After 6 weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sit with a 2-4 record. Not where the Bucs players, coaches, or fans wanted to be. This was a season of change and hope; however, both statistics and the eye test reveal not a lot has changed from failed regimes of the past. Through 6 games every person associated with the pewter and red has been elated, frustrated, and heartbroken. Often within the same game. Both offense and defense have shown moments that suggest they could be beaten by your local peewee team and then juxtaposed those with play that has dazzled and sparkled. Such is the life of a Bucs fan! The truly frustrating thing about this team is they alternate between play that would make them unbeatable and play that makes every game a struggle. With that in mind, let’s look over the final 10 games of the season.
At Tennessee Titans – Week 8 sees the Buccaneers travel (of course) to take on a Titans team that has moved on from Winston’s draft mate, Marcus Mariota. The fact that the Titans are 3-4 is irrelevant, playing a backup QB against Tampa Bay is a near-guaranteed win for Tennessee. This should be a winnable game against a team that is equally inconsistent. Big questions for this game are can the Buccaneers get to Ryan Tannehill, and will Jameis protect the football?
Verdict – A rested Tampa Bay just about does enough to leave with the W.
At Seattle Seahawks – The road trip ends with its final destination on the West Coast in Seattle. This will be a tough game against an offense that is rolling and putting up big numbers through the air and a defense that is effective at getting off the field on 3rd down. The matchup for this game isn’t good at all on either offense or defense.
Verdict – The Bucs go down hard, and fans claim the sky is, once again, falling. A tough L
Arizona Cardinals – FINALLY A HOME GAME! Bruce Arians welcomes his former team to Tampa in week 10. The moment a lot of fans were waiting for, and I don’t just mean a home game for the first time in 7 weeks. Arizona comes into this game with a defense that is giving up yards through the air worse than the Buccaneers and an offense dependant on it’s running game. Both phases of the game favour the Bucs, and this is a game that should be used to restore some confidence in the players.
Verdict – Being unable to pass or run is the downfall for the Cardinals as the Buccaneers return to Raymond James with a much needed W.
New Orleans Saints – The big question is whether or not Drew Brees is back under centre for the Saints. With or without Brees, this team is winning, and by the time week 11 rolls around, have probably already NFC South champions, without ever looking special. The Saints are winning football games, and the Bucs aren’t so this will be another tough game. At home in a division rivalry, form takes a back seat, so a surprise isn’t without precedent.
Verdict – The Bucs somehow come out of this with their first back to back wins and take a HUGE W.
At Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons are a hot mess right now. Surprisingly nobody outside of the NFC South saw this coming, but it is what it is. Expect this game to see ridiculous stats from both offences as neither team can stop the pass, and both offenses are pass-heavy. The possible banana skin here is if the Bucs can keep pace against Atlanta and as we saw against New Orleans. Form means nothing.
Verdict – a win by the skin of their teeth is all it takes to put the Buccaneers over .500
At Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags are moving the ball well, one problem is they aren’t stopping teams from moving the ball. This is a game where the Buccaneers might struggle and once again convince fans that the team is terrible. Whoever makes the least mistakes takes the spoils in week 13.
Verdict – We knew the ride wouldn’t last forever as the Bucs can’t get out of their own way and leave Jacksonville with the L.
Indianapolis Colts – Tampa Bay is back to .500, and this is worse than the last time the Bucs were there. Jacoby Brissett is showing he’s an effective QB and the Colts are finding ways to win. A good defense and a slow methodical offense could cause huge issues for this Buccaneers team and plan A must be executed to perfection.
Verdict – A frustrating loss for the Bucs due to death by 1000 cuts and the Colts keeping a stranglehold on Tampa Bay.
At Detroit Lions – The Lions are a lot better than their record suggests and can compete with any team in the league. Just like the Buccaneers, they cannot get out of their own way. Before the season, both teams were hopeful that these games would have playoff implications. Now in week 15, both teams are playing for pride.
Verdict – Inside the dome in December doesn’t put the Buccaneers at a temperature disadvantage and the Bucs head back to .500
Houston Texans – The Texans are in the thick of the AFC South playoff hunt and will be a clinical opponent for Tampa Bay. For the Buccaneers to win this game, they have to be at their best and hope that Houston is having an off day.
Verdict – Houston doesn’t have that off day, and the Buccaneers move back to a losing record.
Atlanta Falcons – The Buccaneers round out the season at home against the division rival Atlanta Falcons. By this point in the season, neither team has anything to play for, but bragging rights.
Verdict – Those bragging rights head to the Buccaneers as the Falcon dumpster fire is still in full flame.
In summary, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finish without a losing record for the first time in a while. Whilst some fans won’t be happy to see a .500 season it is a massive improvement on last season and how the team started this season.
For the Bucs to have a winning record, they will need to pull off some big upsets.