The Buccaneers enter Sunday holding the second pick in next year's NFL Draft. Only a victory can snatch it away.
That fact has given credence to rumors Lovie Smith showed up in Detroit this weekend with a team of imposters.
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If Lovie's gang that can't shoot straight wants to lose to the Lions, Lovie just has to bring his offensive line of Keystone Cops.
Wanting to lose is a bit sacrilegious, and Smith and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazer don't sound as if they are interested.
But there is a fact that can't be denied: The Bucs have more to gain by losing their last four games than pulling out a couple victories.
It's not shameful. The evacuation at Dunkirk turned out to be the right move in the long run.
And let's not dismiss the Kelly factor.
Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly reportedly is willing to trade the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin's statue and quarterback Nick Foles to get the rights to Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. He might even throw in Donovan McNabb, who at age 38 could be an improvement over the Bucs' current signal callers.
Washington gave up three first round picks and a second-rounder to get Robert Griffin III. So if Kelly offers something similar, why wouldn't the Bucs be interested in how to make it happen?
Tampa Bay is going to have a new offensive coordinator next season after parting ways with Jeff Tedford, so the offense will have to learn a new scheme anyway.
The Bucs defense has played well during the last month and allowed an average of 14 points per game during the past three games.
It has significantly improved in five of its past six games, though the Bucs faced a series of less-than-stellar quarterbacks in Brian Hoyer, RG3 and Jay Cutler, not to mention the Dalton Gang's Andy.
There are emotional reasons for not wanting to lose.
There is pride. There is ego. And if you are a player, there is a matter of keeping your job.
Second-year cornerback Johnthan Banks with a career-high four interceptions is starting to justify his second-round selection and cornerback Brandon Dixon, another body Lovie picked off the street, has looked better than advertised.
They don't want to lose.
Frazier has a big stake in getting victories because he is sure to be a candidate for any vacant head coaching job.
But chances for a loss are good.
Against Detroit, the Bucs have to worry about Calvin Johnson and Golden State, a daunting task even with scatter-gun Matthew Stafford throwing the ball.
"Golden Tate has really given them quite a bit. ... I can't recall them having a second receiver having this type of an impact in recent years," Frazier said. "To have another guy you have to contend with really kind of opens up their passing game, and now that they get Reggie Bush back that will open up some things as well.
Despite the benefits of losing, Smith sounds like a guy who has had enough of that at 2-10. Now we don't know how important a new quarterback is to him, but all those potential draft choices via trade are tempting.
"They're scars (losing close games); they stay with you, but you do have to move on because you have another opponent," the coach said. "You can't let the same team beat you twice."
Lovie doesn't have to swallow his pride. He just has to coach. His penalty-stricken offensive line should do the rest and find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.