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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Mini-Bye Week Viewing Guide for Bucs Fans | 2023 Week 8

While Buccaneer players are taking a weekend of rest in their mini-bye following a Thursday Night Football matchup, Tampa Bay fans can find several teams to root for during the Week Eight slate

Mini-Bye viewing guide_

After suffering a 24-18 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football at Highmark Stadium, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will receive much-needed rest during an allotted mini-bye to assess and regroup for the latter stretch of the year. There are certainly enough injury concerns on the team to warrant praise to the football gods for the placement of a long weekend. Nose tackle Vita Vea missed Thursday's game against the Bills with a groin injury, after struggling to move side-to-side during warm ups. Baker Mayfield dealt with a knee injury this past week and was limited in practice on Tuesday. Then during the Thursday Night Football showdown with the Bills, left tackle Tristan Wirfs was slow to get up on a play early in the first quarter. He was able to wince through the pain and finished the game out, often hobbling between downs in noticeable discomfort.

A clean bill of health for those guys can certainly be something for Bucs fans to root for. This period will provide the club time to ponder where they fit in the NFC South race and the time to adjust. Despite losing three of their previous four games, the Bucs still control their own destiny. Everything is still in play and with an improved third-down defense, pass rush and run game, the Bucs become a tough team for any club to beat. After being held under 16 points in the last three contests, the Bucs' offense will strive to get back on track in Week Nine against Houston.

The Bucs currently sit at 3-4 and second place in the division after a 16-13 loss to the Falcons in Week Seven, which put Atlanta in the driver's seat of the NFC South. Atlanta is 4-3 and has 10 games left on its schedule of opponents ranked lower. If the Bucs are going to contend, they need their division rival to stumble. There is plenty of NFL action this weekend around the league and every viewing experience – popcorn included – is enhanced with a specified interest. So, who should Bucs fans root for in Week Eight? Here are some suggestions for teams to root for as the Bucs enjoy a mini-bye. This is your 2023 viewing guide.

Minnesota Vikings (3-4) at Green Bay Packers (2-4), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

This is the rare occasion that you will find me rooting for the Green Bay Packers. The storied franchise has become a non-divisional nemesis for the Bucs in recent years, but the Minnesota Vikings possess the same record as the Bucs and currently sit one spot ahead of Tampa Bay in the too-early wild-card standings. The Vikings hold second place in the NFC North behind the 5-2 Detroit Lions. They are in the mix for a wild-card spot by beating a member of the league's upper-echelon, the San Francisco 49ers in Week Seven (22-17). In last week's matchup, Jordan Addison tallied two touchdowns to the tune of 123 receiving yards, while Camryn Bynum picked off Brock Purdy twice. The Vikings will look to build off that rousing win and hopefully for Bucs fandom, the Packers can find synergy to get a W. Green Bay has struggled with slow starts, amassing just 26 points in the first half this season, including just six in their last three games, and Sunday provides an opportunity for reinvigoration.  

Verdict: Go Pack Go!

New Orleans Saints (3-4) at Indianapolis Colts (3-4), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

After dominating the Patriots 34-0 in Week Five, the new Orleans Saints have dropped two in a row. The Bucs' NFC South rival has failed to find its groove offensively and even though the Saints were able to move the ball for a couple of late touchdowns against the Jaguars in a comeback bid, Jacksonville put the clamps on the Saints' proud defense. The Saints are one game behind the Bucs and sit in third place, in front of the winless Carolina Panthers. Despite a loss to the Browns last week, the Colts displayed Gardner Minshew's rushing ability and Josh Downs has developed into one of the best pass-catching threats with a historical rookie rise, while Jonathan Taylor looks closer to his return to peak RB1 form. For Bucs fanatics, it is always a good day to root against the Saints and Sunday is no different.

Verdict: Go Colts!

Philadelphia Eagles (6-1) at Washington Commanders (3-4), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Hard to actively root for the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that is currently dominating the NFC, however, the Washington Commanders sit one spot behind the Buccaneers in current wild-card standings at 3-4. This will be an interesting NFC East matchup to watch. The Commanders are third in their division race, with the New York Giants in the fourth slot (2-5). With a demoralizing 20-point loss to the struggling Chicago Bears in Week Five and a loss to the Giants last week, the Commanders will strive for redemption. The last time these two teams met in Week Four, the game went into overtime and the Eagles won with a field goal. Anything can happen in the NFL from week-to-week, and this will be an NFC East battle to monitor, as it could affect the wild-card seedings down the road.

Verdict: Fly Eagles Fly!

Atlanta Falcons (4-3) at Tennessee Titans (2-4), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

This matchup will be the most pivotal. After the Bucs suffered their third-consecutive loss in Buffalo, they dropped to 3-4. Tampa Bay currently sits at one game behind the 4-3 Falcons, who play the Titans on Sunday afternoon. For Atlanta, Desmond Ridder has had an up-and-down season and turned the ball over three times in the red zone against the Bucs. However, with overtime approaching, he moved the offense down the field for a Younghoe Koo walk-off field goal. Bucs fans should hope for another Falcons' faltering on the road and a tally in the defeat column. All division games will have big implications on the 2023 slate and like always, rooting against a division rival is a no brainer.

Verdict: Go Titans!

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