The Athletic is wrong about Bucs one ‘must-watch’ game in 2023
By Josh Hill
While listing each NFL team’s one must-watch game this upcoming season, The Athletic missed the mark on its pick for the Buccaneers.
Now that the NFL schedule has finally been released, we can fill the upcoming dead period on the football calendar with rampant speculation about how games four months out will go.
That’s not a knock, either. Despite what Todd Bowles says, part of what makes the schedule so much fun to look at is the blank slate of promise and hope it represents. Who looked at the Cincinnati Bengals 2022 schedule and had them in the Super Bowl? Did anyone outside of Philly look at the Eagles schedule and predict an 8-0 start?
Hitting a bit closer to home, so many folks had the Bucs as a 12-win team this time last year, only to watch the team finish under .500 and limp into the playoffs.
Breaking down the schedule is fun because there’s no way to actually be right. Is there a more Extremely Online thing than that?
While it’s impossible to be right about predicting a team’s schedule this time of year, it is possible to be wrong — or at least misguided — about how it’s interpreted.
The Athletic lists one must-watch game for Buccaneers in 2023
A recent piece in The Athletic picked one must-watch game for each team in the NFL, selecting the Week 3 game against the Eagles for Tampa Bay. While the game is one of the Buccaneers two primetime matchups this year — assuming they don’t get flexed later in the season — it’s not the one must-watch game on the schedule.
Dan Pompeii argues the intrigue revolves around what it will tell us about kind of team Tampa Bay will be this season.
"The Bucs’ first prime-time game in 2023 will tell us everything we need to know. After opening up at Minnesota and hosting Chicago, they play the defending NFC champions on a Monday night. If the Bucs can give the Eagles a game, it will be an indication that the obituaries were premature."
He’s not entirely wrong, but the Buccaneers will not be making or breaking their season three weeks in.
There’s a chance the Bucs get their doors blown off by a vastly superior team, which would tell us in the moment that they’re not contenders. Writing off a team in September is foolish, even a team with seemingly as little to look forward to as Tampa Bay.
How many times have teams encountered early season turbulence only to later turn it around. Last year Tom Brady navigated a season full of turbulence before crashing out in the playoffs, and we’ve seen teams find ways to turn it around after slow starts.
It’s fair to question whether the Bucs have the right pieces to pull that off, but to suggest a what could be an 0-3 start means the season is over is simply wrong. If that’s the case, why even play the remaining 14 games on the schedule and skip right to picking No. 1 overall in April?
Week 3 will border on a must-watch if the Buccaneers come into the game with one or more wins, but it’s certainly not the hinge on which the season will swing.