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FAB 1. Bucs’ Game-By-Game Predictions
In Wednesday’s Pewter Report Roundtable, I predicted an 8-8 season for the Buccaneers. I believe Tampa Bay will show improvement this year mostly due to the new schemes and coaching staff, but that a very demanding schedule, a young secondary, and a suspect offensive line will likely hold the team back from making the playoffs in 2019.
Still, an 8-8 record would be a three-win improvement over the last two years, and a significant step forward for this very young Bucs team, which only has four players on the roster age 30 or older, including outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (30), safety Darian Stewart (31), defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (32) and right tackle Demar Dotson (33). Tampa Bay has 14 players age 23 or younger, including its first-round draft pick, inside linebacker Devin White, who is the youngest at age 21.
So how do the Bucs get to 8-8, which is a better record than most NFL legal online betting sportsbooks forecast? It begins with a strong start to the season, an understandable rough patch in the middle of the 2019 campaign as Tampa Bay goes seven weeks without another game at Raymond James Stadium, followed by a solid finish and a victory in the season finale.
Week 1: Bucs vs. 49ers – WIN
The Bucs beat the 49ers last year in Tampa Bay, 27-9, without facing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco returns to Raymond James Stadium, this time with Garoppolo and former Bucs middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, but the outcome will remain the same. Tampa Bay is the better team, and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ blitzing scheme will win the day as the Bucs offense will struggle.
Week 2: Bucs at Panthers – LOSS
If Tampa Bay can somehow manage to steal an early season road win against divisional opponent Carolina on Thursday night it could change everything for the 2019 Bucs. But that’s a tall order as Tampa Bay’s offensive line has notoriously struggled against the Panthers’ powerful front, especially in Carolina. Last year the Panthers prevailed 42-28 as their offense ran roughshod over a befuddled Bucs defense. This year, Cam Newton and Co. win a close one on national TV as Tampa Bay falls to 1-1.
Week 3: Bucs vs. Giants – WIN
The Bucs get back in the win column in what will be their last home game until November with a win over an inferior Giants team. This is the third straight year the Bucs and Giants have battled, and it’s been a field goal difference in each contest. Not this year as the Bucs offense comes alive and Tampa Bay’s defense overwhelms Eli Manning so much that rookie Daniel Jones winds up finishing the game. The Bucs need to be at least 2-1 at this stretch to avoid a losing season. Mission accomplished.
Week 4: Bucs at Rams – LOSS
The travel trouble begins in Week 4 at Los Angeles against the defending NFC champion Rams. The Bucs get trounced on both sides of the ball in an ugly loss that might remind some of last year’s Week 4 debacle in Chicago. Tampa Bay slides to 2-2 on the season before another tough road trip – this time to New Orleans.
Week 5: Bucs at Saints – LOSS
The Bucs go out of the frying pan and into the fire as they travel to face the defending NFC South champion Saints. Tampa Bay scored an opening season surprise win last year at the Superdome, but New Orleans will be ready this time. The Saints are on a mission this year to win the NFC and defeat the Bucs in the fourth quarter to maintain supremacy in the division. Tampa Bay falls below .500 for the first time this year at 2-3.
Week 6: Bucs vs. Panthers (in London) – WIN
In what is a really third straight road game for Tampa Bay, the Bucs host the Panthers in London, a place they’ve lost their two previous overseas games over the last decade. Tampa Bay’s defense gets the best of Newton and the offense comes to life to put on a show for the Brits. This much-needed victory gets the Bucs back to .500 at 3-3 before the bye week.
Week 7: Bye Week
Week 8: Bucs at Titans – WIN
Tampa Bay travels to Tennessee to take on a struggling Titans team. This game is also a chance for Jameis Winton to extract some revenge on Marcus Mariota, who outplayed him in their rookie debut in 2015, which was a huge win for the Titans that day. Winston outduels Mariota, who has a rough day courtesy of outside linebackers Shaquil Bennett, Carl Nassib and Jason Pierre-Paul, who returns from his neck injury to help the Bucs improve to 4-3.
Week 9: Bucs at Seahawks – LOSS
The Bucs’ brutal five-game road stretch comes to an end out west in Seattle where the Seahawks are tough to beat at home. It’s a forgettable day for Winston and the offense as Tampa Bay loses an early lead and the Bucs defense doesn’t have enough to stop Russell Wilson. Tampa Bay slips back to .500 – a familiar place – with a 4-4 record.
Week 10: Bucs vs. Cardinals – WIN
The Bucs have a triumphant return home to face a very young and inexperienced Cardinals team. Arians and Tampa Bay’s coaching staff came from Arizona, so the team will want to win this game for them and will do just that. Kyler Murray is harassed into sacks and turnovers as the Bucs record a blowout win as Winston is really grasping Arians’ offense by midseason. Tampa Bay improves to 5-4.
Week 11: Bucs vs. Saints – LOSS
This is the Saints’ year as they come into Raymond James Stadium, fall behind early but rally for the win behind the arm of Drew Brees, who picks on Tampa Bay’s young secondary – just like last year. Like the loss in Week 2 at Carolina, this one stings, as it alters the Bucs’ course for the playoffs. Tampa Bay is back at .500 with a 5-5 record.
Week 12: Bucs at Falcons – LOSS
The Bucs are still in the hunt for a playoff spot in Week 12, which is a good thing. The problem is that the Falcons are too, and they are tough to beat in Atlanta. Matt Ryan and his array of weapons led by Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley have their way with the Bucs’ young secondary, following a blue print laid out by Brees and the Saints the week prior. This divisional loss hurts, and the Bucs fall to 5-6 on the year.
Week 13: Bucs at Jaguars – WIN
Tampa Bay gets a needed bounce-back win on the road at Jacksonville in a low-scoring contest in which both defenses rule the day. Bowles’ unit has more success in forcing takeaways and that along with a last-minute Matt Gay field goal proves to be the difference for the Bucs, who improve to 6-6 and get back to .500.
Week 14: Bucs vs. Colts – WIN
Indianapolis is without Andrew Luck, but that doesn’t mean they are an easy win. Jacoby Brissett has enough weapons around him to be dangerous, and the Colts defense can be formidable. Yet this is a must-win game for the Bucs to stay alive for the postseason and they deliver at home with a close win. Tampa Bay is now 7-6 and controls its own playoff destiny.
Week 15: Bucs at Lions – LOSS
Every year it seems the Bucs always seem to manage to lose a game they should win, and this year’s gaffe game is in Detroit. The Bucs are better than the Lions, but Matt Stafford gets hot and never cools off, while Winston can’t match him in the Motor City. The Bucs’ playoff hopes take a hit in this crushing loss on the road as the team returns to .500 with a 7-7 record.
Week 16: Bucs vs. Texans – LOSS
The Bucs still have a shot at a 9-7 record and a wild card playoff spot, but Houston is on a playoff hunt of its own and comes into Raymond James Stadium and scores an upset courtesy of Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt. With its playoff hopes dashed, the big question for the 7-8 Bucs is whether the team finishes 7-9 or 8-8 the following week.
Week 17: Bucs vs. Falcons – WIN
Tampa Bay shows some resolve and knocks Atlanta out of the playoff hunt with a season-ending win to get back to 8-8. The Buccaneers feel good heading into the 2020 offseason with a lot to build on from the 2019 campaign and a hunger and taste for the playoffs the next year.
Tampa Bay finishes with a 6-2 at home and 2-6 with close regrettable losses at Carolina, at Atlanta and at Detroit, in addition to a home loss against Houston that ultimately cost the Bucs a long-awaited playoff berth. Defending the Bay is important, and the Bucs learned how to do that this year under Arians.
But a 2-4 record in the NFC South division is disappointing and will be the focal point for Tampa Bay’s personnel acquisitions in the offseason. Getting players that can match up against Atlanta, Carolina and especially New Orleans twice a year will be paramount for Arians and general manager Jason Licht as the Bucs knock on the playoffs door this year, and kick it in next year in 2020.
While I predicted an 8-8 for Tampa Bay this year, others on the PewterReport.com staff did not. We had one Pewter Reporter forecast a 10-6 finish for the Bucs, while three others had a 7-9 prediction. Be sure to read the new PR Roundtable for all the details.
Now that we’ve rolled through the 2019 season game-by-game, let’s take a look at which stars will shine bright this season in Tampa Bay. Click on the next page for the Bucs’ 2019 Season Pewter Predictions.