Early Prediction: Bucs over Raiders

January 21 - While some deeper analysis will follow later in the week, Pewter Report editor-in-chief Scott Reynolds eats some crow after picking the Eagles over the Buccaneers last week, and has an early prediction for Sunday's big game: Tampa Bay over Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII.

I caught a lot of flak from Bucs fans for picking the Eagles over the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game. I'm sorry, but I'm not a homer. I picked the Eagles because I thought their defensive front would be too much for the Bucs' offensive line to handle. I was wrong, and it's GREAT to be wrong!

I'm also not anti-Buc, nor am I an Eagles fan. I picked the Bucs to win the Super Bowl last year and even picked them to make the playoffs and go 10-6 while in the process. I was perfectly happy to be off by two wins during the regular season, and I'm thrilled that the Bucs are going to San Diego. There are so many deserving players, coaches and personnel people in that organization that need a shot at winning a championship -- let alone the Bucs' great fan base in Tampa Bay and across the world.

That being said, I am picking the Bucs to beat Chucky's old team, the Oakland Raiders, in Super Bowl XXXVII. Not to get those few angry Bucs fans off my back for picking the Eagles, but because I thought the Philly game was going to be the biggest challenge for Tampa Bay. I thought if they could beat the Eagles they could beat anyone. The Bucs' confidence is soaring and this team is peaking at just the right time.

I like the Bucs receivers against the Raiders corners, and the entire Bucs defense against Oakland's offense. I also think Tampa Bay's offensive line will do enough to keep Brad Johnson's jersey relatively clean for one more game.

But the biggest factor will be Jon Gruden's familiarity with his old team. Jiminy Christmas! The Raiders are still running his offense. He knows the personnel and he knows their tendencies. The Raiders might know some of Gruden's tendencies, but they haven't played the Bucs since the 1999 season, and half of Tampa Bay's roster never played in that game.

As he was in the NFC Championship game, I think Gruden will be the difference-maker. As for a Super Bowl MVP, I like cornerback Brian Kelly or quarterback Brad Johnson. Both players were passed over for the Pro Bowl, as was cornerback Ronde Barber, who was the MVP of the NFC title game. Now it's Brad or Brian's turn to get their time in the spotlight.

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