FAB 3. Bucs’ 2018 Game-By-Game Predictions

You’ve probably read my prediction for the 2018 Buccaneers in this week’s PR Roundtable. I forecasted an 8-8 finish for Tampa Bay, but if you haven’t read the article yet, you can to find out what other Pewter Reporters Mark Cook, Trevor Sikkema and Andrew Scavelli predict. Here’s what I came up with on a game-by-game basis for the Bucs to arrive at my 8-8 prediction.

Saints QB Drew Brees - Photo by: Getty Images
Saints QB Drew Brees – Photo by: Getty Images

Week 1: Tampa Bay at New Orleans
I know that Las Vegas has the Bucs at 10-point underdogs in their season opener on the road at New Orleans. This game is a complete toss-up for me as conventional wisdom tells me the Saints could very well romp the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Bucs in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but my gut tells me that Tampa Bay has something in store for Drew Brees and Co. I just feel like the Bucs have more to prove and that the Saints will overlook them even though they shouldn’t after a less-talented Tampa Bay team beat them in last year’s season finale. A Chandler Catanzaro game-winning field goal gets the season started off right for the red-and-pewter-clad pirates.
Bucs Win – Tampa Bay’s Record: 1-0

Week 2: Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia
If you haven’t thought I was crazy yet for picking the Bucs to upset the Saints in Week 1 on the road, you’ll probably believe it after I tell you Tampa Bay will start the season 2-0 after beating the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles in Tampa Bay’s home opener. Will Nick Foles be at quarterback or will Carson Wentz be cleared to play in this game? It doesn’t matter. The Bucs, who are riding high after a 1-0 start, have momentum and overtake a depleted Eagles team that might be having a Super Bowl hangover. Not having Alshon Jeffery helps the Tampa Bay defense hold Philadelphia under 24 points in the win.
Bucs Win – Tampa Bay’s Record: 2-0

Week 3: Tampa Bay vs. Pittsburgh
Are the 2-0 Bucs this year’s surprise team? That will be the storyline heading into this big Monday Night Football game match-up against a veteran Steelers team. Expect a shootout as Pittsburgh’s offense will be hard to handle, but its defense has holes in the secondary and can be exploited. Tampa Bay believes the hype and comes out overconfident, only to fall short in a high-scoring affair as Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have their way with the Bucs secondary.
Bucs Lose – Tampa Bay’s Record: 2-1

Bucs safety Chris Conte – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs safety Chris Conte – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Week 4: Tampa Bay at Chicago
The Bucs have easily handled the Bears in their last two meetings at Tampa Bay, winning by a combined score of 65-17. But this game is in Chicago and the Bears defense has been significantly upgraded with the addition of Pro Bowl outside linebacker Khalil Mack and inside linebacker Roquan Smith, the team’s first-round pick. The Bucs plan on inserting Jameis Winston back into the starting lineup on a short week following their Monday Night Football loss, and an aggressive Bears defense will be waiting. Winston shakes off the rust, but not in time as Tampa Bay loses a close one in the Windy City to head into the bye week 2-2.
Bucs Lose – Tampa Bay’s Record: 2-2

Week 5: BYE WEEK

Week 6: Tampa Bay at Atlanta
A promising 2-0 start quickly turns into a three-game losing skid with a disappointing loss at Atlanta. The Falcons may be the best team in the division and use home-field advantage to dispatch the Buccaneers by 10 points, as Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman are hard to contain. For the first time all year Tampa Bay’s offense sputters as the Bucs fall below .500.
Bucs Lose – Tampa Bay’s Record: 2-3

Week 7: Tampa Bay vs. Cleveland
Tampa Bay needs a bounce-back win to stop its losing streak and Cleveland is the perfect tonic. This year’s Browns team is not the one that went 0-16 last year. This is a more talented team capable of winning on any given Sunday as long as wide receivers Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry are playing on offense and defensive end Myles Garrett and linebacker Christian Kirskey are playing on defense. This game is far from an easy victory, but the Bucs pull away in the fourth quarter to get back to their winning ways.
Bucs Win – Tampa Bay’s Record: 3-3

Week 8: Tampa Bay at Cincinnati
Some believe the Bengals could contend for the AFC North crown, but I don’t see it. I think they are the third-best team in the division behind Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The Bucs catch fire in Cincy and have their most resounding win of the season as the team plays well in all three phases of the game. Stringing together back-to-back wins is important to get over .500, but in order to make the playoffs Tampa Bay needs to go on a winning streak.
Bucs Win – Tampa Bay’s Record: 4-3

Bucs RB Peyton Barber - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs RB Peyton Barber – Photo by: Getty Images

Week 9: Tampa Bay at Carolina
While New Orleans and Atlanta are the top two teams in the NFC South, Carolina will struggle to be a .500 team this year due to its less than stellar offense. Yet Tampa Bay struggles in Carolina where it has won just once in the past five years since 2012. Seven of the last 12 meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less, with Tampa Bay winning four of those close games by a combined 16 points. Expect a close game, and a Carolina win – much to the Bucs’ chagrin.
Bucs Lose – Tampa Bay’s Record: 4-4

Week 10: Tampa Bay vs. Washington
The Bucs get back on track at home against the Redskins, who may be one of the worst teams in the league this year. Tampa Bay gets a resounding win that builds confidence as the team is once again over .500. Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans has a big day against the Redskins’ questionable secondary that Winston exploits all day.
Bucs Win – Tampa Bay’s Record: 5-4

Week 11: Tampa Bay at New York Giants
The one thing the Bucs have failed to do all season is get on a winning streak. Tampa Bay will win two games in a row, and then suffer an untimely loss. This unfortunate theme happens here again – this time in New York as the Bucs have a hard time containing wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. The Giants lost on a last-second field goal in Tampa Bay last year, but return the favor this season.
Bucs Lose – Tampa Bay’s Record: 5-5

Week 12: Tampa Bay vs. San Francisco
Jimmy Garoppolo’s hot finish to last year has the 49ers as the hip pick to surprise and make some noise this year. But the torn ACL suffered by prized free agent running back Jerick McKinnon will hurt San Francisco’s offense. The 49ers aren’t as bad as they were before Garoppolo’s arrival, but they shouldn’t pose a threat to the more talented Buccaneers, who once again get over the .500 mark with a victory.
Bucs Win – Tampa Bay’s Record: 6-5

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Week 13: Tampa Bay vs. Carolina
The Bucs get some pay back against the Panthers in another close game. Not only does Tampa Bay get a key win to move to 7-5 on the year and maintain playoff positioning, the Bucs are now 2-2 in the NFC South division, which is key for the postseason. Little does Tampa Bay know it will be the last victory it will taste in nearly a month.
Bucs Win – Tampa Bay’s Record: 7-5

Week 14: Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans
The Bucs have a chance to get to eight wins and avoid a losing season with a home win against the Saints, but New Orleans has revenge on its mind after suffering an upset at home in Week 1. Drew Brees is on fire and he’s hard to stop when he’s on a roll as Tampa Bay’s defense has an off day and the offense can’t keep up on the scoreboard. Once again, the Bucs fail to win three games in a row.
Bucs Lose – Tampa Bay’s Record: 7-6

Week 15: Tampa Bay at Baltimore
Baltimore looks primed to have a good year after going undefeated in the preseason. Joe Flacco played better with competition from Lamar Jackson, the Ravens’ first-round pick, and running back Alex Collins is a fast, physical runner. The weather will be cold and potentially snowy up in Baltimore, and that gives the Ravens the advantage in this contest as the Bucs plummet back to .500 in frustrating fashion.
Bucs Lose – Tampa Bay’s Record: 7-7

Bucs LT Donovan Smith - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Week 16: Tampa Bay at Dallas
Two years in 2016, the Bucs’ playoff hopes died in Dallas on a nationally televised game that was flexed for Sunday Night Football late in December. That year Tampa Bay finished 9-7 and just missed the postseason by one game. Unfortunately for the Bucs, history is going to repeat itself. Same place, same time, same outcome as Tampa Bay loses a close one in Big D. Not only will the Bucs not make the playoffs, they won’t finish with a winning record, which could put Dirk Koetter’s job in jeopardy.
Bucs Lose – Tampa Bay’s Record: 7-8.

Week 17: Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta
The Bucs finally go streaking this season, but it’s the wrong kind of streak – a three-game losing streak. The pressure is on to save Koetter’s job, as four straight losses would certainly put him in peril. For the Bucs, it’s a disappointing end to the season as the team was 7-5 just a month ago. Tampa Bay plays for Koetter and plays for pride and ends up back at .500 with an 8-8 record.
Bucs Win – Tampa Bay’s Record: 8-8

The Bucs’ 8-8 record is a three-game improvement from last year’s 5-11 record. Will that be enough to prevent a regime change in Tampa Bay? That’s up to the Glazers.

1
2
3
4
5
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
Subscribe
Notify of
39 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

8-8 is purgatory and would hopefully get Koetter and everyone else canned.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
tpeluso

8-8 with our schedule and Jameis being suspended would be exceeding reasonable expectations and would keep everyone around for sure.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
MichaelMyersIsABucsFan

8-8 would be a let down. The talent around the QB is 11-5ish.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
surferdudes

Scott did you write your Fab 5 before watching last nights game? It looked to me like Ryan lost some zip on his arm. I was impressed with Philly’s D, but both offenses looked lost at times. Talk about red zone struggles, what’s up with that Atlanta? Although I still think our record might be 7-9, or 8-8, last nights game tells me that those two supposed power house teams are very beatable. It also shows that any given Sunday, right?

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
jiggyjoe

I watched the game last night and I saw two less than average teams slug it out. If we can score points we could beat both of those teams. I mean like 30 or more points.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
nitey

Scott, 5 pro bowl Bucs this year? Sorry, I’m not seeing it. Three tops if we are lucky and do make that 8-8 record you predicted. You might get 5 if we get to 10 or 11 wins, but I don’t see that in the cards. McCoy, Evans and maybe David this year. Kwon might make it as an alternate. That’s my take anyway.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
XpfcWintergreen2

Here are my thoughts as simply another fan. The window is closing on Drew Brees’ career. The time is now if he is going to have a chance to get one more Super Bowl ring. The Saints should be on a mission this year. The Saints will come out on top in the NFC South division. In order for us to get to 10-7 and into the playoffs we will have to have gone 4-2 within our division. There is is an outside chance we could split with the Saints and sweep either the Panthers or the Falcons. I am… Read more »

DonkeyHunter

“I WISH GRUDEN THE ABSOLUTE BEST IN OAKLAND AND LAS VEGAS, BUT THE BUCS ARE BETTER OFF WITHOUT HIM. AS TAMPA BAY’S 2018 SEASON BEGINS, IT’S UP TO KOETTER TO PROVE ME – AND ULTIMATELY THE GLAZERS – RIGHT.”

GTFO with that nonsense.

Prove you right? You were leading the “Fire Koetter” campaign all off-season, while wearing your “I Love Chucky” boxers and fawning over Gruden’s supposed offensive greatness.

Go and enjoy the circus in Oakland and don’t forget your clown shoes.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Jlog

There is a real good chance that the Raiders have a better season than the Buc’s. As for personnel choice our future will be sealed when the Buc’s offer Winston a long term deal at the going QB rate, it’s just too high of percentage of the cap.

I don’t see us winning more than 5 games. Reality starts in just over 48 hours.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
athans5

Scott, I really need an explanation on something. So I read the part where you said that the Bucs see Vea as a three technique. To me he is the perfect size to be a nose tackle next to McCoy, but that’s just my opinion. If the Bucs feel differently that’s fine by me, that’s not my point. My point is this, if they see him as a three technique, did we really select a back up player on a team that desperately needs a playmakinf safety like Derwin James, who would be a Day 1 starter and leader in… Read more »

EastEndBoy

Thanks Scott. Overall, this really highlights the whole Licht problem for me. Vea and RoJo are nonexistent in your analysis of our potential success. Our best rookie is the 4th guy he selected? Our first pick (a top-12 gimme) was intentionally selected to be a back-up? That’s a horrible draft strategy. Your article really starts and ends at a similar point for me…Gruden should leave [all] personnel moves to somebody that has a better idea, and Licht should leave [at least the draft] to someone else as well. I will continue to give him credit (as I note you did… Read more »

Ringer

I remember all the fuss about the old guys Chucky brought in and that’s understandable. But at the same time we were relevant as we had our share of winning. Weren’t we a bit hamstrung too as we had to give up draft picks to get him here putting us in a position to have to rely on free agency? All im saying is that Gruden won at Oakland before he came to Tampa, won here with more regularity than we have been for the last 9 years before the mob fans got impatient and ran him off after the… Read more »

Naplesfan

Licht IS the bullet, and the Bucs didn’t dodge him. At least the Baby Glazers showed a glimmer of common sense by extending Licht only one season, limiting the dead money on his contract when they face reality and can him at the end of this season, along with Koetter and his coaching crew. As for Gruden, it is a little early to be crowing about dodged bullets. Gruden’s record as both a head coach and a talent evaluator is vastly better than the Licht/Koetter combo has produced over the last 5 years. We’ll count’em up come January, and compare… Read more »

Horse

Let the season begin! I’ve said enough for awhile. I hope we win them all. Go Bucs!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
tpeluso

I’m really curious what the financial situation in Oakland is like right now. Remember, they had to take out a $650 million loan to finance the Vegas stadium after Adelson backed out. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least that the only reason they traded Mack was because they couldn’t afford to pay him at this specific moment in time (and that changes once the PSL money starts coming in).

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
wnb0395

You do realize the Raiders make around 350 mil a year in revenue. The Salary cap is only 177,000,000.00 for players. Even after all other expenses are paid they still clear 90,000,000.00 plus a year. To say they didn’t have the money is crazy. they just didn’t want to invest that much into 1 player. Mack is making 24 mil. roughly 1/7 of the cap. That is a lot to invest in 1 player not a QB.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
tpeluso

You’re forgetting that the $650 million loan they took out is in *addition* to $500 million they had already pledged to pay towards the stadium absent of any other loans, in a three-year period beginning last fall. So that’s roughly $170 million per year going towards the stadium right now (and probably more in the first year or two, AKA right now, given that construction materials are routinely ordered well in advance) on top of player’s salaries and other normal operating expenses, and there still have been no PSLs sold for general seating to help cover things. It is NOT… Read more »

tpeluso

(And yes, some of that $500 million came from the NFL, but it’s still easy to see a scenario where most if not all of the Raiders’ usual profit is going straight into the stadium.)

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
wnb0395

If that was the case they would be more than 13 mil under the cap and wouldn’t be able to afford to pay Gruden 10 mil a year. Obviously they aren’t worried about money when they have given out one of the largest contracts ever to a coach.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
matador

As usual I disagree with Scott. Comparing the roster Licht has concocted over five years versus the one Gruden has at the beginning of his first year is a joke. At least he didn’t blow up the OL in year one the way Licht did, a gigantic mistake he has never rectified and which continues to haunt the Bucs today. What did Gruden do? He focused on building up the lines with ALL FOUR of their first draft picks, including a LT in the first round. Many second-guessed the move but it’s already looking smart since Penn, the LT Licht… Read more »

Devasher

You know what’s going to get Licht fired, Scott? Results. And no amount of puff pieces you write or drum that you bang will be able to drown that out when it comes to a fan base that will be at best indifferent to another middling-or-worse season. Scott, I can’t tell if you’re aware of just how brainwashed you appear to be about the GM, but you like to cite the Derek Deese, Todd Steussie and Charlie Garner triumverate of free agent doom. So let’s go down memory lane Scott and see what those contracts were actually for in 2004:… Read more »

76Buc

You’re forgetting the time value of money.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Devasher

I included the salary cap room and %. You could go with inflation rate but contracts aren’t as proportional to inflation but rather the cap. Allen’s triumverate that so bothers Scott totalled 11.4% of the cap. Licht’s players in 2014 comprised 27.2%. A significantly larger % of the cap for a team with one of the worst records in Bucs history. Even considering the cap in 2004 was 61% the size of the one in 2014, would you say that any of the 3.3 million dollar per annum deals that Scott cites in 04 is 60% of the behemoth contract… Read more »

fredster

Love Gruden but it’s true imo he’s terrible at building teams.

As far asPewterReport back tracking they were pretty clear on not taking Gruden when they learned price tag was 100 million and 10 years….

I’m on the fence with Licht. I agree with them extending 1 year and see what happens. To many big blunders that cost so many games with Agiayo etc.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
fredster

Aguayo

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
seat26

9-7 Bucs miss playoffs, but Defense improves immensely. 38 sacks, 19 interceptions. Barber gets 900 yds, Winston misses 4000 yds by a hair. Evans has a record year, Godwin gets a 1000 yds.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
XpfcWintergreen2

I wouldn’t make too much of the Bucs’ depth chart at this point. First, I think it is in keeping with the philosophy Buckner has emphasized. A player should be a defensive lineman first, then maybe focus on a role. Second, I think the original plan was to have Vea cross trained so that he can possibly step in to replace Gmac whenever he departs the scene down the road. (That would be if they don’t succeed in finding a better replacement by then, somehow.) I would not be surprised to see him assume the starting place on Gmac’s right… Read more »

Naplesfan

Gruden was so bad at building teams that he only managed to build two that played each other in the Super Bowl … and produced more division championships and winning teams than any other coach/GM team in the history of the franchise.

I mean, with a record like that, how could it possibly get worse?

The Bucs know the answer to that question, and we the fans have been living it for the last decade.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
XpfcWintergreen2

As for not drafting Derwin James instead of Vita Vea.

Smith had some high praise for 2nd year free safety, Justin Evans, this week. Sounds like our organization has great expectations regarding him. (I, for one, was basically clueless on this going into the draft this year. I only had the idea that he might become our starter.)
__________________
Go Bucs!!!! No Excuses!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
buddah

Always a lot to argue about on this site. Enjoy life. Remember, the secret to sanity is to exaggerate the goodness of the world. So much anger and hostility in this digital age. Life is short. Make sure you take the time to smell the roses and spread some love. I do get the impression that quite a few of you would be disappointed if the Buccaneers beat the Saints. By the way, Matt Ryan showed last year that his skills were diminishing. He’s not the quarterback he was two or three years ago. The Falcons have a decent roster… Read more »

76Buc

buddah, those are wise words, but this site has haters and haters love to hate.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Devasher

Interesting, the definition of sanity is: “the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner” But buddahs secret to sanity is to exaggerate goodness? That doesn’t sound to rational to me. Maybe you mean secret to happiness? If someone has cancer and they exaggerate how good they are feeling and fail to go to the doctor is that really the outcome you want? If you have a car that breaks down every month should you exaggerate how well the car is running and keep pumping money into fixing it? I agree that we should accept what we… Read more »

martinii

Good job Scott, Just a few comments. Loved Chucky when he took us to the SB, but I think the Game has changed and I feel like he may have a difficult time adjusting. Hope I’m wrong. Agree that ME and DJ will be standouts but think Chris Goodwin will steal the show this year. Worried about ruining game and one man does not make a team. Kalilh Mack needs to prove himself in the Bears D. We are talking NFC now.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Mr. Incredible

Scott, what happened to your “Not won’t get fooled again.” mentality? Seems like you’re drinking allot of coo-laid all of a sudden. Challenging for playoffs? Playoffs? I just hope they win one of their first 4 games.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
drdneast

So many crazy and inaccurate statements made out here today it makes the head swim. Matt Ryan’s arm isn’t going soft, but I bet his body is pretty beat up after the beating he took last night. He was vertical almost as much as he was horizontal during that game. Which confirms what I have been saying adnauseum out here for the last five years. Constant pressure on the QB is the only way to beat guys like Brees, Brady, Ryan and Rogers. They will slice and dice you up if you let them get to comfortable in the pocket.… Read more »

Devasher

Lovie Smith had control over the final 53. Meaning that on cut down day Lovie could keep the players he wanted over what the GM would want (ie a coach is more likely to care about a contributing player than a draft pick the GM tied his name to that isnt). This clause in Lovie’s contract was bastardized by fans into the belief that Lovie was running personnel. If your premise was true why did Licht go from being one of the top contenders for the the Dolphins GM gig so he could take a job watching Lovie make roster… Read more »

fredster

Naples, Gruden built the Bucs 2002 Super Bowl team? Pretty sure he didn’t build that team or defense in 1 year. Lol. He was a very good offensive mind that took a Super Bowl caliber defense and made offense good enough to get over the hump and win that super bowl. Not like they weren’t close already they went to nfc championship game 1999.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
MrFootball

If you remember Gruden had a LARGE part in getting both Superbowl teams to the finish line. That is a huge accomplishment. Dungy could not build an offense, proven by his colts tenure he just used what was there. Does that mean that was not Dungys team? No, just like the Bucs were Grudens team. Tampa would be better today with Gruden on our sidelines. And the press conferences would be much more entertaining.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
inspecto

” And the press conferences would be much more entertaining.”

fo sure

Go Bucs !!! Beat Philly

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...