Several incentives linger for Bucs in regular-season finale vs. Falcons

TAMPA — Now that they have clinched the NFC South and the accompanying postseason berth, the Bucs’ regular-season finale Sunday in Atlanta doesn’t necessarily qualify as must-see TV.

But a few factors make it worth watching. For one, coach Todd Bowles reiterated Wednesday that Tom Brady and the other healthy first-teamers will start (even if they don’t finish). Additionally, a collective desire exists to preserve the mojo harnessed during the team’s recent two-game win streak.

“I think you’ve got to build momentum going into the playoffs,” cornerback Carlton Davis said.

“And I felt like in previous years, (former coach Bruce Arians) always emphasized that ‘We’re not resting anybody.’ You don’t want to come off slow, you don’t want to not be in your bag — as some would say — going into the playoffs, when you should be hot and you should be peaking.”

But still other incentives will be in play Sunday. A game with zero bearing on the playoff bracket has considerable worth on paper, particularly for those who value milestones and, to a certain degree, legacies.

Consider what is at stake:

• Tom Brady will try to avoid his first losing season in 21 years (excluding 2008, when he was injured) as an NFL starter.

• Brady needs nine completions to break his own NFL single-season record (485) set in 2021. Additionally, he can improve to 12-0 for his career (regular season and playoffs) against the Falcons.

• A win Sunday would be Brady’s 33rd as a Buccaneer, tying Doug Williams for second place on the franchise’s list of wins by a starting quarterback. Trent Dilfer (38) ranks first.

• Former Gators quarterback Kyle Trask, inactive for 31 of the 32 games of his NFL career, is expected to suit up and could log his first regular-season action.

• Chris Godwin needs only 32 receiving yards for the third 1,000-yard season of his career and second in a row. Less likely, but certainly plausible, is the franchise’s single-season receptions mark: Godwin (98 catches) needs nine to break the record set by Keyshawn Johnson in 2001. (For those wondering, Godwin has no bonuses in his new contract for a 100-catch or 1,000-yard season.)

• If Godwin reaches the millennial mark, it will mark only the fourth time in franchise history the Bucs have boasted two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season. Godwin and Mike Evans (currently at 1,124 yards) have done it each of the last two years.

• Lavonte David and Devin White are neck-and-neck for the season’s total tackles crown. White has 122, David 121.

• Ryan Succop needs only three field goals to break the franchise’s single-season mark of 32 shared by Matt Bryant (2008) and Martin Gramatica (2002). Succop has five games of at least three field goals this season.

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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