The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a tough schedule in 2022, including an opening act including road trips against the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints, and home games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints
On top of that, the Bucs are also going to be without key players from 2020 and '21.
Guard Alex Cappa is in Cincinnati, safety Jordan Whitehead signed with the New York Jets, Ali Marpet retired, Jason Pierre-Paul may or may not find a home, Ndamukong Suh reportedly has suitors and there's a slim chance he still returns, and Rob Gronkowski continues to leave everyone waiting for his decision to play or not this season.
Even if Gronk returns and let's say the team and Suh make it work and he returns, there are some important players being replaced this coming season.
These two factors combine to make Vic Tafur of The Athletic believe the Buccaneers will not hit 12 wins this season and have a ceiling of 10 or 11.
"Well, we can’t count on Tom Brady retiring … and staying retired. But at some point, as this team keeps getting older, they are going to have to focus on staying healthy for the playoffs and not on stockpiling regular-season wins," Tafur recently wrote while evaluating over/under bets available for NFL teams in 2022. "The roster is not as good as it was in 2020. Not even close. The Bucs’ opening stretch of at Dallas, at New Orleans, Green Bay and Kansas City has me feeling pretty good about the Bucs only going 11-6 or 10-7."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Kansas City Chiefs
The eternal optimist in me wants to immediately debunk the standings prediction, and in fact, my own prediction has Tampa Bay winning 14 games - a result which still didn't make some fans of the team happy.
But there's no denying the rough road ahead, and a focused turn towards making the playoffs healthy over entering the postseason with as many regular-season wins as possible, certainly makes sense.
Regardless, 10, 11, or 14 wins puts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the mix for the next Lombardi Trophy, and we all know Tom Brady wants nothing more than to go out with another boat parade.