FAB 2. Bucs Poised For Playoff Berth In 2020?

The Buccaneers’ 2020 season is a week away and it’s time for me to make my annual game-by-game predictions for Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay. I usually wait until the end of the preseason to make these predictions, but there wasn’t a preseason due to COVID-19, so let’s get right to it now that training camp has concluded.

After years of underachieving, do the Bucs finally break through and end their 12-year playoff drought? Let’s go week-by-week to find out.

Week 1 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints – LOSS

Tom Brady and Drew Brees

Tom Brady and Drew Brees – Photo by: Getty Images

Can the Bucs travel to the Big Easy and get a win in Week 1? Absolutely, especially since the Superdome will be empty – except for the piped-in crowd noise. The Bucs upset the Saints in the 2018 season opener thanks to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 400-yard passing game. But the Saints are 13-3 over the past two seasons and are the two-time defending NFC South champions for a reason, and it’s more than just Drew Brees. The Saints are a well-rounded team that has been together for years. It will be a tough challenge for a Tampa Bay team with a new quarterback in Brady, and a new right tackle in Tristan Wirfs, who will have his hands full with Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan, who is coming off a 15.5-sack season. The Bucs lose by a field goal to start the 2020 season.
Bucs Record: 0-1

Week 2 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers – WIN

The Bucs bounce back the following week in their home opener against a brand new Panthers squad that is in rebuilding mode. Teddy Bridgewater and Christian McCaffery make Carolina dangerous, but a young and inexperienced Panthers defense is no match for Brady and his weapons. The Bucs light up the scoreboard and run roughshod over the Panthers for their first win of the season. It’s going to be a long first season for Matt Rhule in Carolina.
Bucs’ Record: 1-1

Week 3 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos – WIN

Tampa Bay travels to the Mile High City to take on Drew Lock and a Denver team that is in transition. The Broncos started the season 3-8, but finished 7-9 last year, winning four out of the last five games, including an impressive win at Houston. Lock got better as the year went on, and the defense should have Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, who was lost to a torn ACL last year, back at full strength. Brady and Rob Gronkowski have experience playing in the altitude in Denver, which should help, and this will be a homecoming for former Bronco pass rusher, Shaquil Barrett, who should tee off on Lock. Look for the Bucs to start a winning streak with back-to-back wins.
Bucs’ Record: 2-1

Week 4 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Chargers – WIN

The Chargers defense will test the Bucs at home, especially L.A.’s dangerous front seven. Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette will have a rough day running the ball, and edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will get to Brady more than Tampa Bay would like. Tight ends Gronkowski, O.J. Howard and Cam Brate come through big for Brady, and linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White corral Austin Ekeler in a low-scoring victory.
Bucs’ Record: 3-1

Week 5 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears – LOSS

Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Tampa Bays starts the first of five prime time games on the road in Chicago on Thursday Night Football with a loss. Chicago’s defensive front, which consists of Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn beats the Bucs’ offensive line to get to Brady, while Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith shut down the ground game. Points are hard to come by in this defensive struggle. The Bucs lose the turnover possession and Nick Foles upsets Brady once again.
Bucs’ Record: 3-2

Week 6 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Green Bay Packers – LOSS

In one of the most eagerly awaited games of the year, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers square off against Brady and the Bucs. In a battle with two all-time greats under center with very good weaponry on offense and two very good defenses, this is a marquee match-up. It’s surprising it’s not in prime time, but it will be the Fox matinee game of the week, and Bucs fans across the country won’t like the outcome. People forget that the Packers were 13-3 last year, losing to San Francisco, 37-23, in the playoffs. Green Bay is more battle-tested and it shows in a close shootout win for the Packers in Tampa Bay.
Bucs’ Record: 3-3

Week 7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Las Vegas Raiders – WIN

The Bucs bounce back in prime time in Las Vegas with a victory over former Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden on Sunday Night Football. Everything clicks for the Bucs, who beat the Raiders in every facet of the game. Tampa Bay’s defense is turned loose against Derek Carr and both Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul get to him multiple times. The Bucs’ secondary puts the clamps on the Raiders’ young receiving corps in a blowout win in Sin City to avoid a losing record.
Bucs’ Record: 4-3

Week 8 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants – WIN

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Tampa Bay finds success once again in prime time, this time in New York over the Giants on Monday Night Football. Although Saquon Barkley isn’t completely shut down like he was a year ago in Tampa Bay when the teams met last year, he doesn’t run wild against the stingy Bucs run defense, and there are no second-half heroics for Daniel Jones this time around, either. Barrett and Pierre-Paul take advantage of rookie tackles Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart to tee off on Jones multiple times in a big win.
Bucs’ Record: 5-3

Week 9 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints – LOSS

The eagerly awaited rematch between the Bucs and the Saints happens on Sunday Night Football in Tampa Bay, but the Pewter Pirates can’t make it three wins in a row in prime time. The NFC South title is on the line and New Orleans isn’t quite ready to surrender it. The Bucs and the Saints light up the scoreboard as the defenses struggle, but Tampa Bay’s kicking game falters and allows New Orleans to edge the Bucs and retain NFC South supremacy.
Bucs’ Record: 5-4

Week 10 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers – WIN

For the second time this year, Carolina is the perfect tonic following a tough Tampa Bay loss to New Orleans. The Bucs have far more talent than the Panthers and that continues to show in the rematch in Carolina. The Bucs’ running game gets rolling and Jones has a career day in a victory that evens up Tampa Bay’s record in the division at 2-2. The Bucs are just one more win away from tying last year’s seven-win mark with six games to play.
Bucs’ Record: 6-4

Week 11 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams – WIN

Bucs WR Mike Evans

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Getty Images

Tampa Bay finishes up its prime time schedule with a rematch of last year’s shootout against the Rams out in Los Angeles. The Bucs won in grand fashion, 55-40, and although both teams don’t combine for 95 points this season like they did a year ago, Tampa Bay scores in the 40s and wins by 10 points. Both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have 100-yard days as Brady tops 400 yards for the first time this season in Tampa Bay’s seventh win of the year.
Bucs’ Record: 7-4

Week 12 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Kansas City Chiefs – LOSS

Although it’s not in prime time, the Bucs vs. Chiefs game is the late game on Sunday afternoon and the nation will be watching as Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champions take on Brady and Co. Another shootout is expected and that’s what both high-powered offenses deliver in Tampa Bay with K.C. prevailing due to a late touchdown pass and some fourth quarter heroics from Mahomes. The Bucs are weary after 12 straight weeks of football and the bye week comes at the right time, as Tampa Bay needs a strong December for a playoff push.
Bucs’ Record: 7-5

Week 13 – BYE WEEK

Week 14 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings – LOSS

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Coming out of a bye week with a loss is never ideal, but the Vikings are just a really good, complete team, and score an upset at Raymond James Stadium. Edge rushers Yannick Ngakoue and Danielle Hunter give Wirfs, Brady and left tackle Donovan Smith fits all day, while running back Dalvin Cook has a surprisingly good day running the ball against Tampa Bay’s front. It’s just not the Bucs’ day at the office and the loss puts the team in crisis mode when it comes to potentially making the playoffs.
Bucs’ Record: 7-6

Week 15 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons – WIN

The Bucs get a much-needed victory at Atlanta against a mediocre Falcons team, but it’s a nail-biter with a last-second field goal giving Tampa Bay the winning edge. The Bucs are up 3-2 in the NFC South thanks to a monster game from Brady, Gronkowksi, Evans and Godwin, who takes advantage of the Falcons’ weak secondary. With eight wins on the year, the Bucs show improvement in Brady’s first year in Tampa Bay, and the team is guaranteed to finish no worse than 8-8.
Bucs’ Record: 8-6

Week 16 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions – WIN

A return trip to Detroit in late December has a familiar outcome: a win for Tampa Bay. This time it’s Matthew Stafford versus Brady, and the six-time Super Bowl champion prevails, as Evans, Godwin and Scotty Miller light up the Lions’ secondary, while Fournette runs wild. Detroit is no match for Tampa Bay, and this blowout Bucs victory is exactly what the team needed to continue its playoff push. Tampa Bay gets to nine wins to ensure itself of a winning record in 2020.
Bucs’ Record: 9-6

Week 17 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons – WIN

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

It’s the season finale and a playoff spot is on the line in Tampa Bay. The Bucs need a win to secure a Wild Card playoff spot, especially with losses to NFC playoff contenders Green Bay and Minnesota earlier in the season. Whereas the earlier match-up with the Falcons was a close call, the Bucs take control from the start as Brady plays a near flawless game to allow Tampa Bay to cruise to victory and a 4-2 record in the NFC South with a sweep of Atlanta. A 10-6 record is enough to get the Bucs in the playoffs as a Wild Card team with the NFL expanding the number of playoff teams this year to 14 – seven in each conference. Mission accomplished for B.A., Brady and the Bucs.
Bucs’ Record: 10-6

What do you think, Pewter Nation? Is my 10-6 prediction for the Bucs off the mark or on target? Which games do you have Tampa Bay winning and losing? Let me know what you think in the article comments below.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

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
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Chimp
9 months ago

I see us 10-6 at worst if every one stays healthy

Last edited 9 months ago by Chimp
Pete Wood
9 months ago

Bucs go 12-4 with one win against Saints and one upset. 10-6 is a worst case scenario. They get a wildcard and win their first round game. Then, who knows?

BigSombrero
9 months ago

Agree that Fournette should be a huge asset in the run game and help open up the pass game in a way RoJo/Shady/Vaughn never would’ve been able to.

10-6? Okay, so SR is superstitious and doesn’t want to jinx it. Losing to the Bears though? Matter of fact, SR has the Bucs losing to every 2019 playoff team-KC, NOx2, GB, and Minn.

10-6 isn’t an awful guess, nor is it the floor. Bucs could lose to Denver, Detroit, Atlanta, and even *gasp* Carolina.

liquidmuse3
Reply to  BigSombrero
9 months ago

Yeah…Montgomery vs our defense? Foles failing out of Jacksonville winning over Brady?

BigSombrero
Reply to  liquidmuse3
9 months ago

Probably based on recent Madden 2020 full season prediction. Bears supposedly SB Champs. Lol

Dave
Reply to  liquidmuse3
9 months ago

I guess Scott missed that Trubisky was named the starter. So if he’s the QB week 5, that’s a win. I think we split with NO. They’re not unbeatable. I think at WORST, we split with GB and Min. The Packers were a fraud 13-3 last year. That offense isn’t capable of winning a shootout right now. The Vikings can be beat if our run defense is as good as last years, because Kubiak lost Diggs, and wants to run the ball 40+ times per game. I think we split with Atlanta, and I think we lose @Denver. Brady has… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by Dave
PewterPose
9 months ago

I think we split with the Saints and finish with the first wildcard.

Totally agree that Fournette’s efficiency will increase as part of this offense. Virtually no starter in the Jags WR or TE room would have been an upgrade on any other team last year. Fournette was asked to do everything and opposing defenses stacked the box.

Totally disagree that Fournette is a good pass blocker. Those clips Jon posted yesterday(?) were atrocious to watch. I see a big strong back who is throwing himself around like an epileptic toddler.

BucRy
9 months ago

I think we split with the saints..even though the saints are apparently going after Jadeveon Clowney.

SenileSenior
9 months ago

Fab 1:   “But expect the 25-year old LSU product to also compete head-to-head with Jones fairly soon and either push him towards greatness or push him to the bench this year.” This is why I am anxious to see how RoJo plays this year. I am pulling for him to succeed. Fab 2: You predict a 10-6 season. Your knowledge and insight is greater than mine.  However, should we knock off New Orleans in that second game and then surprise Kansas City we could be 12-4. The difference would be that we would go into the play off run with a great deal of confidence that we can actually… Read more »

Horse
9 months ago

I believe we will go 11-5 now that we have “The Fort”. I will be surprised if “The Fort” doesn’t become our #1 RB within 4 games. We are a solid team! For the first time since our last Super Bowl, I believe we could make it back. Go Bucs!

jb™
9 months ago

Losses to the Bears, and nearly every other team that made playoffs last season?
This 10–6 prediction looks like a one done playoff season. With THIS team? TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!

chefboho
9 months ago

Im rolling with an optimistic 12-4 record. I don’t see how they lose to the bears. This team is way more talented. Plus I see them splitting with the Saints once they get the second go around and are more comfortable on both sides of the ball.

Naplesfan
Reply to  chefboho
9 months ago

Yup. 12-4 seems about right for this team, with at least a split with the Saints. No way TB -12 and this team loses to a Trubiskey-led Bears team.

DT25
9 months ago

Man, the disrespect for RoJo is real in the Bucs media. I do expect a pretty even split before too long. Mainly because Bruce seems to want that, given how he used Barber and RoJo last year. Still don’t think this changes a thing for Jones, just like Arians said. We drafted Vaughn to be that second guy and he wasn’t ready. Now we have Fournette to do it. Neither will be running away with the job, nor will either be “pushed to the bench.” We now have depth and legitimate options to keep everyone fresh, which is a damn… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by DT25
Dude
9 months ago

I see the Bucs splitting with New Orleans, winning the Green Bay and Minnesota games at home, adjusting Scott’s record to 13-3. The Bucs will learn how to win at home this year.

liquidmuse3
9 months ago

How are Green Bay more battle-tested. LaFleur over Arians? Rodgers over Brady? Clark over Suh? The Smiths over Lavonte and JPP? Any of their wideouts or tight ends over ours?

liquidmuse3
9 months ago

Did Scott just say Kirk Cousins is beating Tom Brady and our defense.

gcolerick
9 months ago

This community has been so let down and disappointed over the last 15 years that I don’t think you can blame any of the fans for having a glass half empty mind set when predicting wins/losses for the upcoming season and that certainly appears to be the case with Scott’s prediction. I’m hoping/thinking 11/ 5 is a realistic number ensuring us a trip to the playoffs. Last time we were 10/6, we did not get in and I don’t want to see a replay of that scenario. I am expecting more losses during the first half of the season with… Read more »

SufferingSince76
9 months ago

Agree with Chefboho. No way we lose to Chicago or both games to the Saints. 12-4 should be about right.

BigSombrero
9 months ago

@NO Loss, CAR Win, @DEN Loss, LAC Win, @Chi Win, GB Loss, @LVR Loss, @NYG Win, NO Win, @CAR Loss, LAR Win, KC Loss, @Minn Win, Loss, Det Win, ATL Win

9-7, 7th place Wild Card. Must Win 3 road games to get to a home Superbowl.

Defeated by #2 seed Dallas Round 1.

Year 2 in a BA offense will be better for Brady.

BigSombrero
Reply to  BigSombrero
9 months ago

NFC Playoff Teams
TB, SF, SEA, GB, DAL, NO, ATL

AFC Playoff Teams
KC, BAL, PIT, IND, NE, DEN, TEN

BigSombrero
Reply to  BigSombrero
9 months ago

10 Bold Predictions:
Ryan Succup misses important kicks in weeks 1 and 2. Bucs cut him.
Shaq Barrett and JPP combine for a total of 30 sacks.
Fournette leads all Bucs skill players in all purpose yards at 1600 total.
Gronkowski finishes with 3rd best stats vs other TE in Tampa due to injury.
RoJo finishes on IR.
Evans gets 1000 yards for 7th straight season.
Godwin regresses as free agency looms 2021.
Edwards leads team in INT’s. Dean 2nd.
Wirfs better than I expected.
Fans finally allowed to watch games in person when the playoffs start.

Captain Sly
Reply to  BigSombrero
9 months ago

I love predictions but this one sure stinks….If “Succup starts missing kicks wk1” and “Chris Godwin regresses” that would be a disaster to start the season. There’s absolutely no shred of reasoning for this prediction: Nothing about Godwin’s Character, Makeup, Personality or Game suggests that this will ever happen. If there’s anything the prediction is Godwin becomes Brady’s favorite target and leads the team in yards & receptions. Gotta turn you on to a few episodes of Happy Days!

Dave
Reply to  Captain Sly
9 months ago

My playoff teams: AFC) Division: Buf, Hou, Pit, KC. WC’s: Bal, NE, and Ten NFC) Division: Dal, Min, NO, SF. WC’s: TB, Sea, Ari Bucs Bold Predictions – Brady has less combined sacks and INT’s than Jameis had sacks in 2019(47) – Rojo leads Bucs in rushing with 1050 yds – Fournette is 2nd at 800 yards, but leads RB’s in TD’s at 8. – Vaughn gets cut – McCoy leads Bucs RB’s in catches. – Winfield starts 15 games, and leads the team with 5 INT’s – OJ Howard leads TE’s in rec and receiving yards – Gronk leads… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by Dave
Captain Sly
Reply to  Dave
9 months ago

😂 “Tom Brady has less sacks & Int than Winston”. I just spit up my Coffee! How is this a bold prediction? lol 😂

Dave
Reply to  Captain Sly
9 months ago

Combined. I didn’t say less picks and less sacks. I said less INT’s and sacks than just Winston sacks. Well everyone seems to think Brady is going to get sacked a ton. It not bold as some other picks i made, but it’s bold enough

BigSombrero
Reply to  Dave
9 months ago

Brady will get lots of people the ball, but I think he will lean on Evans and Fournette the most.

RoJo could have a big season, but I think the extra weight leads to soft tissue injuries.

McCoy is a shell of his former self and he’s a fumbler.

Succop was 1/6 last year. Yips City!

Houston will be 1-6 to start the year. Toast!

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
9 months ago

Yeah I would be completely shocked if Fournette hit even 50 receptions. There’s almost zero chance he comes anywhere close to the 76 he had last year. He needed 340 touches to barely pass 1600 total yards in Jacksonville. He’ll be lucky to get half as many touches here. Rojo isn’t going anywhere. I don’t know why people think he is. He’s going to get his touches. And McCoy will be used more as a pass catcher than Fournette will. He’s a better pass catcher. Injuries definitely played a huge part in Succop. He’s been as consistent a kicker as… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by Dave
Buc on the Move
Reply to  Dave
9 months ago

How does Haeg start all 16 games when he isn’t even starting week 1?

BigSombrero
Reply to  Captain Sly
9 months ago

I love Godwin’s game! He’s one of my favorite Bucs! I initially thought he would get the lions share of passes from the slot, but after camp, it seems clear that he’s a 3rd or 4th option.

Succop went 1/6 on FGs last year, but 24/25 on extra points. Kicking is mental and you won’t know if the kicker has lost confidence until games start. BA has no allegiance to Succop or any kicker at this point.

Captain Sly
Reply to  BigSombrero
9 months ago

I actually agree with your Fournette prediction. Tom Brady will feel more comfortable with a competent RB versus a RB still trying to figure it out. NO,Atl,CAR shaking in there Boots right now!

Last edited 9 months ago by Captain Sly
cvillebucfan
9 months ago

NO way we go 10-6. You have us losing every single game we play against any sort of competent team. We will win at a minimum 1 game against NO x 2, KC, GB or MIN. I see 12-4 possibly 13-3 if we play up to expectation.

Crook
9 months ago

This prediction seems like you started with a 10-6 season and then tried to back into it.

76bucsfan46
9 months ago

11-5

David DeLeon
9 months ago

I don’t see the Bucs losing twice to the Saints. And especially losing against the Bears. That offense sucks. Last time we played Winston threw 4 int. Not going to happen.
12-4 or better

doublenickel55
9 months ago

Hard to put to much faith in him when they couldn’t get a trade for him.granted, it could be because of the size of the contract.

Naplesfan
9 months ago

So basically, Scott doesn’t think the Bucs this season can beat anybody who was good last season, and only beats the weak teams. Including two losses to the Saints.

I just don’t see that. This is in my eyes a 12 win team, and I see at least a split with the Saints if not two wins. We have by far the best offense in the league, and a defense that looked good and improving by late last season.