles said. “You can’t play three preseason games and 16 games and practice every day and say, ‘You may get hurt on the 17th game.’ You can get hurt the first week. You can get hurt in training camp. If you worry about that, you’re probably gonna get hurt anyway.

“We signed up to play football and coach football. That’s what we’re gonna do. And everybody that loves football, that loves to play, will play the game. Injuries are gonna happen. It doesn’t mean it happens in Week 17, a playoff game or preseason. You just gotta coach it and you gotta play it. You worry about injuries, you probably don’t need to be playing a sport.”

Bowles left open the possibility of sitting players in the second half of the game, as it would be something that he needs to discuss with his staff. However, he can expect some pushback from Brady, who acknowledged that he would be disappointed if he were to sit out this upcoming week against the Falcons.

Whatever is for the betterment of the team is what should be done. Bowles has to weigh the pros and cons of each side and come to a decision about what would benefit the Buccaneers the most. Right now, playing the starters is the direction that he is leaning in.