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Buccaneers 2016 season preview: Taking on the Super Bowl champions

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NFL: Super Bowl 50-Carolina Panthers vs Denver Broncos Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Previewing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2016 season, game by game. Today: the Denver Broncos in week four.

Bucs’ all-time record vs. Broncos: 2-6

Usually when you take on the reigning Super Bowl champion, it’s a massive game. This time, though, it’ll be a little different, because these will not be the same Denver Broncos that beat the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl. The Broncos have been decimated this offseason, most obviously at quarterback. Peyton Manning retired, Brock Osweiler moved to the Houston Texans, and the Broncos are left with Paxton Lynch and Mark Sanchez. Whoof.

That’s just quarterback: they also lost Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan, Louis Vasquez and Owen Daniels. Those are some big names and key parts of Denver’s Super Bowl team that they’ve inadequately replaced.

That won’t make this an easy win, though. The Broncos still have a top-notch receiving corps, and a ridiculous pass-rush. But this team looks a lot more like last year’s Houston Texans than it does the Super Bowl winners. It’s a team that feels like it needs to rebuild, not a team that feels ready to repeat.

Of course, that doesn’t make a win easy, especially not for a team that is itself coming off a 6-10 season and has a ton of question marks. But this is the kind of game that the Bucs need to win if they want to make the playoffs — which is, after all, their goal for this season. And every season.

Moreover, it’s a game they can win. They have the much better quarterback, which counts for a lot. And while the Broncos have key players at key positions, the Bucs have a younger roster with more depth. In fact, if a few things go the Bucs’ way, this could turn into a blowout. Anything short of a victory, at least, should be considered a failure.