TAMPA - Wow.
This has been quite a week over at One Buc.
Coming off an impressive Thursday night win over the Vikings, the Bucs head to Oakland without two of their starters, one by choice.
First came the season-ending toe injury to All-Pro guard Carl Nicks.
Then today, troubled Cornerback Aqib Talib was traded to the NE Patriots.
As much as Talib has been a pain in the side of this football team, he was a talented defensive back.
Yet, his off the field problems put him in the "will not return" category for 2013, so the Bucs got what they could for him, and NE obliged with a 4th round pick.
So, looking at the big picture, attrition has made this a worse football team in the short term.
What the Bucs do with that 4th round pick in the next draft will determine the long-range prognosis.
In any case, no one is feeling sorry for the Bucs. Certainly not the Raiders.
They have their own problems.
A decent defensive front, that is about it, except for RB Darren McFadden.
If this game was played here in Tampa, Bucs would have little problem beating this team.
Since the game is in Oakland, history tells us there could be big problems for the Bucs.
The boys are winless there, 0-5 to be exact.
Not exactly a glowing positive to hang their hat on.
I am really impressed how the Bucs have progressed in the past three weeks.
I am also looking at this game Sunday with great trepidation.
I just can't see the Bucs making any kind of shift to the offensive line that will make up for the loss of Carl Nicks.
He and Donald Penn were the staples Doug Martin gained yards behind.
Martin's success was running off the left side.
Now, I'm not so sure the Bucs can carve out enough room to give Martin the crease he needs.
That will put the onus on Josh Freeman.
He has come on in a big way lately, but I just don't like slinging the football 40 times on the road. Not a winning recipe.
Just when I think I've got a gauge on this team, we are hit square in the face with another unknown.
I've been in Oakland and seen the Bucs get smoked.
For the past two days I've been trying to find something, or hear something that would sway me to go with the boys this week.
I just can't. History is against them.
So, I'm going to take the Raiders minus the 1 ½ points.
TK's pick: Raiders – 1 ½
TK vs. spread 4-3