Tampa Bay Buccaneers Second Half Game By Game Predictions
3-5. That’s the first half record of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. How will the rest of the games turn out?
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The Buccaneers have shown the fans signs of potential but they also have shown signs of regression, or lack of improvement, in some areas. The passing offense has remained consistent. The run game has been a focus but due to injuries has not reached its true potential. The offensive line is not consistent but very young. The defensive line is injured yet again.
The growth of Kwon Alexander as the quarterback of the defense has been crucial. The pass defense has not improved at all. Don’t even get me started on special teams.
This team is not out of anything yet but if the last two games have told us anything they have another year before they can get there. The next couple of games are going to be the most telling on the season if the Bucs have something left in the tank, or if they’ve given up and are already looking at next season. Let’s go game by game and look at what the Bucs could do in the second half of the season.
Week 10: vs. Chicago Bears
The Bucs are coming off a mini bye and a blowout loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football. The Chicago Bears are coming off a bye after a huge Monday Night win on Halloween against the Minnesota Vikings. The Bears looked revitalized defensively and the combination of Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Miller, and Jordan Howard are not as bad as they have been.
The whole town of Chicago has come alive since the Cubs won the World Series. The Bears defense has been fairly stout but they have no one who can cover Evans. The Bucs should look to exploit that matchup with Winston and Evans. The only issue with that is Evans may not play with a concussion and the Bucs have no depth at receiver. Rumors are that Doug Martin can return this week but even if he does I don’t think he’ll be at 100%.
Both teams are almost out of it but the Bears have had the Bucs number the past two seasons. Barring a miraculous recovery by Evans and Martin I’m predicting another loss at the Den of Depression, 28-24 Chicago. (3-6)
Week 11: at Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are another top-tier team that no one’s really talking about. It may be because the division they are in. With the Super Bowl Champions and the resurgent Oakland Raiders in the AFC West with Kansas City, it’s a difficult nut to crack. But, I think that’s exactly where the Chiefs want to be. Going under the radar but sporting top talent is what the Bucs should want to emulate.
The Chiefs are a very different team than the Bucs. They have a veteran head coach in Andy Reid, a game manager in Alex Smith, and an offense that doesn’t turn the ball over. Defensively they should have top pass rusher Justin Houston back and with ball hawk Marcus Peters and stud safety Eric Berry the Bucs have a tough task this week.
The Bucs are actually a better team on the road but Arrowhead is one of the loudest stadiums in the league and the Chiefs are definite contender this season. Tampa’s losing streak extends to four as the Chiefs take this one easily, 30-17. (3-7)
Week 12: vs Seattle Seahawks
Don’t look now but the Russell Wilson is healthy again and the Seahawks are firmly ahead in the NFC West at 5-2-1. The defense is still a top five unit even after struggling against the Bills on Monday Night Football. Oh and Jimmy Graham is starting to look like he used to back when he was with the New Orleans Saints.
Their running game hasn’t been as great as it used to but the threat of Wilson running and injuries to Thomas Rawls have limited the offense. I think that this team is going to be at near 100% for this match-up in Tampa Bay. Not only will the offense be healthy but they should also have Bam Kam Chancellor back. At this point the offense should be fully healthy for Tampa as well but Seattle’s defense is too much. Bucs lose again in the potential trap game for the Seahawks, 24-14. (3-8)
Week 13: at San Diego Chargers
Maybe one of the most surprising teams at this point in the season is the San Diego Chargers. In the best division in the league they are still in the race. At 4-5 they could easily be 7-2 had the ball bounced their way a couple of times. That’s life in the NFL.
And if you thought the Bucs were slaughtered by injuries the Chargers have had guys go down left and right. With star receiver Keenan Allen and running back Danny Woodhead going down so early in the season the team was written off. With the emergence of holdout Joey Bosa this team is not out of it by any means.
Melvin Gordon is in a complete 180 of what he was last year and has made this offense along with Philip Rivers, respectable. In a stadium where they have almost as bad home field advantage as Tampa I feel the Bucs can pull off the upset this week and edge out the Super Chargers 33-30. (4-8)
Week 14: vs New Orleans Saints
This is the first meeting of the year against a division rival this late in the season, which is a little odd. The New Orleans Saints seem to have bounced back after the 0-3 start by winning four of the next five games. The games they’ve lost have been very close, losing all but one by less than seven points.
The Saints have a tough stretch ahead of them and that will determine if they are in the hunt or not. The Saints defense is still really bad and the Bucs are going to be desperate for a home win too.
In this one, Winston matches Drew Brees all game long. It’s a high scoring affair and the Bucs manage to pull off a win in a shootout, 42-41. (5-8)
Week 15: at Dallas Cowboys
Who would have thought that the Dallas Cowboys with no Tony Romo and a similar defense to last season would be 7-1 at the midway point of the season? If you told me that during the preseason I would have laughed in your face. I knew Ezekiel Elliott was going to be special behind that offensive line but Dak Prescott is a completely different player than he was at Mississippi State. He is still mobile like he was in college but his accuracy and decision-making are incredibly improved since then.
I mean, would have thought that a rookie would have caused fans to want Romo to stay on the bench? That is exactly what Prescott has done. He is a leader and has taken the NFL by storm making headlines the way Carson Wentz has in Philadelphia.
Barring the largest collapse in NFL history the Cowboys are a playoff team. At week 15 in the NFL season this could be a crucial game for the Cowboys if they want a first round bye. They will look to entertain the hometown crowd and blow out the Bucs 34-20. (5-9)
Week 16: at New Orleans Saints
Just two weeks removed from playing the Saints they again square off towards the end of the season. This matchup falls on Christmas Eve and it’s not going to be a present for either team. Both teams are most likely out of the playoffs at this point so it may be a battle of who wants a better draft pick.
The Bucs may want to consider tanking at this point if they are really in rebuilding mode. They need to get the best players they can and I like to believe that they know that. Winning a road game at the end of the season does not help your team get better in the long run. With the home field advantage on their side the Saints pull away in this sloppy victory, 27-21. (5-10)
Fans might not like that, but in the end it won’t be such a bad thing.
Week 17: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Carolina Panthers are not the same team the Bucs played week five on Monday Night Football. They aren’t the same team even before that when they had won only once. By now, the Panthers could have come all the way back into playoff contention. After the loss to Tampa, Carolina is 2-1 with a moderately lighter schedule ahead of them. If they continue winning they could easily be in the playoff race.
The Bucs will be far out of it at this point and the Panthers should have a healthy Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart for this game. The Bucs will be worn out from the long season and with little to play for, the Panthers easily take this one 28-13. (5-11)
I’m sorry if I’m not being the happy optimist that many Bucs fans want to be but I like to think of myself as a realist. I realize after watching these past two games against Oakland and Atlanta that they are not ready to compete for a playoff spot. The offense is competent but the defense can’t stop a nosebleed. Rebuilding takes time and ever since Gruden left the Bucs have been rebuilding. That was in 2009. It is probably time for the Bucs to rethink about a complete overhaul of this team starting with the defense.