Buccaneers named sturdiest division champion entering season

Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida (Photo by OCTAVIO JONES / AFP) (Photo by OCTAVIO JONES/AFP via Getty Images)
Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida (Photo by OCTAVIO JONES / AFP) (Photo by OCTAVIO JONES/AFP via Getty Images) /

CBS Sports ranked each of the NFL’s division winners from the 2021 season from “shakiest” to “sturdiest” entering the 2022 season, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming topping the list as the sturdiest defending division champion. It’s easy to see why the Buccaneers were chosen for the top spot.

It’s kind of funny how every division in the NFL essentially has its own story. Sure, things have changed a bit since the Houston Texans came into the NFL in 2002 and the divisions re-aligned, but narratives are narratives. Suffice to say, things have looked up for the Bucs since the old NFC Central disbanded and they now reside in the NFC South, but that’s a story for another day.

Some divisions like the NFC East are constant battles, the quality of said battles varying with each season, then some divisions have been monopolized by certain teams, like the AFC East when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s New England Patriots had a two-decade-long stranglehold on the division. The point is, that every division is unique.

Speaking of Brady, now that he is the quarterback of the Buccaneers, their spot atop the NFC South has never been more secure, especially given the quality of the other three teams that share the division.

With this being the case, it was only natural that CBS Sports decided to rank the Bucs as the “sturdiest” division winner with the best chance of repeating as champs on their list. When it came to the Buccaneers’ position of defending their NFC South crown, CBS Sports had this to say:

"“Look no further than the man under center. Ever since Tom Brady returned from ‘retirement,’ they became the story of the NFC, if not the NFL. The transition from Bruce Arians to Todd Bowles on the sidelines is an underrated X-factor, but Brady’s still in his prime at 44, and his weaponry remains elite. Meanwhile, the Saints are acting like they’re still in contention but have questions at QB and coach, the Panthers are in the same boat, and the Falcons may have the league’s worst roster.”"

That pretty much sums it up. Couldn’t have said it any better.

Sure, the Buccaneers have a new head coach like the New Orleans Saints, but Todd Bowles at the very least had the New York Jets at 10-6 at one point. The Jets. Meanwhile, the new head honcho in the Big Easy, Dennis Allen, was a consistent 4-12 with the Raiders. So there’s that.

For those keeping score at home, the rest of the list of defending division champs ranked from sturdiest to shakiest following the Bucs were the Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys, and lastly the Cincinnati Bengals. Hard to argue with that list save for a few spot-jumps here and there.

At the end of the day, anything can happen in the NFL. However, it’s not difficult to see why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the strongest chance of repeating as division champions of the NFC South, per CBS Sports, and just basic logic.