Sun. Jun 16th, 2024
NFL: DEC 31 Saints at Bucs
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How will the Bucs fare this upcoming season?

With the NFL schedule finally releasing and the football world now starting to cool down for the summer, I thought it would be a fun exercise to go through each game on the Bucs schedule and predict wins and losses. Will the Bucs make it a fourth straight NFC South title?

Week 1 Vs Washington Commanders, 4:25 PM EST

The Bucs welcome in the second overall pick in quarterback Jayden Daniels as he will likely lead the Washington Commanders heading into this one. Playing a rookie QB in their first game has its pros and cons. A pro is that the rookie is going to be adjusting to playing at the NFL level and NFL speed, which could lead to rookie mistakes. The con however is that there isn’t much tape on the player playing against other pros. We have seen rookie QBs come in for their first career start and Tampa in burn the Bucs, Marcus Mariota in 2015 and Daniel Jones in 2019 being two prime examples.

Could that happen to Tampa Bay in this game? Sure, but this Bucs team is better than a rebuilder in Washington. The game could get hairy at times because Washington isn’t completely void of talent, but I see Tampa starting off the year on the right note.

Win (Record 1-0)

Week 2 @ Detroit Lions, 1:00 PM EST

A rematch of the divisional round from last year, the Bucs return to the place where there season ended in heartbreaking fashion. The Lions are still one of the best teams in the NFC and even the entire NFL. It won’t be an easy task for Tampa Bay, but they may be up for some revenge in the motor city.

Jared Goff has been a thorn in the side of Todd Bowles’ Bucs defense, having a 4-1 record against Tampa Bay’s unit and winning four straight. I think this game is close, but the Lions are probably still just a bit too much for the Bucs early in the season and on the road.

Loss (Record 1-1)

Week 3 Vs Denver Broncos, 1:00 PM EST

After being on the road, Tampa Bay returns home to face another rookie QB, this time in the form of Bo Nix, who was Denver’s first round selection. A 1:00 PM EST start in Tampa should be an advantage to the Bucs playing against a team out West. This is another scenario where Denver’s roster has some nice pieces on it, but the Bucs simply have more talent. Rookie QBs can be scary as highlighted earlier, but the Bucs find a way to get it done for the second time in three weeks.

Win (Record 2-1)

Week 4 Vs Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 PM EST

A 2-1 start has Bucs fans feeling good and now they get to face the team Tampa Bay eliminated just a few months ago in the Philadelphia Eagles. The wild card game between these two teams was not very competitive, as the Bucs stomped the Eagles in front of the Tampa faithful. Now the Eagles are back and should have an improved roster after adding players like Saquon Barkley, Bryce Huff, Quinyon Mitchell and others.

This is not the same Eagles team that the Bucs played in January. By that point, that team had pretty much given up, but this will be a reenergized one. However, the Bucs know they can really make a statement here by starting 3-1 and I think this game is super close until the very end. Unfortunately, I think the Bucs come up just a little short in this one.

Loss (Record 2-2)

Week 5 @ Atlanta Falcons, 8:15 PM EST, Thursday Night Football

The biggest matchup of the Bucs season so far and it is the first divisonal game they will play. They face off against the Falcons on primetime and will be the first time they see Kirk Cousins in a Falcons jersey. Tampa and Atlanta could very well be the two teams battling for the NFC South title, so this game could have massive implications.

Atlanta Falcons OTA Offseason Workout
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Coming off a disappointing loss and on a short week, it will not be an easy task for Tampa Bay to win this game on the road, but as we saw last season, this team rises to the occasion when faced with adversity. The Falcons may still be adjusting to having a new signal caller and that could benefit the Bucs. I think they come through once more here and pull off a thrilling victory to get one over on the Falcons early in the season.

Win (Record 3-2)

Week 6 @ New Orleans Saints, 1:00 PM EST

Another tough test on the road again against a division rival, the Bucs go into New Orleans for a date with the Saints. Despite all of their struggles against the Saints and particularly in New Orleans over the years, the Bucs have won the last two matchups in the Superdome and hope to make it a third here.

It seems that no matter what kind of rosters these two teams have, the game will always be tough and sort of a grind it out type style. The Saints still have some talent, but they aren’t likely to be a serious threat in the NFC. However, asking Tampa to go on the road and beat two division rivals in a row is a tall task and I think they come up just a bit short here.

Loss (Record 3-3)

Week 7 Vs Baltimore Ravens, 8:15 PM EST, Monday Night Football

A true Super Bowl contender comes to town in the Baltimore Ravens who added Derrick Henry this offseason to bolster their already impressive running game. Oh yeah, they also have that Lamar Jackson guy, I’ve heard he’s pretty good. Jackson won MVP in 2023 and the Ravens are going to be a team looking to hoist the Lombardi trophy at the end of the year.

I just don’t think the Bucs are on the Ravens level quite yet. Tampa Bay can hang with anyone, but winning these types of games are going to be incredibly difficult and the Bucs don’t have enough to beat Baltimore here.

Loss (Record 3-4)

Week 8 Vs Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 PM EST

After two straight losses, the Bucs host the Falcons for the second and final matchup between these two teams. Having the Falcons matchups done this early could give whoever wins the games a clear early advantage in the race for the division.

I had the Bucs defeating the Falcons in Atlanta earlier in the year, but I’m not sure if the Falcons get swept. After losing the first game, Atlanta knows how important this game could be and they play like it, handing Tampa Bay their third straight loss.

Loss (Record 3-5)

Week 9 @ Kansas City Chiefs, 8:15 PM EST, Monday Night Football

Three straight losses and it doesn’t get any easier, heading on the road where the defending back to back Super Bowl champions await. We know what the Chiefs are and what they do best. Mahomes will do Mahomes things but it will be up to the Bucs offense to keep pace and limit the turnovers in this one. Unfortunately, I just don’t see a win here, sending the Bucs season into a complete spiral.

Loss (Record 3-6)

Week 10 Vs San Francisco 49ers, 1:00 PM EST

After playing the Super Bowl champions, the Bucs get the runner up in the 49ers. This is the end of a brutal stretch of games for Tampa Bay. The Niners are not immune to an upset here as any time a west coat team heads to the other side of the country, things can get interesting but the 49ers are arguably the most talented team in the entire NFL. The Bucs fight hard, but fall to San Francisco right before their much needed bye week.

Loss (Record 3-7)

Week 11 BYE

Week 12 @ New York Giants, 1:00 PM EST

After the bye week and having suffered five straight losses, the Bucs are on the road against the Giants in a game they may very well have to have. At this point the season is looking bleak, with not much hope but facing a Giants team that could potentially be one of the lower tier teams in the NFL is just what the doctor ordered for Tampa Bay.

The Bucs go into the Meadowlands and get off the losing skid with a big win against the Giants.

Win (Record 4-7)

Week 13 @ Carolina Panthers, 1:00 PM EST

After a potential season saving win, the Bucs stay on the road for their first date with the Carolina Panthers this season. They are facing off against former Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales, who was hired as Carolina’s head coach this past offseason. Carolina is still very much in the middle of a rebuild as they look to continue to build around Bryce Young.

Carolina Panthers Rookie Minicamp
Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The Bucs need to take advantage of the talent disparity between them and the Panthers and take care of business here. Tampa Bay struggled in both games against Carolina last year despite winning both of them. I do think this time around they handle the Panthers and make it a second straight win.

Win (Record 5-7)

Week 14 Vs Las Vegas Raiders, 1:00 PM EST

After two straight victories, the Bucs look to keep the good times rolling as they return to Tampa for the first time since week 10 to play the Raiders. Vegas is a team that has talent, but also multiple questions about important positions like quarterback and along the offensive line. Again, this is another instance where the Bucs are playing a west coast team in the 1 PM time slot which could benefit them.

Vegas gives the Bucs a good fight, but ultimately the Bucs come out on top and suddenly are one of the hottest teams in the NFL after winning three in a row.

Win (Record 6-7)

Week 15 @ Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 PM EST

Tampa Bay heads out west for a late season matchup with the Chargers and new head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Chargers have overgone a lot of major changes this offseason, hiring Harbaugh and saying goodbye to veterans Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. This feels like a transition year for Los Angeles as they get their cap situation better. However, that doesn’t mean the Chargers are going to lay down in this one.

This will be the only time all year the Bucs will have to travel out west, and it could be a disadvantage to them. After winning three straight games, the Bucs go into Los Angeles and lay an egg as the Chargers cool down Tampa Bay.

Loss (Record 6-8)

Week 16 @ Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 PM EST, Sunday Night Football

After a tough loss, the Bucs are again on the road and once again on primetime, this time against America’s Team. The Cowboys did not do much to improve in the offseason, citing cap issues as a reason they weren’t more active. Even though they didn’t add much outside help, this is still a pretty good football team that the Bucs will have to be ready for.

I think the Bucs rise to the occasion in front of a nationally televised audience and knock off Dallas to really make a late season push towards the playoffs. A signature win for Baker Mayfield and company.

Win (Record 7-8)

Week 17 Vs Carolina Panthers, 1:00 PM EST

The Bucs now face Carolina at home and by this point, Carolina may very well be ready to get the season over with, but that doesn’t mean they will just completely give up. I’m sure Carolina would love the opportunity to spoil Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes. Luckily I think the Bucs understand how important these last two games are and also realize it starts with this Panthers team. A win is a must and that is exactly what they get here.

Win (Record 8-8)

Week 18 Vs New Orleans Saints Time TBD

Tampa Bay wraps up their regular season at home once again. The Saints will always be a tough opponent for the Bucs, but the stakes could be very high in this one. This game will be the difference in Tampa Bay’s season between a winning and losing record and I think they are motivated to end strong.

There’s also a very good chance they will need to win this game in order to win the division or earn a wild card berth. After losing to New Orleans earlier in the season, the Bucs get revenge and send Bucs fans home happy.

Win (Record 9-8)

Tampa Bay finishes their season by going 9-8 for the second straight campaign. A 9-8 record could very well be enough to win an NFC South that has struggled the past few years. Despite not having double digit wins the past two seasons, the Bucs have still managed to win the division. In the event that 9-8 doesn’t get it done though, the Bucs would be right in the thick of things for a wild card spot. We will see where the Bucs end up come the end of the season.

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