Normally, I don’t even attempt to start predicting how a season is going to go until the team has set their rosters and had a nice training camp to work out the kinks and fully explore the playbook, but since I keep being asked how I see the season going given my confidence in both Jameis Winston and the new coaching staff, I decided to sit down and do at least a minimal season preview in regards to how I think they’ll finish.
I won’t be breaking down every game individually until training camp rolls around and the rosters are set, as there are still too many changes that can take place for every team in the league, and any number of players can go down during training camp and never see a game. The biggest hurdle the team is going to face this year without a doubt, is the grueling travel schedule that will see them have the longest road travel time in the league along with the Oakland Raiders, but the Bucs seem to play fairly well on the road, so I don’t think it will be as big of drawback as some might like to think.
When you first take a glance at the schedule, there are a few games that jump out at you as what should amount to an easy win, and a couple that jump out at you and scream no way in hell do they walk out with a victory, but overall, it’s a very manageable schedule, an one that will see the Buccaneers with a winning record and a possible playoff berth.
The 49ers, Giants, Titans, Cardinals, and Lions should all be games that the Bucs can walk out of with a win as long as they take care of the ball and just stick to their game plan. In those four games, they will play two at home and two on the road, proving that while playing at home is nice, it isn’t necessary in order for a team to eat a W.
Assuming the Rams stay healthy and continue on from their success of last season, you can add them in with the Colts as two games that not only will the Buccaneers come up short, but if they aren’t careful, can wind up in both games being massive blowouts given the high powered offenses of both teams and stout improving defense.
The rest of the games are likely to be extremely close and a turnover or missed opportunity could swing the outcome either way for both teams. The division rival games always prove to be tough ones for everyone involved, and we know the Saints aren’t going to just roll over and play dead as long as Brees is behind center. We could find ourselves splitting all 3 divisional matchups with both teams taking a win, but assuming the Bucs can squeeze out two wins against the Panthers or Falcons, that leaves the Seahawks and Texans as the two games that will decide the outcome of the season.
Based on the toss-up divisional games, we could drop both games to the Saints, and a game to the Panthers, and still find ourselves sitting at second in the division with a record of 10-6 or 9-7 which is a huge improvement on the back to back 5-11 seasons we posted. We have finished second in the division only once in the past decade and have only posted a winning record twice in the past decade, so knowing we have the opportunity to tie the best record we’ve had since going 11-5 in 2006 should have every Buccaneers fan excited and ready for the start of what promises to be an exciting season.