Key Road Games: at Miami (Week 1), at New Orleans (Week 8), at Atlanta (Week 12), at Green Bay (Week 13), at Carolina (Week 16)
Key Home Games: New York Giants (Week 4), New England (Week 5, TNF), Detroit (Week 14), Atlanta (Week 15, MNF), New Orleans (Week 17)
Bye: Week 11
The draft is six days away. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off a 2016 in which they finished better than third or worse in the NFC South for the first time since 2007, their most recent division title under the helm of Jon Gruden. A 9-7 finish, just missing the playoffs, has the franchise itching for more and getting better by the day. Jameis Winston became the first quarterback of all-time to eclipse the 4,000 passing yards in his first two seasons. Mike Evans has become a top-3 wide receiver in the NFL, receiving for over 1,000 yards in his first three professional seasons. Pair that with newcomer DeSean Jackson and I’m not so sure there has ever been a more potent Buccaneer passing attack.
I’m going to let my colleagues handle the draft talk, you can find the first article in the draft series here. The draft begins Thursday, April 27 at 8 p.m. ET.
The Bucs have the opportunity to do something special in 2017. The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead. This team can easily start the season 4-0, heading into a Thursday night primetime affair at home with the defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. Also, I would love to see an all-black with ‘Bucco Bruce-orange’ and red trimmed Color Rush jersey. Side note, if you don’t like Color Rush then you are what’s wrong with this world.
The first four weeks are as follows: at Miami, home vs. Chicago, at Minnesota, and home vs. New York Giants. Like I said, the potential of four wins to kick off 2017 is there, but the team will likely come away with a 3-1 record heading into the Pats game.
The next quarter of the season is as follows: home vs. New England, at Arizona, at Buffalo, and home vs. Carolina. Ah, the first division matchup comes in week eight. The Thursday night game will be electric, but Tom Brady (who will be 40 this season and still the best QB in the league) and company will come out on top, leaving the Bucs at 3-2. Arizona and Buffalo are both teams that underperformed last season, so there should be an improvement heading into 2017. However, the Bucs should handle those two teams rather handedly and start divisional play with a 5-2 record.
The next three opponents should be wins as well for Tampa Bay. A home date with Carolina, a road contest at New Orleans, and finally home against the Jets heading into the bye week. Should be three wins, but the Bucs will stroll into their bye at 7-3.
The home stretch will be no easy task. Kicking off at Atlanta (who blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl), the Bucs will follow their first game at Mercedez-Benz Stadium with a trip to Lambeau Field on December 3rd. Icy conditions could be in play there, so I like the Packers in that matchup. Tampa Bay will return home weeks 14 and 15 to face Detroit and Atlanta. I can’t tell you which game the Bucs will win against Atlanta, but I know for a fact that will split just as they did in 2016. Also worth noting, I called the Bucs 9-7 record on Twitter following their week one victory against Atlanta this past season. With all that being said, a safe bet for the Tampa Bay will be 9-5 proceeding to the final two divisional games.
The team will close out the season with a road date with Carolina and home versus the Saints, where Drew Brees will likely be in a wheelchair by the time that game rolls around. The Bucs will finish 11-5, division champs and will look to make a playoff run for the first time since 2007.
Quick recap of Super Bowl 51 in case you missed it…
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers like I said, will make the playoffs in 2017 and take on the Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl. Winson, Evans and Jackson team up for a historic year and we will hear the cannons fire on repeat from September-December.
Also, if you didn't click on those links then you done goofed.