The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are surrounded by optimism these days, including that of third-party analysts. But those who work in statistics are less confident in the team's improvements, and Football Outsiders' early projections have the Bucs at 6.5 wins on average.
Our projections see Tampa Bay as declining a little bit on offense and improving a bit on defense, but there are subjective reasons to question both of those results. The system is expecting regression from the offense, but of course the quarterback situation is much different now than it was two years ago. On the other side of the ball, Tampa Bay projects to improve because it has brought in more defensive approximate value over replacement than any other team in the NFL. However, the system may be overestimating the value of these veterans. Daryl Smith will be 34 this year, Brent Grimes 33, and Robert Ayers 31.
Part of the problem is the Bucs' schedule: they go from one of the easiest in the NFL last year, to the eighth-toughest this year, at least according to Football Outsiders' projections. Overall, though, that's only a small part of the issue. Despite a litany of moves to improve the team this offseason, including firing a head coach, the Bucs are projected to barely improve on last year's performance.
That pessimism also fits Las Vegas is offering on its books. Seven wins is the South Point Race and Sports Book's mark for the Bucs this year, and that's just disappointing. The Bucs didn't fire Lovie Smith for a one-game improvement: they want to make the playoffs this year, and they've repeatedly said so this offseason. Anything less wouldn't just be a disappointment for me and many fans, it would be a disappointment for the coaching staff, front office and ownership.