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Buccaneers 2016 season preview: Week two statement against the Cardinals

NFL: NFC Wild Card Playoff-Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Previewing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2016 season. Today: week two, at the Arizona Cardinals.

Bucs’ all-time record vs. Arizona: 9-9

Traveling to Arizona in September to exercise in the dry heat isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but that’s exactly what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will do in week two of the 2016 regular season.

The Cardinals are coming off one of their best seasons ever, winning 13 regular season games, winning the NFC West, and beating the Green Bay Packers in the divisional playoffs — before getting crushed by the Carolina Panthers in the conference championship game. Such is life.

The Cardinals, in other words, are an outstanding team. The Bucs are not. They’re coming off a 6-10 season and while there’s good reason to be optimistic about Tampa Bay’s chances this year and in the future, they’re not at Arizona’s level — not unless we see some amazing improvement this offseason.

The Cardinals are outstanding across the board: an explosive passing game, a strong running game, a disruptive and varied pass rush and a shutdown secondary.

I have a hard time seeing the Bucs winning this game. I mean, obviously, it’s the NFL and anything can happen. But they’re going up against one of the best teams in the NFL, a team that didn’t lose significant talent and should, barring injury, really be one of the best in the NFL this year.

That said, a win would be one hell of an early-season statement for the Buccaneers.