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Can the Buccaneers go from worst to first?

New Orleans Saints  v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, like every other team in the NFL, want to win a Super Bowl this year. A slightly more realistic goal is getting to the playoffs, and potentially winning the division. That’s a tall order for a team that went 6-10 last year, faces a much more difficult schedule, and is the same division as the Super Bowl-losing, 15-1 Carolina Panthers.

Still, the Sporting News thinks the Bucs are the third-most likely team to go from worst to first in their division.

Silly, isn’t it, to give a team in the same division as the 15-1 NFC champion Panthers and MVP Cam Newton this much of a chance? However, don’t discredit (as many have) how productive Jameis Winston was as a rookie. They drafted extremely well on defense and kept Doug Martin. Getting past the other two division teams, the Falcons and Saints, is entirely possible.

I could see this happening, if everything falls into place. That means Jameis Winston taking a few large steps, Doug Martin staying healthy and at last year’s level, Mike Smith genuinely lifting this defense to a new level, and at least some of the new defensive players playing at a high level. Oh, and not too many injuries, of course.

Those are a lot of ifs, though, and a real worst-to-first scenario isn’t all that likely. More probably, the Bucs are going to be competitive throughout the year, and may end up with a wild card playoff spot. That’d certainly be a big improvement over the past few years, and would be a successful season. No need to go worst to first: just sneak into the playoffs, and then backdoor your way to a Super Bowl win. That’s much more fun.