While the world continues to glow in the euphoria of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' postseason heroics, there have been 'bold predictions' flying around the football landscape suggesting the defending champions will lead the league in offense, in defense, go 17-0, and win the Super Bowl once again.
What gets lost in the aftermath of Tom Brady's history-making achievements is that the NFL is an ever-turning machine. This Buccaneers side were 7-5 before their Week 13 bye in 2020. They made the necessary adjustments, got healthier, and went 4-0 to clinch a wildcard spot. Then Brady produced his magic in the playoffs.
Nobody should overlook a loaded Tampa Bay roster that is stacked on both sides of the ball. There's every chance this team will be a contender again – but it may not be so easy. Every team resets in Week 1. The cogs start turning again.
3 bold predictions for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
#1 - The Bucs will not have a winning record going into their Week 9 bye
With all of the uncertainty that Week 1 brings, facing the Dallas Cowboys and a returning Dak Prescott is no lay-up. Atlanta at home in Week 2 with an extra three days to prepare should be easier, but then the Buccaneers go on the road to face the Matthew Stafford-powered Los Angeles Rams and then what is certain to be a highly-charged Gillette Stadium homecoming for TB12 in Week 4.
The New England Patriots are the only NFL team that Tom Brady has never beaten and it will stay that way, with Bill Belichick and Mac Jones finding a way to win in Foxborough. It's the Miami Dolphins at home and the Philadelphia Eagles away, before the Buccaneers face the Chicago Bears – who they lost to in 2020 – and the New Orleans Saints on the road. A tough run, and a slow start.
#2 - Buccaneers defense to lead the league in sacks
One strength the Buccaneers have, which cannot be ignored, is their pass rush. Names like Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh apply pressure from the front, while Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett come off the edge, and Devin White lay in wait. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles' charges are definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Tampa Bay was fifth in sacks in 2020, eight behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and five behind the Los Angeles Rams. It would be a huge leap to out-sack those monster defenses, but a pair of rookies could be key in taking the Buccaneers to another level. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and K.J. Britt could be playmakers from day one.
#3 - Antonio Brown to lead the team in receiving yards
Other than Rob Gronkowski, there cannot be anyone on this Buccaneers line-up that Tom Brady has a closer relationship with than Antonio Brown. Brady lobbied hard to get Brown signed to the team. Brown even lived with Brady during the wide receiver's short stint in New England.
Back in his Steelers days, Brown claimed more than 100 catches for six straight years between 2013 and 2018. In the two years since leaving Pittsburgh, Brown has less than 50 total catches. However, with Mike Evans often attracting extra attention due to his brilliance in single coverage, and Chris Godwin's tendency to blow hot and cold, Brown can light it up after a solid preseason in a settled environment.
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