Buccaneers’ fans, we have entered the equivalent of the Dead Zone of the NFL year. Moving the draft to May will only help modestly with the horrible period from the end of the free agency frenzy until the start of training camp. So the other day when I sat down with some friends, one of whom I have not seen for a long while who is an avid Bucs’ fan, he asked, “How many wins do the Bucs get this year?” We tried to predict our best gut instinct picks as to which side Tampa Bay would end up on in every game this season. Here is what we came up with:
Week 1 @ New York Jets: This is a must win for the Bucs. If you cannot beat a team coached by a Rex Ryan and led by a QB who runs into his right tackle’s butt, it is going to be a long season. Revis Bowl I goes to Tampa.
Bucs’ Record: 1-0.
Week 2 vs. New Orleans Saints: Winnable game. Last year, the Bucs gave this one away in a second-half explosion by Brees. This will be a major litmus test for the Bucs to see how their offseason has helped them stack up in the division. I think this year they sneak away with one. The Saints’ revamped defense will probably not yet be gelled, and the Bucs pass defense should be much better than last year.
Bucs’ Record: 2-0.
Week 3 @ New England Patriots: This is another measuring stick game. Can the Bucs compete against a perennial contender and an elite opponent? Let’s be honest, I don’t think we’re ready to climb that mountain yet. Tom Brady and Company at home take this one.
Bucs’ Record: 2-1.
Week 4 vs. Arizona Cardinals: They always say you have to win the games you should win, whatever that means. This is a “should win” game. Arizona has no QB. Don’t talk to me about Carson Palmer. As I was saying…
Bucs’ Record: 3-1.
Week 5 BYE
Week 6 vs. Philadelphia Eagles: This split the group. In the end it was decided that this game was early enough in the season that Chip Kelly’s offense and defense, both of which are completely revised, expanded, refurbished, and up-tempo, will not be fully in sync. And if Mike Vick is running the read option every other play he will probably be in a full body cast by Week 6.
Bucs’ Record: 4-1.
Week 7 @ Atlanta Falcons: Tampa plays the Falcons hard. Being a divisional opponent they are not worried about the record of the once-Dirty Birds. To me, Atlanta did not do much this offseason. Losing Michael Turner was not a huge blow but I do not think that Stephen Jackson will run the rock in this game. However, we gave the edge to the Falcons:
Bucs’ Record: 4-2.
Week 8 vs. Carolina Panthers: Carolina is not very good. They will not be able to run the ball on Tampa’s defense, and they will find it much harder to move the ball through the air than they did last year.
Bucs’ Record: 5-2.
Week 9 @ Seattle Seahawks: This is a tough assignment. I do not think this years’ team can travel to the west coast and beat a very good Seahawks team.
Bucs’ Record: 5-3.
At the mid-season mark 5-3 is not bad, folks! But much like last year’s team, it will be how Josh Freeman does in crunch time, and how well the team can survive the injuries that are inevitable in the NFL that determine how the Buccaneers will finish the year.
So what do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know how you think the Bucs will do in their first eight games!