The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have put fans on a roller coaster ride all preseason long, but the regular season is just around the corner. Rosters will be trimmed down and depth charts will be finalized this weekend, but there’s already a pretty clear indication who the key contributors are going to be for the Bucs this season.
So with that in mind, I present the third and final portion of Plank Predictions: My 2013 Buccaneers’ Season Predictions, shown in game-by-game form. No more introduction. Let’s get to it.
Week 1, at the New York Jets – Win
The Buccaneers head to New York and take care of Geno Smith and the Jets offense. The Bucs’ offense might not be in top gear yet, but Doug Martin will be, and he will be enough to carry the Bucs to a win.
Week 2, versus the New Orleans Saints – Win
If the Buccaneers are going to “get” the Saints in 2013, it will be at home near the start of the season. There’s no reason to believe the Saints’ defense will be any good this year, so this will likely be a bit of a shootout. But I think the Buccaneers have enough to defense to get this victory.
Week 3, at the New England Patriots – Loss
This offseason, I had this chalked up as a win, because I just couldn’t see the Patriots having the offense to be as good as they have been in the past.
I was wrong.
The Patriots are going to be a juggernaut this season, because Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce, and Danny Amendola seem to be perfect fits for Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels’ offense. And the defense is going to be good enough to get them the win at home over Tampa Bay.
Week 4, versus the Arizona Cardinals, – Win
Carson Palmer is not Kurt Warner, and there is absolutely no running game in Arizona with a shaky offensive line and injury prone running backs. The Buccaneers will probably not get their biggest win of the season thanks to a decent Cardinals’ defense, but they’ll leave no doubt that they were the better team when they come out ahead of the Cards.
Week 6, versus the Philadelphia Eagles – Win
This game could turn out to be like the Raiders game last season for the Bucs. Doug Martin might break his team record against the Eagles’ defense, but a healthy Mike Vick will be able to keep the Eagles in the game. But I think the Bucs have the team speed to deal with the Chip Kelly offense.
Week 7, at the Atlanta Falcons – Loss
I am not sold on the Falcons this season, but I don’t see them giving up this game to the Buccaneers. I think this will be a close matchup for the Buccaneers both at home and in Atlanta, but the Falcons get the advantage in the ATL.
Week 8, versus the Carolina Panthers – Win
Last season the Buccaneers got a Week 8 victory on Thursday Night Football, and they’ll do it again in 2013. The Panthers might have “linebacker Jesus” and an improved front seven, but Cam Newton is still Cam Newton, and the Panthers don’t have the pieces on offense to challenge the Bucs’ new look defense.
Week 9, at the Seattle Seahawks – Loss
The Bucs are just not going to be able to manage a west coast road trip and also manage one of the most talented teams in football. I am not saying it will be a blowout, but I just see no way the Buccaneers win this game.
Week 10, versus the Miami Dolphins – Win
Miami spent big this offseason, but I am left with a general feeling of “more of the same” when I look over their roster. They lack an explosive running game, and Ryan Tannehill is best on the play action. That’s not a great combination. The Buccaneers may give up a big play or two, but overall I think they have the edge at home over the Fins.
Week 11, versus the Atlanta Falcons – Win
As I said above, I am not sold on Atlanta, and I believe the Buccaneers can beat them in Raymond James this season. The Falcons are not as well-rounded as many other Super Bowl contenders, and I believe they’ll struggle to defend the Buccaneers’ offense, and the revamped Bucs’ defense may present some problems as well.
Week 12, at the Detroit Lions – Win
I am assuming the “Revis Island” Darrelle Revis is wearing number 24 for the Buccaneers all season long, and not a shell of his former self. Because with his ability to lock down Calvin Johnson, the Buccaneers will only need to worry about a batch of somewhat unimpressive secondary options in the passing game, and Reggie Bush, who might not be fully healthy after playing 11 weeks in the NFC North on a turf home field.
Week 13, at the Carolina Panthers – Loss
It happens every year. There’s a game that Tampa Bay loses and the fans are left scratching their heads. Panic will set in and worrying will begin as Cam Newton finds a way to get revenge and lead the Panthers to a victory over the Bucs.
Week 14, versus the Buffalo Bills – Win
C.J. Spiller doesn’t concern me on offense, as the Buccaneers have the speed to cope with the dynamic rusher. It’s the Bills’ pass rush that worries me, but I feel like it won’t be enough to secure a victory in Tampa.
Week 15, versus the San Francisco 49ers – Win
The 49ers will have to fly from West Coast to East, and while this game would likely be changed to Sunday Night Football if the Buccaneers were doing as well as they are in these projections, it’s a tough task to win on a west to east trip. The 49ers have a very good rushing attack with a dynamic quarterback, but it’s nothing the Buccaneers can’t stop. They’ll have 2 games of Cam Newton, 1 game of Mike Vick, 1 game of Russell Wilson, 1 game of E.J. Manuel, and 14 games of tape on Colin Kaepernick to prepare for this game.
It will be a slugfest, but I think that’s the kind of game Greg Schiano has prepared this team to win.
Week 16, at the St. Louis Rams – Loss
Here’s where it “all falls apart.”
The Rams are going to be better in 2013, and they have a good mix of receiving options that will somewhat resemble the New Orleans Saints’ offense. If Sam Bradford is healthy and competent by Week 16, I believe he’ll earn yet another end-of-season win over the Buccaneers.
Week 17, at the New Orleans Saints – Loss
If the Saints are anywhere near contention at the end of the season, this will be an incredibly tough game. They have a great home field advantage, and they’ll have plenty of time to get their defense in order by this point. The Buccaneers didn’t catch any breaks from the schedule makers by getting two road games to end the season against fairly formidable opponents.
That makes the Buccaneers’ final record in my 2013 projections 10-6.
It’s optimistic, and it relies on health, but at this point I can’t predict the health of the Buccaneers without also considering the toll the season will take on opposing teams.
(Except for Reggie Bush, who I mentioned may be a health concern due to his circumstances playing in Detroit. I don’t wish him any harm, but at this point he’s shown that he’s quite injury-prone.)
10-6 should be enough to make the playoffs, but with a 3-3 division record, it’s tough to know where the Bucs would land with tiebreakers taken into consideration.
Super Bowl Picks
The Buccaneers won’t be featured here.
For the Super Bowl, I have the New England Patriots over the Green Bay Packers. I think the Patriots are impossible to pick against this season, and the Packers are likely to boast a great record and get home field advantage through the playoffs. I think the Seahawks and Texans are next in line, should the Packers or Patriots stumble.