The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on their bye week, chilling on the beaches and working on their game. Hopefully more of the latter than the former. When they return to work, they'll need to get through a schedule of 12 games, and they have to win most of them to stand a chance of making it to the playoffs this year. Follow us as we quickly go through every remaining game on the schedule.
Week 6: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are awful. They have actually won a game this year, but no one knows how. Their defense is horrible, their offense isn't much better except for the always amazing Jamaal Charles and they look increasingly disastrous in every game. Verdict: Win
Week 7: New Orleans Saints
The Saints are awful, but not quite as awful as the Chiefs. New Orleans is 0-4, has struggled in all phases of the game and their defense is especially pathetic. Yet, they have Drew Brees and he could carve up a Bucs pass defense that has been pretty weak so far this year. Still, the Bucs should have the better part of this matchup. Verdict: Win
Week 8: at Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings are somehow a good team this year. Christian Ponder looks like a quality, professional quarterback who hasn't turned the ball over once this year. Adrian Peterson is the best back in the league, despite his injury last year.On defense they have Jared Allen to provide the pass rush and decent if unspectacular players at most other positions. They've won three of their four games and kept every contest close. This isn't a great team, but it's a good team that should provide a tough challenge for the Bucs, who face a short week on this Thursday night game. Verdict: Loss
Week 9: at Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders are awful. Carson Palmer isn't a good quarterback anymore. Their speed on offense isn't paired with enough quality to pose a real threat to opponents. The defense can't stop anyone, and the pass defense is especially horrid, producing not a single interception this year. The Raiders are a re-building team with not a lot of talent. Verdict: Win.
Week 10: San Diego Chargers
The Chargers appear to have returned to form, as they've looked good in almost all of their games. They struggled against the Atlanta Falcons, but that appears to be an outlier. Their running game is pretty good and diverse, while the passing game is always good with Philip Rivers under center. Add to that a defense that is pretty good, though far from dominant, and we have the makings of another good-but-not-great team. Verdict: Loss.
Week 11: at Carolina Panthers
The Bucs have already won one game against Carolina, but can they do it again? The Panthers appear to be finding their stride and they should continue to improve as the year goes on. This game will be held in Charlotte, which won't help the Bucs' chances. Still, the Panthers have plenty of weaknesses: a poor pass defense and a turnover-prone offense. Verdict: Loss.
Week 12: Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons have been steamrolling the NFL so far, and it doesn't look like they'll stop any time soon. Their pass offense is destructive, while their defense has been solid thanks to Mike Nolan's excellent scheming. I expect their defense to drop off as the season continue, but they should continue to be a very good team. However, these division games are always tight and playing in Tampa helps the Bucs. Verdict: Loss.
Week 13: at Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning and Von Miller. That is a tough combination to beat. Manning is still adjusting to life in the NFL with a weaker arm, but he's looking better each week. Meanwhile, they have a good running game and a very talented defense, especially against the pass. This is a tough matchup for anyone, and playing at Migh Hile Stadium won't help. Verdict: Loss.
Week 14: Philadelphia Eagles
This team looks good every year, but then disappoints every year too. That's good for the Bucs, as it appears to be true this season too. Their defense is actually fairly good, although it's weak against the run, but Michael Vick has not been good this season. He's been turnover-prone and, well, simply not good. LeSean McCoy is the real key to their offense, but he hasn't been used much in typical Andy Reid fashion. Verdict: Win.
Week 15: at New Orleans Saints
Everything I wrote earlier in this article on the Saints applies, except that this game will be held in New Orleans. The Saints aren't likely to be competing for a playoff spot at this point in the season, but neither are the Bucs. Still, division games are usually good and competitive, but the New Orleans defense just isn't good enough to win them many games this year. Verdict: Win.
Week 16: St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams have been surprisingly good so far this year. Their defense has carried the team, however, as Sam Bradford is still struggling. The St. Louis defense has been overwhelming under Jeff Fisher, who has two of the NFL's best edge rushers at his disposal in the form of Robert Quinn and Chris Long. Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins anchor an imposing secondary, and it's very tough to pass on this team. However, their offense is holding them back. This should be a close game, but the fact that it will be held in Tampa could be the deciding factor. Verdict: Win.
Week 17: at Atlanta Falcons
The only real chance the Bucs have to win this game, other than key injuries to Falcons players, is for Atlanta to have locked up the number one seed by this time. So far, that seems likely. That could lead to the Falcons resting a lot of players, and the Bucs should be able to take advantage of that. Verdict: Win.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would win seven more games in this scenario, leaving them with an 8-8 record. That's not good enough to make it to the playoffs, but is it good enough to be considered a success in Greg Schiano's first NFL season? The Bucs have a chance to win a few more close games, but they'll need to play some great football to outperform this prediction.