Super Bowl Picks 2003

The chic pick this week is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and I just don't understand it. In the two pro football magazines dropped off in my mailbox, writers are stunningly, and lopsidedly, picking the Bucs to win the Super Bowl. Even the handicapper that won't take me off his mailing list is picking the Bucs. Terry Bradshaw? Bucs. Dan Marino? Bucs.

Their former coach, Tony Dungy, told the Indianapolis Star that the Bucs will romp because of their defensive speed. Hey, where were all of these people last week when the Bucs were similar dogs to the Philadelphia Eagles? No one said a peep.

To all of this I have two words: Paper Champions. Just when you like the Bucs again, they kill you again. They cannot run the ball and their defensive front seven, if you remember, is very small without Booger McFarland. The Raiders have the huge line to move 'em out on the ground and the passing game to go for the kill. Their defense is also good enough to stop a pedestrian Bucs attack. And all of that insight Jon Gruden may have into his former team? Remember, there are 10 new starters on the Raiders' defense this season.

Don't get caught up in this wave of insanity sweeping the prognosticating world. You've seen the Paper Champions and their act before. You know what to do. ... Raiders, 24-14.

-- Jim Wexell


Forget about what the Bucs did to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles, themselves, would be hard pressed to stay with the Raiders. Parity reigns supreme, but the upper tier lies in the AFC. Had any one of the AFC's divisional champs made the big enchilada, they would be an easy favorite over Tampa.

Some people tend to think that the Bucs' win last week wasn't a huge upset. But, if you look at the numbers and the fact that the NFC Championship was the curtain call for the Vet, then the Bucs pulled off an enormous upset. Or the Eagles choked. It depends on which way you eat the Oreo.

So, what will happen this week? Well, the Raiders will find scoring tough in the first quarter, lead by 7 at half, and then Mike Alstott will produce one of his patented game-killing fumbles, and the Raiders will win by 14. Oakland 27 Tampa 13.

-- The SteelApple


All season long, the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been the two best teams in the AFC and NFC, respectively.

Sunday, they'll get a chance to prove which conference was better when they meet in San Diego to play Super Bowl XXXVII.

Breaking this game down, it's going to come down to this: the league's best offense - Oakland - vs. league's best defense - Tampa Bay.

Since hitting a mid-season lull in which they lost four consecutive games, the Raiders have reeled off wins in nine of their past 10 games.

Their offense, led by NFL MVP quarterback Rich Gannon, is as difficult to defend as the St. Louis Rams were when they won Super Bowl XXXIV.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has seen its defense play as dominating as the Baltimore Ravens did in winning Super Bowl XXXV.

It only seems fitting that we now get to see which style it is - high-powered offense or dominating defense? - that still wins championships.

In today's NFL, follow the offense.

Las Vegas has installed the Raiders as slight favorites in this game and for good reason.

The NFL today is all about offense. The league has adjusted its rules to allow for more scoring because offense sells tickets and keeps fans tuned in on television.

Defenses, even very good ones like Tampa Bay's, are at a competitive disadvantage.

Offensive linemen can all but tackle defenders. Wide receivers mug defensive backs. But defenders shouldn't even think about hitting the quarterback hard or a wide receiver with anything but their shoulder.

That's why the Raiders will win this game today.

When the Steelers played the Bucs at the end of the regular season, they lined up in running formations and threw the ball, attacking Tampa Bay's supposed strength.

If you can force playmakers like linebacker Derrick Brooks and safety John Lynch to think run first, the Bucs' defense can be beaten.

Brooks, the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, is very good and will make some plays to keep running back Charlie Garner from breaking off any long runs. But those 10 and 15 yard bursts that Garner can make if he finds a seam are the kind of plays that will keep a defense on its heals.

Defensively, the Raiders will attack the line of scrimmage against the Bucs, who have a terrible offensive line and no running game.

Oakland should also be able to lock up in coverage on Tampa's big, but slow, wide receivers, forcing quarterback Brad Johnson to look for a lot of dump passes to running back Michael Pittman.

But those kind of plays aren't going to beat the Raiders.

Tampa Bay's defense should be good enough to keep the game relatively close, but their offense won't be able to keep up with Oakland, and that will be the difference.

Look for the Raiders to get owner Al Davis another Lombardi Trophy with a 24-17 win.

-- Dale Lolley


If I'm watching the Superbowl Sunday evening, I want to be entertained. I have no interest in either team, so I want to see a close game, a back-and-forth contest. I want to see both teams make a strong case for being called "defending World Champions" a gazillion times next season.

Won't happen though. Sadly, the Buccaneers are the only thing more over-hyped this week than the game itself. For all the credit their defensive backs get, the Raiders trio of Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, and Jerry Porter will school them. With all due respect to Bucs CB Ronde Barber and his impressive performance against the Eagles, the Bucs just do not measure up, and that includes the highly over-rated John Lynch. The best thing I can say about Lynch is that he is better than Lee Flowers. ‘Nuf said.

Everyone, including yours truly, has been waiting for the other shoe to drop on the old folks from Oakland. Well, forget about it. It won't be dropping on Sunday either. The same collective age that fed so many doubts will be the experience that drives the Raiders to a decisive and lopsided victory. Jerry Indianapolis Star that the Bucs will romp because of their defensive speed. Hey, where were all of these people last week when the Bucs were similar dogs to the Philadelphia Eagles? No one said a peep.

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To all of this I have two words: Paper Champions. Just when you like the Bucs again, they kill you again. They cannot run the ball and their defensive front seven, if you remember, is very small without Booger McFarland. The Raiders have the huge line to move 'em out on the ground and the passing game to go for the kill. Their defense is also good enough to stop a pedestrian Bucs attack. And all of that insight Jon Gruden may have into his former team? Remember, there are 10 new starters on the Raiders' defense this season.

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Don't get caught up in this wave of insanity sweeping the prognosticating world. You've seen the Paper Champions and their act before. You know what to do. ... Raiders, 24-14.

-- Jim Wexell

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Forget about what the Bucs did to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles, themselves, would be hard pressed to stay with the Raiders. Parity reigns supreme, but the upper tier lies in the AFC. Had any one of the AFC's divisional champs made the big enchilada, they would be an easy favorite over Tampa.

Some people tend to think that the Bucs' win last week wasn't a huge upset. But, if you look at the numbers and the fact that the NFC Championship was the curtain call for the Vet, then the Bucs pulled off an enormous upset. Or the Eagles choked. It depends on which way you eat the Oreo.

So, what will happen this week? Well, the Raiders will find scoring tough in the first quarter, lead by 7 at half, and then Mike Alstott will produce one of his patented game-killing fumbles, and the Raiders will win by 14. Oakland 27 Tampa 13.

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-- The SteelApple

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All season long, the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been the two best teams in the AFC and NFC, respectively.

Sunday, they'll get a chance to prove which conference was better when they meet in San Diego to play Super Bowl XXXVII.

Breaking this game down, it's going to come down to this: the league's best offense - Oakland - vs. league's best defense - Tampa Bay.

Since hitting a mid-season lull in which they lost four consecutive games, the Raiders have reeled off wins in nine of their past 10 games.

Their offense, led by NFL MVP quarterback Rich Gannon, is as difficult to defend as the St. Louis Rams were when they won Super Bowl XXXIV.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has seen its defense play as dominating as the Baltimore Ravens did in winning Super Bowl XXXV.

It only seems fitting that we now get to see which style it is - high-powered offense or dominating defense? - that still wins championships.

In today's NFL, follow the offense.

Las Vegas has installed the Raiders as slight favorites in this game and for good reason.

The NFL today is all about offense. The league has adjusted its rules to allow for more scoring because offense sells tickets and keeps fans tuned in on television.

Defenses, even very good ones like Tampa Bay's, are at a competitive disadvantage.

Offensive linemen can all but tackle defenders. Wide receivers mug defensive backs. But defenders shouldn't even think about hitting the quarterback hard or a wide receiver with anything but their shoulder.

That's why the Raiders will win this game today.

When the Steelers played the Bucs at the end of the regular season, they lined up in running formations and threw the ball, attacking Tampa Bay's supposed strength.

If you can force playmakers like linebacker Derrick Brooks and safety John Lynch to think run first, the Bucs' defense can be beaten.

Brooks, the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, is very good and will make some plays to keep running back Charlie Garner from breaking off any long runs. But those 10 and 15 yard bursts that Garner can make if he finds a seam are the kind of plays that will keep a defense on its heals.

Defensively, the Raiders will attack the line of scrimmage against the Bucs, who have a terrible offensive line and no running game.

Oakland should also be able to lock up in coverage on Tampa's big, but slow, wide receivers, forcing quarterback Brad Johnson to look for a lot of dump passes to running back Michael Pittman.

But those kind of plays aren't going to beat the Raiders.

Tampa Bay's defense should be good enough to keep the game relatively close, but their offense won't be able to keep up with Oakland, and that will be the difference.

Look for the Raiders to get owner Al Davis another Lombardi Trophy with a 24-17 win.

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-- Dale Lolley

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If I'm watching the Superbowl Sunday evening, I want to be entertained. I have no interest in either team, so I want to see a close game, a back-and-forth contest. I want to see both teams make a strong case for being called \"defending World Champions\" a gazillion times next season.

\r\n

Won't happen though. Sadly, the Buccaneers are the only thing more over-hyped this week than the game itself. For all the credit their defensive backs get, the Raiders trio of Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, and Jerry Porter will school them. With all due respect to Bucs CB Ronde Barber and his impressive performance against the Eagles, the Bucs just do not measure up, and that includes the highly over-rated John Lynch. The best thing I can say about Lynch is that he is better than Lee Flowers. ‘Nuf said.

\r\n

Everyone, including yours truly, has been waiting for the other shoe to drop on the old folks from Oakland. Well, forget about it. It won't be dropping on Sunday either. The same collective age that fed so many doubts will be the experience that drives the Raiders to a decisive and lopsided victory. Jerry