We're less than a three days away from the first (real) NFL game of the year and less than a week from the Bucs first game and home opener. With a new staff, new players on top of the depth chart and a new feel to the Bucs, a lot will change from years past. But what should we expect from the Bucs?
Rather than get into the position by position analysis just yet, let's look at the broader scope, you know, the whole "team" concept. Specifically, how have the Bucs done in season openers, home openers, and when they are one in the same. We'll look back to 1998, the year Raymond James Stadium opened and see just how the Bucs have done in the last 11 years.
A first look at season openers, only looking at away games. Since 1998 through 2008 (11 years), the Bucs have gone 4-4 in season openers. This comes with an average score of 14.375 (Bucs) to 15.75 (opponents). Fairly even, and the record indicates as such.
In season openers, regardless of locations, the Bucs have gone 4-7. Needless to say, the 4-7 start isn't what we want to see. The first game also has no correlation to how a team does, though I suspect if I spent enough time, I could probably figure out what percentage chance a team has to make the playoffs if they lose the first game, but I'll point to our Super Bowl year in which we lost the opener as proof that the season is never over after one game. This does include a game against the Cowboys that the Bucs won 10-6.
The home openers have a bit of a different tune. These numbers represent the totals after a home opener, regardless of date. From 1998-2008, the Bucs have gone 6-5 in home openers. The average score was 17.45 (Bucs) to 13.7 (opponents).
A bit of a different story, and while not great, it's above .500.
Now, to more relevant info, let's look at all games in which the season opener was the home opener. Over an 11 year period, how many games do you think the Bucs have had as home and season openers. I would've guessed 5 or 6. I'd also be wrong if I guessed that. The Bucs have had three games in which they hosted a season opener; 1999, 2002, and 2006. We didn't even get the season opener after our Super Bowl win (nor did the Rays after their AL crown, Tampa Bay bias?)
In the three games that represent season and home openers, the Bucs have gone a whopping 0-3. The score is even more disparaging, 11 (Bucs) to 23.3 (opponents). This includes a 27-0 beat down at the hands of the Ravens.
Ugh. Not good and certainly doesn't paint an optimstic picture for Morris and company. 2009's opener is a few days away. It keeps with the trend in giving us a season opener every 3-4 years. I hope that's where the similarities stop. Perhaps they can use this as a motivational tool. If the Bucs can scratch out a win, it will be the first home/season opening victory ever at the stadium, now there's a piece of useless trivia for you!