2003 Football Playoffs 2003 Football Playoffs

Posted: Thursday January 23, 2003 12:11 PM senior producer B. Duane Cross forecasts the title game.
(All times Eastern)
Super Bowl XXXVII
Sun. 6:18 p.m. | ABC
Oakland (13-5) vs. Tampa Bay (14-4)
Torn between all the numbers that have been crunched since Oakland and Tampa Bay clinched Super Bowl berths, I simulated this game three times with Madden 2003 trying to get a feel for Sunday. (And I'm one of the geeks who add a player to the teams' roster when it makes a transaction, so it's as realistic as PlayStation2 allows.)

In the end, as Meatloaf says, two out of three ain't bad. Still unsatisfied, I went back to the spreadsheets ... and to the game console. Playing another best 2-of-3, the Raiders swept. It's insignificant, really, that Oakland won four of five games I simulated ... until you know that the Buccaneers also are 1-4 in real life against the Raiders.

But take solace, Tampa Bay: The Bucs are 1-0 as the home team. The significance of that being Tampa Bay is the home team for Super Bowl XXXVII.

It's a given that you have a 50-50 chance at picking the winner any given Sunday. But as close as this game is on paper ...

• King: Bucs' defense rests its case
• Banks: Bucs' Johnson validated
• Banks: No. 1 D the difference
• Donovan: Raiders too slow
• Donovan: Controversy burns Raiders
• Statitudes: Havenots can have faith
• Statitudes: By The Numbers
• Mandel: Broadcast took its time
• George: Super Bowl ads fun again

  • Buccaneers' Brad Johnson throws a TD once every 21 attempts; Raiders' Rich Gannon once every 24 attempts.

  • Johnson is picked off once every 75 attempts; Gannon once every 62 attempts.

  • Gannon is sacked once every 17 attempts; Johnson once every 21 attempts.

  • Johnson's long pass of the year is 76 yards; Gannon's is 75.

  • Raiders' Charlie Garner scores a touchdown once every 26 rushes; Bucs' Mike Alstott scores once every 29 rushes; But remember, Oakland's Zach Crockett scores once every five carries, which inflates Garner's number.

  • As a team, the Raiders score every 20 rushing attempts, while the Buccaneers average a TD once every 69 carries.

  • Garner's longest run of the year: 36 yards; Alstott's, 32.

  • The Raiders have the No. 3 rush defense; the Buccaneers are No. 5 ... and both allow 3.8 yards per attempt.

  • Each team has seven players with receiving touchdowns, and two players with at least five TDs catches.

  • The Buccaneers have the No. 1 pass defense and allow 10.8 yards per completion; the Raiders are No. 23 and allow 10.9 ypc.

  • Each team has one predominant sackmeister: Bucs' Simeon Rice, 15 1/2; Raiders' Eric Barton, 11 1/2.

    The Buccaneers' Tom Tupa, 42.8 averages per punt; the Raiders' Shane Lechler, 42.5.

  • The Raiders convert 45 percent of third-down plays; the Bucs only 36 percent. As a result, Tampa Bay has punted 91 times, while Oakland has 58.

  • Each team's primary kickoff-returner averages about 25 yards per: Buccaneers' Aaron Stecker, 25.2; Raiders' Marcus Knight, 24.3.

  • The Bucs were plus-17 in turnovers, while the Raiders were plus-12. Tampa Bay had as many interceptions (31) as Oakland had forced turnovers (21 INTs, 10 fumble recoveries).

  • Oakland running backs lost one of five fumbles; the Buccaneers, four of six.

    And that's where the game will be lost as Tampa Bay will do so again Sunday in the most inopportune time.

    Raiders 28, Buccaneers 20

  • Last week: 1-1. Overall: 154-112.