Careful what you wish for, Ronde

Updated: January 4, 2008, 4:18 PM ET
By Jeremy Green
Last week, I talked a lot in print, on radio, TV and my podcast, ESPN Football Today, about my conspiracy theory involving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It goes something like this -- after the Bucs found out New York was going to be the No. 5 seed, they purposely started losing football games so they could play the Giants in the playoffs. Flashback to Week 16. The Bucs, who were still in contention for the No. 3 spot, decided to bench their starters after halftime in a loss to San Francisco. That loss guaranteed them the No. 4 seed and a playoff game against the Giants. Had they been the third seed, the Bucs knew they would have been looking at a potential date with the Vikings' top-ranked run offense and run defense, or the red-hot Washington Redskins, or the New Orleans Saints, who had the Bucs beat only to give it away late in a Week 13 clash.

My theory was proven when Ronde Barber was quoted by the New York media saying that of course they wanted to play the Giants. He talked about how New York wins ugly and how Eli Manning is inconsistent at QB. It's simply amazing Barber said that. The Giants win ugly? Does he watch his offense from the sideline? The Giants are 16th in offense, the Bucs are 18th. The Giants are fourth in run offense, the Bucs are 11th. The Bucs may be better in passing offense -- Tampa Bay is 16th while New York is 21st -- but in the only stat that really matters, the Giants are 14th in points scored while the Bucs are 18th. Barber might want to go down the hall and make sure his offense is ready to play on Sunday.