Are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a playoff team?

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 11: Quarterback Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates a 13-yard touchdown run with quarterback Josh Johnson #11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars December 11, 2011 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Mike Mayock of NFL Network appeared on the Rich Eisen podcast, and claimed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a playoff team. Yes, the team that went 4-12 in 2011 and set a ridiculous amount of negative records has had such a good offseason that they are now seen as a playoff team by at least one major analyst. That's pretty impressive, but is that kind of expectation realistic?

Honestly, I don't know. I could see this team going 4-12 as easily as I could see them going 12-4 next season, especially in the NFC South. The talent to have a successful season is on the roster and was on the roster last season, the problem is getting that talent to perform consistently and throughout a full season, while staying healthy. The most important player for a successful is, as with any team, the quarterback. If Josh Freeman gets back on track, the Buccaneers could easily reach the playoffs. If he leads the league in turnovers for a second consecutive year, Tampa Bay is doomed.

Let's not forget the competition the Bucs face. Drew Brees can make any team highly competitive, while Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers scare me more than any other NFC South team. The Atlanta Falcons have been consistent, if boring, winners for the past years. Can the Bucs beat out those teams for a playoff spot?

What do you think, Bucs Nation? How far will the Bucs go this season?

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