Tony Dungy, up there, is incredibly positive on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (and the St. Louis Rams, but let's ignore that detail). Warren Sapp has been cheerleading for the Buccaneers on NFL Network all offseason. Meanwhile, other national analysts are equally positive.
My pick for most improved team in 2014? Your @TBBuccaneers.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) June 19, 2014
I could probably find a few more of those tweets if I tried, but I'm feeling a bit lazy. Okay, fine, one more: even the Bovada sportsbook is arguing the Bucs are one of the most-improved teams of 2014. And that was before the draft, which the Bucs also won, according to most independent analysts. Things are looking up!
Obligatory cautionary note: offseason predictions are notoriously haphazard, unreliable and easy prey for hindsight mockery. And if Peter King starts praising you, you're doomed. Thank goodness that hasn't happened, yet.
I can remember earlier love affairs, though. Like 2011, when Josh Freeman was going to lead the Bucs to the promised land. Or 2012, when the new free agency additions were going to do wonders for the team. Or 2013, when they could take that defense, build on offense and crush some teams.
Somehow, didn't really happen that way. But at least we now have a coach with a consistent track record of success, and a talented group of players. That alone should be enough to make you a believer.