We're no longer in first place. Granted, we were only three weeks in, but "tied for first place" had a nice ring to it. While the Bucs sat at home and enjoyed a week off, they watched the Falcons trounce the San Francisco 49ers and the Saints play a much closer than expected game against the Panthers. With a win for Atlanta and New Orleans and the loss for Carolina, it moves us to 3rd place, with the Saints and Falcons being tied, though the Birds enjoy the tiebreaker currently.
Of course, sitting at 2-1, 3rd place sounds worse than it is. And over the next few weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a chance to make up some ground. If we take Gruden's famous four quarters of a season and divide it up, here's where we would stand.
Quarter 1: 2-1 with the Bengals left. Worst case is 2-2 but with how the Browns played and beat Cincy, I'd say we have a chance to go up there and beat them. Granted, getting punched in the mouth by the Browns will wake you up more times than not, but I wouldn't overlook the Bucs if I were the Bengals.
Quarter 2: vs New Orleans, vs. St. Louis, @ 'Zona, @ Atlanta. Call me crazy but I see 2-2 as the absolute worst here. We can definitely win the STL game and Zona has nothing going for it right now. That leaves two division games and while I'd happily walk away with 2-2, we'll be in both the ATL and NO game.
I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but in my not-so-expert opinion, I'd say 4-4 after 9 weeks (8 games) is more than realistic, with 5-3 being attainable without me having to put on the homer glasses. Of course, anything can happen, but if we keep our focus on the upcoming games, win where we should win and perhaps sneak one out against a better team, we'll be sitting in a good position.