After last week’s loss to the Cowboys, I thought I would go ahead and re-evaluate how I think the Bucs match up with their opponents on the remaining schedule. When the schedule was released I have to admit I was taken aback at the difficulty. Needless to say, things aren’t looking much brighter now that we’ve seen what we have to work with. When the schedule first came out I thought we would win 6 games. A lot has changed. Here’s the rundown.
Week 2. @ Buffalo
Initially I had this game circled on the schedule as a likely win for the Bucs. After the week 1 blitzkrieg that our secondary suffered I have been forced to reevaluate my opinion. I know New England’s defense is on the decline, but I still think they have a fairly decent secondary. Trent Edwards had a pretty nice game against New England on Monday night. I believe that he will put up pretty nice numbers vs. the Bucs. We were unable to contain 3 average receivers against Dallas, and I am pretty scared to see what will happen when we go up against two elite ones like T.O. and Lee Evans. Hopefully our new and improved offense can keep up. I’ll put our chances of winning this one at 45%.
Week 3. New York Football Giants
Their pass rush is back in full force. Osi Umenyiora must have been the missing ingredient last year, because they looked phenomenal against Washington last week. Their running game still appears fairly potent, even with the loss of Ward. I’m expecting Ward to run exceptionally hard this week. He doubtless has a small chip on his shoulder that the G-Men let him walk away. Eli Manning is always prone to throwing interceptions, and I’m still not buying that he is just as good without Plexiglass Plaxico Burress. Too bad our secondary is still missing Tanard Jackson at this point. Unfortunately for the Bucs 2+2 doesn’t equal 5 and I put our chances of winning this one at about 33%.
Week 4. @ Washington
Jason Campbell is slowly proving all his doubters right thus far this season. He failed to impress in week 1. Hopefully the Bucs can contain the mighty mite receiver tandem of Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El. The Redskins drafting of Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly two years ago has failed to pay dividends thus far for the franchise. Look at this week for one of the two to announce their presence in the NFL with some pretty gaudy numbers. Piscitelli may very well have been benched by this point and we are going to be in serious need of some safety help. The always entertaining (on and off the field) Clinton Portis is just enough of a threat in the backfield to gash our front four and really open up the play action. The addition of Albert Hayneworth should make it difficult for the Bucs to do the same. I have a good feeling about this one though. I prognosticate a likely win percentage of 51%.
Week 5. @ Philly
Welcome back Tanard Jackson! Please lay off the mary jane for the rest of season. Assuming he comes back in the same form he finished the preseason, our secondary immediately improves (thank God) as soon as he steps back onto the field. Philly looked deadly against our NFC South rival Carolina in Week 1 by picking Delhomme off 4 times (more on that in the Week 6 Summary). The loss of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson to cancer in the offseason seems to have really pulled this unit together. I expect Donovan McNabb to be fully recovered from his rib injury by this point, and I also expect them to be running a few gimmick plays with Michael Vick from time to time. If for some reason McNabb is still not playing, then we will get to see a slightly older, slightly gayer oops, I meant grayer, Jeff Garcia. This would be highly entertaining. This game also finishes up our run through the NFC East. I don’t think it’s going to go well for us. Chances of winning 25%.
Week 6. Carolina Panthers
I can honestly say that Carolina looked absolutely horrible in their week one loss to Philly. Not only did Delhomme get benched (He has 11 turnovers in his past two games, for those of you keeping track at home) but the defense failed to impress as well. There are already rumblings that John Fox may be on his way out, and that Bill Cowher, whose family lives in the N.C. area, would like his job. Carolina has never had back to back winning seasons in the history of the franchise. Why start now? Chances of winning 66%
Week 7. New England Patriots (in London)
As long as Tom Brady has managed to stay healthy this long into the season, I don’t think it looks good for our Bucs in this one boys and girls. The most potent offense in the NFL was nearly shell shocked by the lowly Bills in Week 1. Did you see how easily they scored once the pressure was on though? Brady has too many weapons for us. I am interested to see how Aqib Talib matches up with Randy Moss though. This will be a great test of his talent and skills. I suppose it’s possible that New England’s entire roster could suffer a severe case of jet lag, but that’s the only way I see us winning this one. I also think it’s ridiculous that we are forced to give up a home game to play in London, England. Screw you Mr. Schedule Maker, just screw you.
Week 9. Green Bay
Coming off the bye week I think we have a much better shot to win this game than you may think. Green Bay looked impressive in Week 1. By this point in the season they are likely to be in a very close division race with Minnesota, and perhaps even Chicago (If Jay Cutler can start throwing to the right color jerseys). This will probably be a must win for them. We are likely to be 2-5 at this point, and many fans will already be calling for Jim Bates’ head. Green Bay brings a dynamic passing attack with them into Tampa. The Rodgers to Jennings connection is quickly becoming the most exciting QB/receiver duo since Manning/Harrison. Chances of winning 33%
Week 10. @Miami
Miami looked horrible in their week 1 loss to our division rival Atlanta. Perhaps Chad Pennington has finally reached the end of his rope as an NFL QB. The wildcat also did not work at all in their season debut. In my opinion Miami benefited immensely by having the easiest schedule last year and they are likely to be joining Buffalo in the AFC East basement again this season. I think we should be able to easily move the ball against them. Chances of winning 60%
Week 11. New Orleans
I have to admit, I was just as impressed as everyone else that Drew Brees opened up the season by throwing 6 TD’s. He is likely to challenge Marino’s record for yardage in one season once again. Hell, with another couple of games like that, he is likely to challenge Brady’s record for most TD’s in a season. Unfortunately for him though, they only get to play the Detroit Lions once. I am very worried about the Saints passing proficiency against our weak secondary; however, they should be worrying about the same thing. Their defense looked horrible in that game. They gave up 27 points to the Lions, who in case you haven’t heard, are starting their rookie QB. I’m sure many of you will disagree with me, but I liked what I saw from our offense in Week 1. I think we can run with the Saints. Chances of winning 49%
Week 12. @ Atlanta
The new darlings of the NFC South looked good in Week 1. Michael “Burner” Turner is one of the top 5 backs in the NFL and the new addition of Tony Gonzalez (who caught two TD’s in his ATL debut) will help prevent the sophomore slump of Matt Ryan. The Falcon’s defense also impressed me in Week 1. A group that lost many veterans in exchange for youth seemed to be better for it (kind of the exact opposite of the Bucs). I expect Atlanta to give New Orleans all they can handle for the NFC South crown this season. With all that being said, I still like how our Bucs match up against them for some reason that I just can’t put my finger on. Chances of winning 45%
Week 13. @ Carolina
Well, I don’t think either of these two teams will have much to play for other than respect at this point of the season (and who will have a higher draft pick). I do realize that I’m being a little hard on Carolina after such a disastrous Week 1, but who is going to take Delhomme’s place? A.J. Feeley? Matt Moore? Puhlease. They do have a great rushing attack with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart, but then again, so do we. Chances of winning 66%
Week 14. NY Jets
Rex Ryan’s new and improved defense comes to town. If Week 1 was any indication of how well these guys can play, then we should be very worried. They absolutely blanked a talented Houston Texans offense and made fantasy superstars Matt Schaub, Steve Slaton, and Andre Johnson look exceptionally average. I’m not quite sure what to make of their rookie pretty boy from USC quite yet. He had a decent game in Week 1. I’m interested to see how he reacts once he has taken some licks. By this point he is likely to have hit the proverbial “rookie wall” and it may very well give the Bucs a late season win. Depending upon whether or not the Jets are in a playoff race at this point should decide the outcome of this one. Chances of winning 50%
Week 15. @ Seattle
In case it wasn’t bad enough we had to fly to London, Mr. Schedule Maker decided to bend us over one last time and fly the team out to Seattle 4 days before Christmas. Seattle looked good in Week 1, but it is hard to tell how good they really are because of how bad the Rams looked. So far Seattle has allowed zero points this season. Is there defense really that improved? They also ran some neat little gimmick plays with Seneca Wallace. Matt Hasselbeck seems to be healthy once again and that always makes Seattle a contender in the perpetually piss poor NFC West. They may even be sitting back and resting on their laurels by this point. If they are in a playoff race look for the Bucs to falter yet again. Chances of winning 33%
Week 16. @ New Orleans
The Bucs take a trip down to the big easy two days after Christmas to once again face the pass happy New Orleans Saints. If the Saints have somehow managed to tighten up their defense at this point they are likely in playoff contention with the Falcons. The Bucs always seem to give N.O. a run for their money though, and ruining a division rival’s playoff hopes may be just the medicine we need heading into the offseason. Chances of winning 45%
Week 17. Atlanta
Matt Ryan and the gang come to Ray Jay for the final game of the season. They will probably be sitting their starters if my prognostications above prove correct. This should make for an easy win for the Bucs. At this point I am already clamoring for us to draft a safety in the 2010 draft. I really like that Eric Berry kid from UT, but who doesn’t? I think he would look great in a Bucs uniform. What about you guys? Chances of winning 70%.
Well, as you can see my initial guesstimate of six wins has been culled considerably. I now think that the Bucs will finish the 2009 season with 2-4 wins. That makes me very depressed to write that, but you’ve got to go with your gut. Well, I’m sure many of you are going to disagree with me on these games, but please keep in mind that this is all just conjecture, and it’s all in good fun. I will still be rooting the Bucs on every Sunday and screaming at the T.V. like the rest of you for the remainder of the season. As the famous saying goes “That’s why they play the games”.