Will the Bucs be better or worse than their preseason projections?

  • Buccaneers are projected at 6.5 wins this season
  • Not many folks are expecting them to go over that total
  • Let's make the case for both arguments
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages
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The Buccaneers enter the 2023 NFL season with uncertainty as the predominant emotion surrounding the franchise. The loss of Tom Brady has seen the league-wide assessment of the Bucs reach a point of low confidence, resulting in many betting markets and analysts assuming that Tampa Bay will have a season to forget.

These markets and analysts seem to be hovering around a projected win total of about six games for the Buccaneers in 2023.

Let's break down three reasons why they'll go over that total, but two reasons they might not.

Why They Should Be Better: Top Talent

To put it simply, when compared to other projected bottom-feeder teams like the Texans, Colts, and Cardinals, Tampa Bay has significantly more superstars across their roster. Even without Tom Brady, there are arguably five players in the starting lineup that are top-5 in the NFL at their position (Tristan Wirfs, Ryan Jensen, Vita Vea, Lavonte David, Antione Winfield Jr.).

And that’s not even counting the duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, neither of whom are top-5 receivers but who form one of the league’s best one-two punches at wide receiver together. That is a wealth of superstar talent that elevates this Buccaneers roster above the rest of the NFL’s projected bottom tier.

Why They Might Not Be: Depth in the Trenches

That being said, those superstars might not be able to hide the deficiencies behind them. Most significantly, the Buccaneers have had a hard time recently finding success from their linemen. The offensive line woes have been much discussed since the start of last season, but they haven’t really gotten much better.

Ryan Jensen has returned and will take over the center spot with, hopefully, the same attitude and physicality he’s become known for. And Tristan Wirfs remains – though the Bucs are taking the major risk of moving him away from the position where he’s become one of the best players in the game. But Shaq Mason, brought on to help the void left by the departing Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa, is gone. That leaves both guard positions vulnerable, and the left tackle spot filled by Luke Goedeke – last seen on the bench after several games of being definitively outmatched in the interior of the line.

That’s a worrisome lineup if they cant gel into a unit greater than the sum of their parts.

Additionally, on the defensive side, Vita Vea anchors a line that the Bucs' brass has desperately tried and failed to return to the level of the fearsome group that helped win a Super Bowl just a few years ago. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Logan Hall have yet to flash any consistency or high-end talent, and new addition Calijah Kancey has never played an NFL snap yet already faces questions about his physical ability.

Again, this group could mesh into a unit that can lead this defense, but as of now the lack of depth on both sides of the ball should be a worry for Bucs fans.