You can’t have preseason without some predictions right?
The long wait is over. Football is back.
How will the Bucs do this season? After a big win to end 2017, a suspension, injuries, and mounting pressure have cast a shadow on 2018.
The staff gives their season predictions and why they think it will go down that way.
Alex: The Buccaneers have the talent to win double digit games, but there is still so many question marks surrounding this franchise. Will Dirk Koetter take steps forward in his third season as head coach? Will the rookie defensive backs make an immediate impact? How will the offensive line play? Can the defensive line get to the quarterback on a consistent basis? Can Ryan Fitzpatrick win one of the first three games? It goes on and on. I’m not trying to be negative, but these are legitimate questions surrounding this team that haven’t been answered. Yes, they have looked better this preseason then last, but in the end, it doesn’t count or mean anything.
This season, in my opinion, it’s going to be a frustrating one for Tampa Bay. They absolutely got better during the off season, there is no question about that, but the schedule doesn’t do them any favors and being without Jameis Winston for the toughest three game stretch of any team in the Super Bowl Era is going to be hard to overcome. They play in a division that had three 10-game winners last year and every quarterback outside of Winston has won an MVP. The lack of depth is another thing that concerns me with this football team. The Buccaneers literally cannot afford any long term injuries at almost every position on their team besides linebacker and wide receiver.
A lot of things went wrong last year and they still won five games. If it wasn’t for the schedule I would be leaning towards a winning record, but its so daunting that I just can’t see it.
Record prediction: 7-9.
Bailey: I’ve thought about my record prediction all summer and I’ve changed my answer about five times. This season is extremely hard to predict, especially with the suspension of Jameis Winston for the first three games. Many seem ready to put the Bucs down for an 0-3 start, but I’m not so sure. This team has enough talent to where it just needs Ryan Fitzpatrick to manage the games well and not turn the ball over. Tampa Bay can pick up a win— or even two— in the first three games. I think one is a reasonable expectation.
Once Winston comes back, the schedule presents somewhat of a mixed bag. There are winnable games against the Bears, Bengals, Redskins, Giants and Ravens. The NFC South games are always tough, plus there are the 49ers, Bengals and Cowboys. Tampa Bay is historically a tough team to predict, considering its tendency to lose winnable games. The same will probably said this year, with some remaining issues to work out before 2019. We’ll see some great things this year. We’ll also see some frustrating things. What could that possibly equal out to?
Record prediction: 8-8
David: I was just like the rest of you at the end of last season. A little hurt. A little angry. Highly disappointed. However, I also had hope. The team was on the cusp of being something really good. They just needed a few more pieces, and to do some adding through subtraction.
Armed with the best general manager in the NFL, the Buccaneers have done what they needed to, to win now.
The Jameis Winston suspension hurts, but Ryan Fitzpatrick has looked solid overall. The running game is improved, and even though we didn’t see a whole lot this pre-season, what I saw in game three from the defensive line has me excited. Splits against the Falcons and Saints while sweeping the Panthers gives the Bucs a record of...
Record prediction: 11-5
Dustin: Obviously, if Jameis Winston wasn’t suspended for the first three games I would predict one to two more wins than I’ve noted for Tampa Bay. However, I just feel like there are too many question marks around this team. They’re going to have prove themselves in a few areas.
I’m not convinced bythe talent at running back after Barber. The inconsistency along the offensive and defensive line scares me a little because you have to dominate the line of scrimmage to be successful on either side of the ball at this level.
The youth in the defensive backfield is a little disheartening as well though I think the play will improve in the back end as the season goes on.
When Winston comes back I do believe the offense will take a big step forward. More big plays, definitely some turnovers, but more good than bad.
In the end I think it just comes down to Tampa Bay having one of the toughest schedules in the NFL and starting their season against three marquee opponents without their best player.
They’ll be on the outside looking in on a Wild Card spot.
Record Prediction: 9-7
Evan: I was riding high heading into the season until the rash of injuries hit this team and nearly derailed training camp. It’s one thing for veterans in a grounded system to miss time, but it’s an entirely different story when it’s the majority of rookies missing training camp. Add in the fact that these rookies are being counted on to be major contributors in 2018 and all of a sudden, it’s a different feeling.
However, after attending camp - albeit limited attendance - and watching this team up close, it’s allowed me to get a slight feel for this team. They are ready to win some games. I think the Bucs get through the first three games with a 2-1 record and ride the momentum to a winning season.
Whether or not that is enough to make the playoffs remains to be seen, but it will make for a fun 2018.
Record Prediction: 9-7
James: This is tough due to the looming Winston suspension. The Buccaneers have to find a way to escape with at least one win. If they do so, I could see them finishing 9-7. They have winnable games on the schedule after the initial gauntlet of Super Bowl contenders. The Browns, Bengals, Ravens, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins are all winnable. In the division, anything can happen. This team has the talent to finish over .500. If they don’t, you have to believe it’s a coaching problem, not a talent problem.
Record Prediction: 9-7
Jon: This is hard to predict, because there’s a ton of factors at play here: Winston’s suspension for the first three games, the projected strength of schedule (especially in the first three games), and the fact that Tampa Bay had really poor luck in one-score games last season (3-8), which makes them a huge regression candidate to win more games this year just based on that. But, the defense was really bad last year, and even a tremendous improvement could make them average. And even if that’s the case, the NFC is absolutely loaded. There are eight to ten teams that are better than Tampa Bay in my opinion, and only six get to make it to postseason play. So even if the Bucs are very much improved, and I think they will be improved to some degree, they could be left out just because a crowded field, and the Bucs are sitting right in the thick of what is likely to again be the most difficult division in the league. If they were in the AFC I might pencil them in for eight to ten wins. But they aren’t. When I do win shares I come out with 7.88 wins on average, which indicates a 7-9/8-8 record. But I’m also not sold on Koetter as a head coach, or as a play-caller. If Koetter takes back play-calling for the regular season, as has been reported, then my prediction is 6-10. If Monken retains it, my prediction would be 7-9 or 8-8.
Record Prediction 6-10
Kyle: Tampa Bay is starting this season in an unfortunate manner with its quarterback watching from a distance as he serves his three game suspension, that however, won’t be the death sentence that many envision it to be. Jameis Winston will return in Week 4 and if this pre-season was any indication of the quarterback he may be, or possibly the the man who was on fire down the stretch a season ago after returning from injury, then this offense will be ready to roll. The defense has improved with veteran presence up front and some new, young blood in the defensive backfield. The demeanor of the front four on defense should be much improved as Jason Pierre-Paul has taken leadership among the group alongside Gerald McCoy. The division opponents each have their own qualms to overcome and while the strength of schedule may look bleak as of now, nothing can predict what bumps in the road other teams may face as well.
This team has to be different. This team has to be different because an entire staff and front office’s livelihood’s are counting on it. A quarterback is battling decisions of his past that are casting shadows over his future. He needs to be special this year for himself and his coaches - as well as his teammates. Hopefully the team has a couple victories under their belt when the Bucs head to Chicago.
When Winston returns, this team is going to shock people.
Winston is going to shock people.
Record Prediction: 10-6
Gil: My goodness. We have some cautious optimism in here. I am not sure what some of the pessimism is for, to be honest. I mean, the team has struggled in recent years and that could be the reason why people (including this staff, smh) are still down on them. But I see something much different this year than in previous years covering them. Attitude is much different which started in the offseason when many players made commitments to get better. Some even going to workout and train together which hasn’t happened much before (see DeSean Jackson working out with Jameis Winston and others). The addition of defensive line coach Brentson Buckner is a difference maker, too. Not to mention, there are surprises every season.
Are there question marks? Sure. But not nearly as many as what others have. My two concerns are with the secondary and the depth across the offensive line. However, I do feel the Buccaneers can overcome those two potential issues and since I don’t back down from any record prediction previously, I’m staying even truer to what I told SB Nation’s Canal Street Chronicles and what I’ve said on social media.
In 2018, Tampa Bay will be a pleasant surprise.
Record Prediction: 11-5
How many wins will the Bucs have in 2018?
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