In a league where Brett Favre is texting pictures of his “Love Below” (Andre 3000 reference) and The New England Patriots are being stormed with comparisons of Tom Brady and Justin Bieber’s hair and questions about their severed relationship with Randy Moss, I think we can stand to highlight a team that is being overshadowed in the midst of such buffoonery. What the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done thus far in this young season cannot go unrecognized. Prognosticators from the rooter to the tooter had this team in the basement of the NFC South, if not the entire conference. How’d we do on that one?

Right now, Tampa Bay is only behind the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South standings. When you look at the numbers, they aren’t necessarily the type that warrant such a record, but if we learn nothing else as fans of this sport, we have to embrace the fact that numbers are not everything. While I have not seen every Buccaneers game up to this point, I can see in the highlights that something fuels this team to victory. Second year head coach Raheem Morris, who a lot of you never heard of before his appointment to the position in 2009, has implemented a belief system that helps his players believe there isn’t a team in this league they can’t beat. Outside of its 38-13 drubbing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bucs have played with the intestinal fortitude needed to  garner wins. Second year quarterback Josh Freeman is proving to be a serviceable quarterback who is careful with the ball. Rookie receiver Mike Williams is becoming a household name and Tampa Bay’s pass defense is in the top 10 for 2010.

I can’t say how the rest of the season will pan out for this group, but I had to recognize the stellar play it showed in the first quarter of the season. Let’s see how the Bucs, and the rest of the league fairs in week six, shall we?

Dolphins over Packers– The uncertainty of Aaron Rodgers led me to go this route. Miami is suffering a two-game losing streak and looks to end it against an ailing Green Bay team in order to stay in the race for the ACF East crown.

Chargers over Rams– San Diego’s trend thus far in the season has gone as follows, loss-won-loss-won-loss. It’s time for the Bolts to win again.

Ravens over Patriots– Baltimore’s passing game is inching its way in the right direction. New England has the wherewithal to win, but its defense is still young and has areas that can be picked apart.

Steelers over Browns–  With Ben Roethlisberger’s comeback just a few days away, the question is, “Will he be rusty or
ready”? Being the professional that he is, it’ll take him a little while to get acclimated to game speed, but he’ll recover soon enough.Look for Cleveland to make Pittsburgh fight tooth and nail for this one.

Chiefs over Texans– Due to some shaky offensive calls and miscues, Kansas City suffered its first loss. They have the coaching staff to lead this team to redemption. While Matt Cassell is still searching for his identity, he’s fortunate to face a pass defense in Houston that can give him confidence.

Giants over Lions– While Detroit have been feisty in every game, its defense tends to break after bending. Big Blue is peaking at the right moment and their skills players are helping Eli Manning out a great deal.

Falcons over Eagles– The combo of Michael Turner and Jason Snelling should make life difficult for Philly’s pedestrian rush defense.

Bears over Seahawks– Chicago’s front seven knows how to press its way into the backfield. The addition of Marshawn Lynch is an interesting one for Seattle, but the jury is still out on how big it’ll be for a team that so far has been schizophrenic.

Buccaneers over Saints– I mean, c’mon, you can’t expect me to open up the way I did and not pick Tampa Bay, can you? New Orleans is staggering its way through the season with its many injuries. Anyone who feels like Reggie Bush isn’t an important cog to the N.O. may want to reconsider that thought.

Jets over Broncos– While most attention has been directed towards Darelle Revis, there is another cornerback who deserves equal attention. His name is Antonio Cromartie. While he’s labeled the number two corner, his play has been that of a number one. It will be interesting to see how he matches up with Brandon Lloyd, who surprisingly is the number one receiver in the league at the moment.

Raiders over 49ers– The good news is that San Francisco’s front office confirmed Mike Singletary’s job status is safe. The bad news is Alex Smith is still the starting quarterback. Until David Carr’s number is called, I’m picking against the team I had winning the NFC West.

Vikings over Cowboys- Is this really a do-or-die game for the two teams that were most projected to make the Super Bowl? It could be! Between Brett Favre’s “tendonitis” and his latest scandal, his starting streak could stop at 289. That would actually be a relief for Minnesota as Tarvaris Jackson deserves a shot to prove himself. Speaking of fresh starts, Dallas is doomed for continued failure as long as Jason Garrett continues his cancerous coordinating of the offense.

Redskins over Colts– Call me a homer, but Washington’s defense is getting pressure in the backfield. We all know what becomes of Peyton Manning when he’s under duress. Also, Indianapolis’ defense has issues defending the run. Washington is finding ways to win games and if they’re in it come fourth quarter, the burgundy and gold finds a way to win this one.

Titans over Jaguars– Jacksonville is on a two game winning streak. They now have the misfortune of facing the dual threat in the backfield known as Vince Young and Chris Johnson. Tennessee looks to separate itself from the rest of the pack and take sole possession of first place in the AFC South.

Last week, I closed out the week at 8-6, putting me at 45-31 for the season. See you in week seven!

By Antoine Hoffman


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