Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The 2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers schedule was released yesterday and now with it comes the dissection of how exactly everything lines up when the season gets rolling on September 7.
The Bucs don’t have an easy schedule, far from it. But there are definitely a number of games they can win and here is a look at five games that the Bucs could come out of with the victory, in no particular order (for the record, I think the Bucs will win more than five games – our predictions will come later).
Week 8 vs Minnesota Vikings (October 26)
The Bucs have their bye week in week 7 so this game against the Vikings comes after the Bucs get the week off. That should greatly aid them against Minnesota, who have games against New England, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Detroit, before making a rare appearance in Tampa. While Adrian Peterson will be a threat, the Vikings quarterback situation shouldn’t cause the Bucs defense too much trouble and the Bucs should cruise past the Vikings at Ray Jay.
Week 9 @ Cleveland Browns (November 2)
After a (hopefully) week 8 win against the Vikings, the Bucs should role into Cleveland and pick up their second straight win since the bye week. The Browns play Jacksonville and Oakland before hosting the Bucs, meaning they could have their own winning streak on the line. However, as long as the Josh McCown sticks to short, intermediate throws against a good Cleveland secondary, the Bucs should leave FirstEnergy Stadium victors.
Week 11 @Washington Redskins (November 16)
Playing the Redskins in Washington won’t be an easy game for Lovie Smith and co. but it’s a game they can definitely win. While the Redskins have an electric offense, it also relies on health, especially that of RGIII, and in recent years that hasn’t held up. What could be problematic for the Bucs is that the Redskins will be coming off of their bye week, but if the Bucs secondary does their job containing Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, and the front seven keep RGIII in the pocket as best they can, the Bucs will win.
Week 2 vs St. Louis Rams (September 14)
The game against the Rams will be the second straight home game to start the season for the Bucs and presents an opportunity for Tampa to go to 2-0 or to least get back to .500 if they fall to the Panthers in week 1. The Rams are a funny team – each year they seem primed to make a jump to the next level, but they don’t. Sam Bradford will be under center again but his inconsistency should provide the Bucs defense with some turnovers. The Bucs’ offensive line will be under a lot of pressure in this game because of the high octane force that is the Rams defensive line, but if they give McCown the time to make his throws then the Bucs should win. Realistically, if the Bucs want to make the playoffs, this kind of home game is a must win.
Week 4 @ Pittsburgh Steelers (September 28)
The Steelers are in a weird spot. Their roster is made up of players who are very experienced and players who have only been in the league a handful of years. It’s the latter part of their roster the Bucs must target to win. Containing Ben Roethlisberger is key – there’s a reason he’s won two Super Bowls. The other part of the equation here is the Steelers schedule in the first three weeks. They play their first two games over a four day stretch, and in week 3 play on Sunday Night Football. The Bucs don’t tend to play well against the Steelers (they’ve lost lost four straight) but week 4 gives them an opportunity to turn the tables.