The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope to make it to the playoffs this year, as they do every year. This time it’s actually realistic, though most third-party analysts so far have not agreed—we’ve mostly seen six-to-eight-win predictions, and mediocre rankings for the Bucs.
Not everywhere, though. At Sports Illustrated, Jonathan Jones thinks the Bucs will manage a 10-6 record against a pretty tough schedule, comparing them to the 2013 Carolina Panthers who won the NFC South (and then lost their first playoff game oops).
Pivotal game: Week 5 vs. Patriots. Just like those ’13 Panthers, the Bucs get to test the Patriots in a night game at home. Tampa Bay held up well in their flexed primetime game last year, a 26–20 loss in Dallas. Now comes the real challenge in what will be their most anticipated home game in years.
I eh....I’m not sure going against the reigning Super Bowl champions on a short week is really a pivotal game for anything. That’s likely to be their toughest matchup of the entire year, and a loss would be entirely expected and wouldn’t much hurt their playoff chances.
A win, though, would be a shocker and a signal that the Bucs may be a real threat. In that case it could be a pivotal game, or more accurately: a break-out game. But that would be a very unexpected outcome.
Back to the actually important thing, though: that 10-6 record. That would be the Bucs’ best result since 2010, and it would most likely mean a playoff spot for Tampa Bay—the first since the 2007 season. Even if the Bucs don’t do any damage in the playoffs after that, we could probably call that a successful season, and certainly the most successful one in a decade.
Of course, for that to happen it has to...actually happen. And all these prognostications are nice, but they’re just words. The real results won’t be known until the end of this year. Can’t wait!