Analyzing the upcoming Bucs’ schedule

by Gary Shelton on May 8, 2020

in general

Can Arians make the playoffs?./STEVEN MUNCIE

Friday, 4 a.m.

It starts with the Geezer Bowl, with last year's man-to-blame on the sidelines watching.

Along the way, there are five prime time games. There is a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Jon Gruden is waiting.

And can you wait to see it?

The schedule for the Tampa Bay Bucs was released Thursday, which is when the hardcore fans start to assign wins and losses and set

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expectations. For the moment, it doesn't matter that the Bucs are in a 17-year stretch with no playoff wins, or they'll have a 43-year-old quarterback, or that the defense still has to convince people it can hold up.

For now, there is an outline. The is a blueprint. There is a plan.

Here comes the schedule. Are the Bucs ready for it?

Sept. 13. At New Orleans. Yeah, Jameis Winston will get to see his old buddies. Not on the field, though. The Saints are quarterbacked by Drew Brees, who was made for the turf in New Orleans. This is the division game that is most likely to be lost. Prediction: New Orleans.

Sept. 20. Carolina. The Panthers will be quarterbacked by the better-than-you think quarterback of Teddy Bridgewater. But the defense is without Luke Kuechly, and there is a new coach in town in Matt Ruhle. I like Ruhle, but he won't be any better than Ron Rivera. Prediction: Bucs.

Sept. 27. At Denver. Denver has always been a tough place for Brady to play. The Broncos have suffered at quarterback since Peyton Manning became an insurance salesman, but they have a feisty defense and it's a tough place to play. Prediction: Denver.

Oct. 4. Los Angeles Chargers. No one can quite be certain of who will be the quarterback for the Chargers (probably Tyrod Taylor this early in the season.) But the Chargers look like a rebuilding team. Prediction: Tampa Bay.

Oct. 8. At Chicago. The Bucs get another team that has a bad quarterback choice. Odds are, it will be Nick Foles this early in the season. It's a Thursday night game on the road, but the Bucs should win. Prediction: Tampa Bay.

Oct. 18. Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers will have something to prove this season, which could make it tough for a lot of defenses. The Bucs are home, but they'll be underdogs. Prediction: Green Bay.

Oct. 25. At Las Vegas. Has Gruden traded away any stars today? With an average quarterback and a roster that still isn't as good as when he arrived, the Bucs should survive the hoopla of Vegas in prime time. Prediction. Tampa Bay.

Nov. 2. At New York Giants. The Bucs' most regrettable loss of 2019 came against the Giants. Now, the Bucs get to take on New York -- a noted Brady-killer --- on Monday night. Prediction. Tampa Bay.

Nov. 8. New Orleans. The Bucs have always played the Saints better at home. But New Orleans is still ahead of Tampa Bay as far as building a complete roster. It'll be a close game, but a tough one. Prediction: New Orleans.

Nov. 15. At Carolina. The Panthers have taken a huge step backward. They should be the worst team in the NFC South. Prediction. Tampa Bay.

Nov. 23. Los Angeles Rams. The Bucs won a shootout a year ago, and they can do the same thing if either Mike Evans or Chris Godwin has a big day. This will be close, maybe even an overtime game. Prediction: Los Angeles.

Nov. 29. Kansas City. It should be the Buc' toughest game of the season with Patrick Mahomes and his array of weapons. There is a reason the Chiefs won the Super Bowl last year. Prediction: Kansas City.

Dec. 13 Minnesota. The Vikings are one of those teams that are always better than most people predict. They're solid, and Mike Zimmer does a good job. Prediction. Tampa Bay.

Dec. 20. At Atlanta. The Bucs' division goal would be simple: Split with the Saints and sweep the Falcons and Panthers. That's going to be tough. Julio Jones is always a pain for the Bucs. Prediction. Atlanta.

Dec. 26, at Detroit. Can Matt Stafford stay healthy this far into the season? We'll see. The Bucs have to win a road game if they're going to complete a playoff push. Prediction: Tampa Bay.

Jan. 3. Atlanta: The Bucs can't afford injuries like they had down the stretch last season, when both Evans and Godwin were hurt. But if Brady can stay healthy, the Bucs should finish strong. Prediction: Tampa Bay.

The season: The Bucs finish 10-6 and make the playoffs as a wild card team. Brady will start a little slowly as he adjusts, but he'll get better.

The fans? They'll want more.

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