I have to get this off my chest right now. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not be the worst team in the NFL like some experts are telling us. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will win more than five games this season.
I don’t care that Jameis Winston will be missing the first three games of the season with a suspension. I have total confidence in Ryan Fitzpatrick and I believe he will do a good job in Winstons absence.
The Bucs are getting absolutely zero respect from everyone who covers the NFL on a national basis. In 2016 the Bucs finished 10-6 and just missed the playoffs. Last year the Bucs took a step back as they finished 5-11 after everyone thought they would be in the playoffs and a few even had the Bucs playing in the Super Bowl.
The Bucs will be improved In all facets of the game this season. Jason Licht went out and re-worked the DL bringing
in two Super Bowl Champions in Beau Allen and Vinny Curry. Licht then went out and signed a hometown Tampa native and also a Super Bowl Champion in his own right Jason Pierre Paul who played his college ball at USF. Mitch Unrein was brought in from the Chicago Bears and Vita Vea the DT from Washington was taken with the No. 12 overall pick.
This DL will not be the same old DL that we have been used to seeing from the Buccaneers. This will be a very strong position for this Buccaneers team. Look for a lot more pressure to be applied to opposing QB’s. I would not be surprised if the Bucs double their sack total from 22 to 44 this season. That is how high my expectations are for this group. Jason Pierre Paul could be the first Bucs player with double digit sacks since Micheal Bennett over a decade ago.
The Bucs also re-worked the defensive backfield drafting three rookies in Carlton Davis, MJ Stewart, and Jordan Whitehead. All three made the team as the Bucs cut ties with Keith Tandy, Javien Elliott and Josh Robinson. When you are last in the NFL in pass defense like the Bucs were last year, You have to roll te dice and take some chances. The Bucs are counting on these three rookies to get significant playing time and improv the secondary.
The LB’s are solid with Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander anchoring that position. They will miss Kendall Beckwith the first five games of the season, but Adaruis Taylor played well last season and should start strong filling in for Beckwith.
Offensively, this offense will finish in the top 5 in the NFL. Look at all the weapons this team has. Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, a much improved Chris Godwin and OJ Howard from year 1.
At RB Shaun Wilson will add another dimension to the return game and also contibute in the running game. Peyton Barber has proven this pre-season that he is ready to assume the duties of the No. 1 running back position. I am anxious to see Ronald Jones run behind the No. 1 line and see what he can do as he tries to get his game going.
The Bucs got better and nastier on the OL as they made Ryan Jenson the highest paid center in the league. They also drafted Alex Cappa who should get significant playing time.
The Bucs will start the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB, as Jameis Winston serves his three game suspension. There is no guarantee that Winston will start game 4 in Chicago as the Bucs will be coming off a Monday night game and a short week of preparation.
Now for the bad news. The Bucs play in the toughest division in football in the NFC south. Every team has been to a Super Bowl. The Atanta Falcons will win the division followed by the New Orleans Saints as runners-up. I like the Buccaneers to beat out the Panthers for third in the division.
The Saints and Falcons will make the playoffs while the Panthers and the Buccaneers will be on the outside looking in.
Philly, GB, Atlanta and LA are my division winners in the NFC with New Orleans and Dallas getting the Wildcard spots.
In the AFC I like NE, Baltimore, Jacksonville, and LA Chargers as division winners with Pittsburgh and KC getting wild card berths.
I like the LA Rams to beat the LA Chargers and win Super Bowl 53.