Latest NFL Power Ranking gives Buccaneers some respect while burying the Falcons

For once, Tampa Bay gets some national recognition from a media outlet ahead of the 2024 season.
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

Throughout the offseason, several analysts and fans alike have expressed their doubt about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers repeating as NFC South division champions in 2024.

Most sportsbooks are leaning the same way too, giving Atlanta the best odds to win the division. New Orleans has nearly identical odds to Tampa Bay, giving the idea of a toss-up between the Saints and Bucs for second place.

Not exactly the place you’d expect the defending division champs to be in, especially since the team didn’t get worse this offseason.

While most experts are dismissing the Bucs, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio is doing the exact opposite and giving Tampa Bay some love.

PFT’s latest NFL Power Ranking lists Buccaneers as Top 10 team

Surprisingly, Florio put the Bucs as the No. 9 team in the league, well ahead of their division opponents Atlanta (No. 19), New Orleans (No. 24), and Carolina (No. 32).

"For some reason, they still aren’t being taken seriously," Florio said of Tampa Bay, "They should be."

While Todd Bowles has had two mediocre years as the Bucs' head coach, Mayfield echoes Florio's statement, especially with linebackers Devin White and Shaq Barrett marked as Tampa Bay's biggest losses in free agency.

“It doesn't matter, it's pretty much right where they had us last year," Mayfield said. "Nobody's played it down yet, we're all working for the same goal but mentality-wise this team, we're hungry, we're back at it. At this point, it's pretty much expected for people to underestimate the Bucs. but we just put our heads down and work.”

The hype around Atlanta entering the season is warranted with the signing of veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins. Between Cousins and the selection of Michael Penix with the No. 8 pick, the Falcons addressed and improved their biggest position of need drastically. Even with lackluster play behind center last year, Atlanta still managed to go 7-10, and can certainly reach double-digit wins behind Cousins and/or Penix.

That said, the Buccaneers are coming off a 9-8 season with a 31-9 thrashing of the Eagles in the NFC Wild Card game, and managed to return the majority of their core players in free agency. Not only did general manager Jason Licht re-sign Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans, Lavonte David, Antoine Winfield Jr., and Chase McLaughlin, but Licht engineered strong free agent and to bolster Tampa Bay's roster entering 2024.

It will be worth watching the transition from Dave Canales to Liam Coen at offensive coordinator, with the latter marking Mayfield's seventh different offensive coordinator in six seasons. Regardless, it's nice to see some media outlets and analysts like Florio that recognize the Bucs, who are flying under the radar once again in 2024.