Worst Case: 7-9
The Buccaneers are a team that I expect to be very competitive in 2017. I think that they should contend for the playoffs, whether that comes via wild-card NFC south winners, and will be playing meaningful football in December. However, Buccaneer fans know about let downs from high expectations. A lot can happen between now and the season, and even more once the season actually starts.
The Bucs are gambling on a couple of aspects on their team that could potentially hurt them. Their offensive line is a huge question mark that directly effects the development of Jameis Winston – an obviously crucial element to their success. The Bucs might draft a developmental back-up, but it seems more likely they’ll ride with Ryan Griffin as Winston’s backup this year. Without a decent back-up on the roster a Winston injury becomes the iceberg to Tampa’s Titanic.
Another land-mine is in the secondary where Brent Grimes remains the only proven commodity. The Bucs will need Vernon Hargreaves to improve regardless, but especially if the 33 year old Grimes shows signs of age.
If a perfect storm is indeed created by a mix of injuries and missed gambles I believe that the Bucs floor is seven wins. That would be two more losses than last season and of course considered a big disappointment. Still, they should be able to get a few divisional wins against the Saints and Panthers no matter what, and wins against the Dolphins, Bears, Jets and Vikings should be victories barring a spectacular spree of injuries. The overall strength of the Buccaneer defense should be able to get some ugly, low-scoring victories even if the other parts of the team don’t work out.