Dr. J's Super Bowl XXXVII Outlook

Super Bowl XXXVII, or as it's known in Chargers fans circles, the nightmare of all nightmares. After a 20 year absence, the Silver and Black is back in the Super Bowl that just so happens to also be right here in America's Finest City. In the other corner, making their Super Bowl debut are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who have finally come to the big dance on the strength of their very talented defense.

I hate this.

I'm not supposed to as a writer, but I can't help it. I'm biased. I hate that the Raiders are in the Super Bowl. I hate Al Davis and all the meddling that he's done over the years in the NFL. I hate Bill Romanowski and his drug-dealing ass (allegedly) is vying for his record tying 5th Super Bowl Championship ring. I hate that the Raiders are holding practice at the Chargers facility. And mostly, I hate the Raider fans that will no doubt find a way to make their presence known in our fair city in one way or another.

Just for those reasons alone, I will gladly pick the Buccaneers to win Super Bowl XXXVII, but my choice is based on more than just blind hatred. I'd like to think that I've got a better head on my shoulders than that.

Oakland is without a doubt, the hottest team in the NFL right now. We've seen what a hot streak can do for a team that is clicking at playoff time. And the Raiders are clicking. They have dominated teams offensively with their very talented line and that quick strike passing attack that can hit long with Jerry Porter, down the middle with Tim Brown, or down the seam with Jerry Rice. Rich Gannon does not make and has not made mistakes in the pocket. He runs when he needs to, he throws the ball away when it's necessary, and makes the throws he needs to make, even if it means he throws off his back foot and sidearm. He can make the throws that are needed. And if the Raiders want to run the ball, they can do so quickly (Charlie Garner), with good power (Tyrone Wheatley), or with the power of a wrecking ball (Zack Crockett).

But after having said all that, why am I picking the Buccaneers? Sheer hatred for the myopic Raider fans who couldn't spell "CAT" if you spotted them the "C" and the "T"? No, there's more to it than that.

First of all, there's the Buccaneers defense, perhaps the finest defensive unit that we've seen since the 1985 Chicago Bears. They are loaded with Pro Bowlers past and present and future all over that side of the ball: Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Simeon Rice, Shelton Quarrles. It's an amazing unit that has given up just 19 TDs in 18 games this season. The Bucs are familiar with the West Coast offense having faced Brett Favre and the Packers over the years, the Eagles and Andy Reid's version, and the 49ers and the original version.

And then there's the X-factor in all of this, Buccaneer head coach Jon Gruden.

Raider fans may or may not want to admit this, but the four years under Gruden are the reason that the Raiders are in the Super Bowl. He was the one that brought Rich Gannon in as a free agent to run the offense. He was the one that purged the roster of such dead waste as Jeff George and Chester McGlockton. His fingerprints are still all over this Raider team. And if anyone has any inside information on the Raider strengths and weaknesses, it would be Gruden. There‚s also the payback factor, and everyone knows what is said about payback.

The Buccaneers offense will be the key. They have proven themselves in the last two playoff games putting up 31 against the 49ers and then moving the ball very well against a tough Eagles defense in an even tougher place to play. Their offense may not be as talented or flashy as the Raiders offense, but they may have the right personnel to move the ball well on the Raiders‚ defense. They will have to work the clock, keeping the Raiders high flyers off the field. That means running Aaron Stecker, Michael Pittman, and Mike Alstott more often.

Should the Raiders blitz; the Bucs would have Keyshawn Johnson one-on-one with either Charles Woodson, Tory James, or Terrance Shaw. He has the size to keep his body between his defender and the ball and needs to be more involved in the short passing game. If the Buccaneers follow the Tennessee Titans offensive playbook and skip the part about turning the ball over twice deep in their own territory, they can handle this Raider team.

So can the Buccaneers save San Diego from a Raider Super Bowl victory in the Charger's backyard? I don't know, but I do know that it will be fun to actively root for one team over the other in a Super Bowl for the first time since 1994.

I just wish the team that I was rooting for was wearing blue and gold instead of red and gold.

Dr. J can be reached at: Dr. J

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