I won't make a definitive statement like I did with the Redskins, but in my opinion, the Bucs are flying very under the radar. The Bucs are 8-3 and have replaced the Panthers as the leaders of the NFC South. If the playoffs started today, the Bucs would be the No. 2 seed and have a bye into the next round.
So, let's take a look at what makes the Bucs so good.
1. Well, their defense helps. Allowing under 16.5 points a game, the Bucs D ranks third in the league in that category and are in the top five in two other defensive categories, yards allowed, and passing yards allowed, ranking second in the latter.
Their rush D isn't bad either, allowing 100 yards, they rank 12th. The Buccaneers have allowed 20 or less points in seven of their 11 games thus far, and the highest total they have given up came against the Chiefs. They also have three TDs through their D.
2. So we've already established that their defense is not too shabby, but what else? The numbers on offense aren't too flashy, but look closer. Garcia alone averages a whopping 274.3 passing yards per game and only three interceptions. They also have a nice RB tandem, although Earnest Graham is now done for the year.
Both Warrick Dunn and Graham have over 550 yards and have a combined six touchdowns. So, to avoid saying the obvious, by saying their defense and offense are good, this category will be the individual play, as the numbers aren't that flashy.
3. Special teams- Yep, they even succeed here, too. Matt Bryant has made over 86 percent of his field goals, and all his misses have come from 40+ yards, half of them coming from 50+ yards.
This may seem trivial, but the Bucs rank in the top 10 for most punts inside the opponents 20. This actually does matter, an NFL game is won and lost on field position. Add two Clifton Smith returns for touchdowns, and you have yourself one extremely balanced team.
I truly believe the Bucs are underrated simply because their stats aren't nearly as flashy, as say, the 5-5 Saints, specifically Brees. They might not be flashy, but hey, I'll take Garcia's mere three INTs to Brees' 11.
As for the rest of the year, well, their schedule is not too favorable. They have the Saints, Panthers (whom they beat 27-3 the first time around), Falcons (whom they beat 24-9 in their first meeting), and then two sub-500 teams in San Diego and Oakland.