Best Case: 11-5
For some teams, 11-5 isn’t that big a deal. For the Patriots, Packers, Chiefs, and some others, it’s simply business as usual. For the Buccaneers, eleven wins is a big deal. It would be the highest win total since 2005, twelve seasons ago. Winning eleven games would set the Tampa Bay area into a frenzy of hype unlike anything we’ve seen in more than a decade. I believe that if all their gambles pay off and Jameis Winston is able to reach the next echelon of quarterback play, the Buccaneers ceiling is eleven wins.
They aren’t a Super Bowl contender by any means yet, but on paper Tampa has the horses to win a lot of games in the NFC. The NFC North – Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, Chicago – isn’t easy sledding, but an eleven win Bucs team will pull three wins from the group. Two wins will need to come out of the pool of the Cardinals, Dolphins, Giants and Patriots, while bad teams like the Jets and Bills need to be a pair of W’s. Within the NFC south the Bucs have proven they can contend any week with Atlanta, so it’s more than reasonable to believe they can split the season series with them. Sweeps can’t be ruled out against both the Saints and Panthers, but we’ll just say that they sweep the Panthers and split with the Saints.
If the Bucs get four division wins, three NFC north wins, three AFC east wins, and a victory against one of the Giants, Patriots or Cardinals, they’re looking at eleven wins. Now, perhaps they surprise even my lofty expectations and do even more, but that’s the most realistic best case I can envision if the offensive line, secondary, and kicking game all hold up, and the team is able to stave off the injury bug.
What’s the best record you can realistically see the Bucs getting to this year? Is there a scenario where you can plausibly see them struggling?