NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

Between the Bills and the Packers, Sunday’s conference championship games provided numerous illustrations of the pitfalls of conservative decision making. Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians helped illustrate some of the potential rewards by sending his offense back onto the field to go for a fourth and three from midfield while leading 14-10 with 13 seconds left in the first half. Had Tampa Bay failed, it could have set the Packers up to kick a field goal before halftime. But instead, the Buccaneers converted and then scored a long touchdown on the very next play to take a commanding 21-10 lead and put the Packers on their heels for the rest of the game. 

“I thought about this scenario: I knew who we were playing. I knew we needed points. The decision had to come fast, but I was like, ‘No we gotta—we have to get points out of this drive.’ So I called to put the offense back out there,” Arians said via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “In that situation, I thought our defense would hold if we went for it and failed. But I did know if we fail, we leave them a play or two and a chance to kick a field goal. But I just thought to myself, ‘A field goal here’s not gonna cost us the game.’ I know I’d get super-criticized if we get stopped and they get a field goal, but that’s one of those decisions you’re paid to make. I liked our chances.“

  • Arians said it’s too early to tell if S Jordan Whitehead, who left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury, will be ready to play the Super Bowl in two weeks. (Jenna Laine)

Panthers

  • ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler says the sense around the NFL is the Panthers will be competitive in the trade talks surrounding Lions QB Matthew Stafford
  • He adds there’s no consensus on what Stafford would cost in a trade but the general thought is a first-round pick and multiple picks in the second through fourth-round ranges. 

Saints

  • Despite drawing interest from the Falcons and new GM Terry Fontenot to leave New Orleans and join Atlanta’s front office, Saints VP of football administration Khai Harley is staying with the Saints, per the Athletic’s Jeff Duncan.
  • The contracts of Saints LS John Denney, WR Tommylee Lewis, OL Cameron Tom and K Blair Walsh expired on Monday, making them free agents. 
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