In a plot twist that no one could have predicted, here we are in Week 2 publishing our 2017 season predictions for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because their season has yet to begin.
But, Tampa Bay’s season will, in fact, begin at some point, and here’s how I see it playing out.
Week 1: Bye Week
Week 2: Bucs vs. Bears – Sept. 17 – 1:00pm – Fox
The Bucs’ Week 2 game against the Chicago Bears will be the first game of the 2017 season for them thanks to Hurricane Irma. In some pros and cons, the Bucs do lose their Bye Week later in the season, but, on the other hand, this gives them the chance to open up the season at home, which is always nice.
Though we now know the Bears gave the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons all they could handle in Week 1, I do think the Bucs still take care of business against the Bears, as they should. This Bucs team should have quarterback Mike Glennon’s number, and as long as they don’t let running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen do too much damage, they should be able to put up enough points.
The X-factor in this game will be Tampa Bay’s offensive line versus Chicago’s tough front seven.
BUCS WIN – TAMPA BAY IS 1-0
Week 3: Bucs at Vikings – Sept. 24 – 1:00pm – Fox
When people think of the Minnesota Vikings, they often can’t look past a pedestrian Sam Bradford as their quarterback and take them as a serious threat – but they are. The Vikings have a better offensive line, a dynamic runner in Dalvin Cook, and some nice receiving options with Sefon Diggs at the top. On the flip side, Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith are studs on a complete defense.
Even in a dome, I think the Bucs’ first trip up north will be too much for a team I’m expecting to still see gelling.
BUCS LOSE – TAMPA BAY IS 1-1
Week 4: Bucs vs. Giants – Oct. 1 – 4:05pm – Fox
By Week 4, I don’t expect offensive chemistry to be void. Because of this, I instead expect a real shoot out when two of the top five receiving corps in the NFL meet in MetLife.
This match up could go either way, but the way I look at it now, the secondary and pressure units for the Giants’ defense is more established (or, they have been for the last few years, who knows in a few week). Because of that, I’ll give them the edge. I think it will be a one-score, high scoring affair, however.
BUCS LOSE – TAMPA BAY IS 1-2
Week 5: Bucs vs. Patriots – Oct. 5 – 8:25pm – CBS/NFL Network
An added con of the Buccaneers not starting the season on the same pace as the rest of the league is that running back Doug Martin’s suspension couldn’t begin its time either. With it being delayed, Week 5 against the Pats is when Martin will run through the tunnel for the first time this season.
Martin’s return is a big one, one they will need him. The Bucs will be facing a Patriots team that we already know has been hit in the mouth and woken up from their opening week loss to Kansas City. The Bucs have every right to be in this game, and could be, but unless they’re really on a roll going into the game, the lights of primetime might be too bright for some. I don’t expect to use that as an excuse very much longer, but for this one, they’re taking on a primetime machine.
Experience is key.
BUCS LOSE – TAMPA BAY IS 1-3
Week 6: Bucs at Cardinals – Oct. 15 – 4:05pm – Fox
If my predictions are correct thus far, this hyped up, hopeful 2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team will be starring at a 1-3 record a quarter into their season.
I think that pisses them off.
So much so that I expect them to extract their revenge on the Arizona Cardinals for the beat down they gave Tampa Bay last year. Carson Palmer just isn’t the same quarterback he used to be, and that offense has taken another step back. If the Bucs can put up the points, they can win – and they will.
BUCS WIN – TAMPA BAY IS 2-3
Week 7: Bucs at Bills – Oct. 22 – 1:00pm – Fox
The Buffalo Bills are in a total rebuild this year, and though they have a dynamic quarterback and running back, as we saw in 2016, once you give it time and the defensive players really start to gel, Mike Smith’s defense can really mess with ones who are undisciplined – they even got to Drew Brees when he slipped up.
The timing of the Bills’ rebuild goes well for the Bucs to make a little win streak happen, and get their team back to .500 via the north east cold.
BUCS WIN – TAMPA BAY IS 3-3
Week 8: Bucs vs. Panthers – Oct. 29 – 1:00pm – Fox
By Week 8, I don’t think quarterback Cam Newton’s shoulder will be an issue (he had surgery on it this offseason). I do, however, think the overall output of their offense will be. I think the Panthers caught the Bucs off guard with some of their speed and space concepts last year, something defensive coordinator Mike Smith will be ready for this year.
I expect this one to be three wins in a row for the Bucs.
BUCS WIN – TAMPA BAY IS 4-3
Week 9: Bucs at Saints – Nov. 5 – 1:00pm – Fox
Though many doubt the Saints as serious contenders, call me over cautious, but I’m not going to doubt Drew Brees until he gives me a reason to.
With this game being in New Orleans, a place where the Bucs, and many other teams, have struggled to get things going, I expect one or two too many mistakes to keep up with Brees and the points he can put up. The winning streak ends and the Bucs will be back to .500.
BUCS LOSE – TAMPA BAY IS 4-4
Week 10: Bucs vs. Jets – Nov. 12 – 1:00pm – CBS
If there was an ideal “bounce back” game from a loss, it would look a lot like playing this year’s New York Jets team on your home turf, which is exactly what Tampa Bay will get the chance to do.
There are few games that the Bucs just cannot lose on their schedule this year if they hope to make the playoffs, and this is one of them. Who knows who the starting quarterback will be for New York at this point, but whoever it is, odds are they won’t be enough to overcome a now mid-season Tampa team in Ray Jay.
BUCS WIN – TAMPA BAY IS 5-4
Week 11: Bucs at Dolphins – Sept. 10 – 1:00pm – Fox
Ah, the Week 1 matchup that the fans never got to see.
This make-up game is going to all come down to the Bucs passing attack – here’s why. If Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and the rest of the passing game can capitalize on a very weak Dolphins secondary, that will likely be the best defense the team could have against Miami’s top offensive player, running back Jay Ajayi.
Ajayi is a fantastic player, but if the Dolphins are down double digits or two scores, that limits how much he can even carry the ball. The best defense, in this case, will be a good offense. I think the passing attack gets it done.
BUCS WIN – TAMPA BAY IS 6-4
Week 12: Bucs at Falcons – Nov. 26 – 1:00pm – Fox
How will the Bucs handle their first “affected” game after starting the road to playing 16 games in a row without a Bye Week? By beating Atlanta in Atlanta.
This is the first of two showdowns the Bucs will have against the Falcons over the next month. By now, there will be plenty of tape on each team, and it will come down to coaching.
Call me crazy, but mark me down for saying this is a game the Bucs win that not many saw coming.
BUCS WIN – TAMPA BAY IS 7-4
Week 13: Bucs at Packers – Dec. 3 – 1:00pm – Fox
December. Aaron Rodgers. The Frozen Tundra.
This will be a one-of-a-kind game for the Buccaneers and their fans, even if it happens to be free of snow. The problem is, betting against one of the greatest quarterback to ever play the game in his element is something I just can’t do. I think the northern change will be too much of a factor against the warm Bucs players and not enough of a factor for those who call Lambeau home.
BUCS LOSE – TAMPA BAY IS 7-5
Week 14: Bucs vs. Lions – Dec. 10 – 1:00pm – Fox
At this point in the season, if all goes as stated before, the Bucs will be 7-5 with some crucial games coming up in terms of playoff implications.
Unfortunately, that won’t be the easiest of tasks with the likes of Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Drew Brees left on the schedule. But, at some point, you can’t just have the easy way; you have to prove you’re a playoff team and get things done. In Week 14, I think this Bucs team shows that and gets a tight victory at home to move to a more comfortable 8-5.
BUCS WIN – TAMPA BAY IS 8-5
Week 15: Bucs vs. Falcons – Dec. 18 – 8:30pm – ESPN
With eight wins, the Bucs only Monday Night Football game of the season will be more important than ever.
On the national stage, I think the Falcons show their poise and spoil what could be a momentous run at the end of the schedule for the Buccaneers. With the Bucs winning their first game against the Falcons in Atlanta, it’s hard to imagine them getting the best of that Falcons roster twice. This is the back end of a back-and-forth between two very good divisional teams.
BUCS LOSE – TAMPA BAY IS 8-6
Week 16: Bucs at Panthers – Dec. 24 – 1:00pm – Fox
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the SouthNo playoffs were certain, not even winning out;The Bucs headed to Charlotte, determined in stare,In hopes that there would be victories there;The Bucs defense got hyped up, headphones on their heads;Envisioning plays that put the Panthers’ season to bed;Newton, McCaffrey struck first and strike back,But Alexander and company endured with big hits and sacks,When it was time for the offense, the points, oh they came,Head coach Dirk Koetter grabbed his mic and called them by name:“Now, Winston! now, Evans! now Brate and Jackson!On, OJ! on, Adam! on, Godwin and Martin!In an up tempo offense, they played through the whistle,When Winston let go, the ball looked like a missile.As the scoreboard went final, and the victory lit bright—The Bucs playoff wishes lived on, on Christmas Eve night.
Week 17: Bucs vs. Saints – Dec. 31 – 1:00pm – Fox
These are the facts: If the Bucs had beaten the Saints last year in New Orleans, even if they would have had the same record and lost somewhere else, they would have broken the playoff curse last year.
I think they know that.
That’s why with the playoff on the line, and one last chance to be the ones to take the spot by the horns, I have to think that if they’re worth of the postseason, they can accomplish it.
BUCS WIN – TAMPA BAY IS 10-6
Obviously we have no idea what the other records of the teams will be. But, with strength of schedule, I think that 10-6 is enough to get this Buccaneers team into the playoffs. If they can get to that record, they’ll have earned it.