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'Twas The Friday Before The Buccaneers

'Twas the Friday before Christmas and that date with the Bucs,
One final home game of a season in flux;

Prehab first for Kyler as surgery awaits,
Colt still in protocol and QB3 in place; (1)

That's Trace McSorley, the kid from Briar Woods, (2)
Trying to show in start No. 1 he's got the goods;

Playing against the GOAT he first watched in a long-ago Super Bowl, (3)
That's Brady, start 331, a division title still the goal; (4)

The Bucs have underachieved all season long,
The Cardinals? There's little that hasn't gone wrong;

Tackle Kelvin Beachum may not be able to play,
Another O-lineman forced on the sideline to stay; (5)

But Hamilton might be back in the secondary,
That's good – Hop at corner would be scary; (6)

Perhaps Kliff returns to his ways on fourth down, (7)
In an effort to halt any drive breakdowns;

Or at least to hedge against third-down troubles, (8)
Without conversions offensive problems double;

On defense, Brady in the sights of renaissance Watt,
A well-timed sack always provides the kindest cut; (9)

Kingsbury still trying to get his team executing to the letter,
Denying that leaving his job would make things better; (10)

It's a spot on "Sunday Night Football" on NBC,
For national television a close game will be the key;

The Cardinals will wear the Christmas combo red-over-red,
It's the holiday spirit – and a few TDs? – they hope to spread;

James Conner thinks the end goal is now respect,
It's fair with the playoff chances long wrecked; (11)

In the season's final home game, the Cardinals can show some fight,
And have Budda say after, "now that's a good night."

  1. Kyler Murray has been in every day working on his prehab and getting ready for his ACL surgery. Colt McCoy is trending the right way in concussion protocol -- he's out for Sunday -- but he could be available starting next week. It's Trace McSorley's Christmas Extravaganza this week.
  2. When he was in college at Penn State, McSorley's legion of fans was big enough that someone wrote a song about him, including the line that he was from Briar Woods. "We gave him hell for that one when it first came out but it's a dope song," said wide receiver Hollywood Brown, who came into the league with McSorley with the Baltimore Ravens.
  3. Age is but a number. Still, this is what McSorley said when asked about going against Brady. "One of the first Super Bowls I remember as a kid was him against the Eagles. I want to say that was '02 or '03, something like that. That was one of the first Super Bowls I remember sitting down and really being into the game and watching it, as opposed to just being a kid running around on Super Bowl night having fun." That was the Super Bowl after the 2004 season, when the Patriots beat the Eagles for Brady's third title. McSorley was 9.
  4. The Buccaneers are in first place. But they are only 6-8, with the other three NFC South teams 5-9. Tampa needs this game badly.
  5. If Beachum cannot play with knee and ankle injuries -- and after the way his leg was collapsed last week when McCoy hit him on the play McCoy was injured, it's crazy it wasn't worse -- the Cardinals will use a new starting right tackle for the first time this season, they will use their 11th different offensive line combination to start a game, and they will have lost every single one of their starting offensive linemen this season for at least one game.
  6. It's trending that Antonio Hamilton and that's good. Marco Wilson will play. Both missed last week, and the Cardinals were so short at cornerback "Hard Knocks" showed DeAndre Hopkins offering his services as defensive back. Did DC Vance Joseph think about maybe using Hop in the secondary? "I did not. But at the time it crossed my mind, if we lost one more corner, we could put him at free safety. Not really. Don't tell Hop I said that."
  7. The Cardinals did not go for it on a single fourth down last game, the first time they had not in a game this season.
  8. The Cardinals have converted only 6-of-26 third downs the past two games.
  9. J.J. Watt is playing excellent football, had three sacks last week and given Brady's protection issues this season, could find his way to another sack or two. He has 9.5 sacks this season; he hasn't had a double-digit sack season since he had 16 in 2018.
  10. Kingsbury was asked about the truth of an ESPN report on Friday that said he was "miserable" and that he would consider stepping down after the season. "No," he said. "I haven't seen it, but no."
  11. I asked Conner if this was the hardest season he's every gone through. "Hard? I think every year is hard. There have been some things that have popped up non-football related that I felt like were a distraction, but hard? The game is hard enough. Record-wise I guess, but the game is hard in itself. It was challenging, but like I said, we're going to finish strong."

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas/happy holidays. See you Sunday.

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