There's still no polling option for me, so PLEASE leave a LIKE or a COMMENT so I know I am loved.
I am loved, right?
Anyway, here's a week-by-week breakdown of the upcoming Buccaneers season, may the GODS have mercy on our souls:
Week 1 9/11 8:20 PM AT Dallas
Good news, kids, we open up as a Sunday nighter for the NBC crew, meaning everybody will be talking about this being Tom Brady's last season before he goes for the big money as a booth guy for FOX. /sigh
Last season Bucs opened at home vs. Dallas, and it was a close one all the way through before the Bucs won. We're facing the harder test of visiting them this year, so this doesn't bode well. Any advantages we have are that Dallas is going through some personnel shakeups and are still coached by a guy - McCarthy - who isn't exactly the genius head coach he thinks he is. It will come down to how our defense can shut down the Cowboys and if our pass rush has picked up some speed at the D-line. Possible Loss.
Week 2 9/18 1:00 PM AT New Orleans
Going back-to-back away games is always tough, and it's also tough to be going into the Superdome where the Saints have ridiculed the Bucs in regular season matchups. However, there may be signs of hope: Sean Peyton is no longer head coach, and the Saints lost some key players to a tight salary cap this offseason. They did re-sign Jameis Winston to solidify their QB spot, and he DID improve last season before he got injured. It's a question of if their new personnel can gel early in the season with Jameis to give a more veteran team like the Bucs any fits. Tampa Bay might finally win a regular season game here in... oh Gods how many years? Possible Win.
Week 3 9/25 4:25 PM Green Bay
The Battle of the Bays resumes another year, with Aaron Rodgers bringing his ugly mug back into the Ray Jay to face a team that has recently denied him his chances for more Super Bowl glory. Thankfully an afternoon matchup as we're still in SUMMER HEAT weather, Gods help us, the fate of this game revolves around Rodgers getting in sync with a fresh set of receivers now that primary target Davante Adams is gone AND if the Packers loaded front D can get at Brady this time. Possible Win.
Week 4 10/2 8:20 PM Kansas City
Another Sunday nighter, a marquee matchup of the Super Bowl LV opponents. A team that's still in the mix for AFC title hopes even as they've lost primary WR Tyreek Hill this off-season. Who is Antoine Winfield gonna taunt NOW? /sigh I can see us winning due to home field advantage and the possibility the Chiefs' offense may be going through some growing pains. Possible Win.
In the meantime, this is arguably one of the hardest first four weeks the Bucs have ever faced in a schedule before, with four potential playoff teams and three legit Super Bowl possibilities. If the Bucs go 3-1 through this round, it will be a glorious run. We're likely seeing a 2-2 record (losing close to Packers or Chiefs) going into October.
Week 510/9 1:00 PM Atlanta
Atlanta was a relatively easy opponent last season, and given how they've traded away Matt Ryan and replaced with less-than-effective Mariota, they could be in a downward trend this year. Is their coaching improving, is the defense improved? Probably not. Possible Win.
Week 6 10/16 1:00 PM at Pittsburgh
They may have reached the playoffs last year but everyone - even their biggest fans - knew it was through a fluke of an easy schedule and bad timing from other AFC teams. Arguably in a major rebuild mode with a rookie QB coming in and nothing else reliable at that roster spot, the Steelers may have home-field advantage and a potentially good defense but little else to make them a contender. Possible Win.
Week 7 10/23 1:00 PM at Carolina
The Bucs made mincemeat of them last year and there's little sign the Panthers improved during the offseason. Sam Darnold is still penciled in as a starter but he didn't improve from his bad Jets years. Panthers may have a decent defense and a threat at RB with McCaffrey, but it doesn't look like they'll match up well against this Bucs team. Possible Win.
Week 8 10/27 8:15 p.m. Baltimore
I HATE these short weeks for a Thursday night game. Almost no time to heal up and prep well. While the other team - this time the Ravens - are in the same boat, it just always bodes poorly for our Bucs. What's our Thursday night record overall, 3 wins total over how many seasons?
Baltimore is one of those teams that looks like they'll finally have a breakout year, with talent surrounding a hot QB in Lamar Jackson, but they'll always have a questionable roster spot that turns into an Achilles Heel. Who do they have at Receiver this year? I have no idea. They've also dealt with injury woes every year and by this point in the season they should be struggling for help. Bucs will have home-field advantage on their side for this one. Possible Win.
Week 9 11/6 4:25 PM Los Angeles Rams
I will argue that, outside of the Saints and the Packers (maybe more than the Pack), the Rams are the biggest rivalry we have. How many playoffs ended because of them? How many regular season games ended with them curb-stomping us? They shut us down last season in the regular game and then beat us up early in the playoff matchup to where our upset attempt late in the game failed. The Rams may have lost some talent to free agency but they still have the core elements of a team that won the Super Bowl this February. Of the regular season matchups, this is the one I feel is the most likely Loss.
Week 10 11/13 9:30 AM Seattle
Ach du Lieber Gott! We're playing in Germany, mein schnitzel!!! Schnell, Schnell! (Look, I flunked out of college-level German, what more do you want of me?!)
Do we win these overseas games? Well, Brady HAS won his overseas games, so we're riding on his luck this year. We're also facing a Seahawks team that may not have a QB starting at all by this time of the season. We'll be partying in Munich with all the lederhosen ladies serving us tankards of beer. Pity it's not Oktoberfest when the Bucs get there. Possible Win.
Week 11 Bye
Week 12 11/27 1:00 PM at Cleveland
We're at the FACTORY OF SADNESS, everybody, and while the Browns defense may be good on paper it'll be a question mark if they even have DeShaun Watson playing because he might be suspended for his off-field issues. If he's starting and he's got receivers to throw to, this could be a close game and a tough Loss for us. But I'm gambling we Win here.
Week 13 12/5 8:15 PM New Orleans
Our one Monday nighter at it's against one of our toughest foes. Whatever luck we had where I predicted a win in Week 2 may not be with us here, if the team's been able to gel and improve. The only advantage we should have is home-field, but this is going to be one of those close Wins that is going to give us heart attacks all night long.
Week 14 12/11 4:25 PM at San Francisco
Bucs rarely perform well in regular season matchups on the West Coast. We just don't travel well to that side of the map. By this point in the season we're facing injury concerns, stress-related anxiety, lack of sleep, etc. I've had the Bucs on a nice winning streak after the Rams game, but against a decent playoff caliber team like the Niners the Bucs' luck is gonna run out. Possible Loss.
Week 15 12/18 4:25 PM Cincinnati
Going up a team that just went to the Super Bowl already looks like a nail-biter on paper. We're also likely facing the best QB-WR tandem between Burrow and Chase since we faced Mahomes-Hill in 2020. Chase is a guy who can and will burn our secondary with ease, so it's going to be a question if our pass rush can get to Burrow first. I like the Bucs to eke out a Win so that we avoid a losing streak this late in the season
Week 16 12/25 8:20 PM at Arizona
Dear Santa: All I want this 2022 is an Optimus Prime Lego set, oh and a win for the Bucs in Arizona if you can please and thank you.
One last Sunday nighter on the road, again a West Coast trip that may not bode well, against a team that contended for a playoff spot last season and could be poised - if they did anything to fix their talent woes - for a bigger run to the Super Bowl (they ARE hosting this season, and so far host teams have been TWO FOR TWO). By now teams are either resting because they've clinched a playoff spot or they're fighting for their lives, and in this matter I think the Bucs may have clinched the NFC South - if I've been predicting the win count correctly - while the Cards are fighting with the 49ers and Rams for the West title. Bucs could arguably get a Loss here.
Week 17 1/1/2023 1:00 PM Carolina
Happy New Years, everybody! I hope you've all slept in well, except for the visiting Panthers who I hope will have serious hangovers and will play badly enough to get shut out. Possible Win for the Bucs, yay.
Week 18 1/7 or 1/8 TBD at Atlanta
We've never had a season go this late before, due to the NFL extending to 17 weeks and arguably starting late in September to make this season so wacky. This game is also offering an odd setup, where the Bucs and Falcons COULD play on a Monday night, which normally never happened for the final games of the season because it could mess with a team's playoff schedule (I may be wrong for the reason, but I've never seen a MNF for the last week before). I have no idea how this week will play out, other than the fact the Bucs will be on the road to Atlanta, domed stadium so no weather issues, but likely clinched a playoff spot and resting starters to avoid injury. Because Atlanta's not expected to be good this year, even with our backups this should be a decent Win.
Overall record: 13-4 at best, 11-6 likely.
If the Bucs get 13 wins, that should be enough to clinch the NFC South over the Saints, the only other serious threat on paper. If the Bucs get 11 wins, we still could win the division but we'll likely make the Wild Card instead.
The possible losses are to Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Arizona. We could lose close to New Orleans in one of the matchups, but hopefully not both. We could lose to either Green Bay or Kansas City. If we do lose to both, we're looking at a 10-7 season and a long-shot for a Wild Card.
You have to remember, the Bucs had a tough schedule last season and still went 13-4 and clinched the no.2 seed. We are arguably facing our toughest schedule in decades but we should realize some of these teams are on downturns this off-season and we may be catching them in a bad year. So here's hoping.
What do you think, sirs?