NFL 2018/19 Preview: Nightmare schedule puts Tampa in trouble

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NFL nut Kyle Brown (@Kyleianbrown) runs the rule over the regular season record market ahead of the 2018/19 season. 

NFL 2018/19 Preview: Regular Season Record

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a team a lot of neutrals fell in love with after being featured in the 2017 edition of Hard Knocks. They acquired a lot of talent, franchise quarterback Jameis Winston was justifying his #1 draft pick status, and they had big names in multiple positions across the board.

That all equalled a 5-11 record and this year I anticipate things will only go downhill from here.

But before I dismantle their hopes for the season, it is worth noting they didn’t have the worst off-season.

After finishing last in the NFL in total defence, sacks and third-down percentage, the Bucs spent the off-season rebuilding their defensive line.

In come Beau Allen and Vinny Curry from the reigning Super Bowl champions, as well as Jason Pierre-Paul from the Giants. Not to mention their first round draft pick (#12) was used on DT Vita Vea.Take into account they still have Noah Spence and Gerald McCoy, on paper, it appears to be a scary looking D-Line.

They also addressed their nightmare kicker situation, adding Chandler Catanzaro from the Jets who boasts a healthy 84% field goal attempt percentage.

They may not have a Super Bowl worthy team, but it’s not the worst the NFL has seen by any means.

Nightmare start for Bucs

Tampa start the season with the following fixtures: New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Atlanta. Four of those five teams are better than the Bucs, period.

The fifth team, Chicago, have an exciting head coach, a strong running game and a good defence. Given they also have home advantage, a Chicago win would not be a shock.

Now when you also consider that Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three of those games, a 0-5 record to start the season doesn’t seem too farfetched. I’d even argue that it’s the most likely scenario.

Next up they’re away to Cleveland and host Cincinnati. These two games will be pivotal. Lose both and the season is finished.

Dirk Koetter would know his time as head coach is probably over at the end of the season – if he isn’t fired mid-season – and some Tampa fans may even begin to question Winston’s status as the franchise quarterback. But win both and they may set sights at finishing 7-9 and sit comfortably in the middle of the pack.

Tricky tail end for Tampa

The tail end of their season includes: Carolina, Washington, New York Giants, San Francisco, Carolina, New Orleans, Baltimore, Dallas, Atlanta.

I think every one of those teams looks at the game against Tampa Bay as a game they expect to win. I don’t think anybody fears being blown away, and instead will look at it as a chance to grab a big win, inspire confidence and boost morale.

On their day, Tampa have the talent to win three, four or five of those remaining games – I don’t doubt that. But if they start 0-5 like I anticipate, and don’t beat both Cleveland and Cincinnati, I can’t see any scenario where by Week 10 they aren’t subconsciously thinking about tanking, with a view to getting the best 2019 draft position possible.

Lastly, there shouldn’t be a 0-16 Cleveland this year (or any team for that matter). The team with the worst schedule in 2018 may have found that record was only bad enough to be third/fourth from the bottom in years gone by.

So with their franchise QB suspended three weeks and a very gruelling schedule from start to finish, I believe Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have the worst regular season record and we can back that at 12/1 (Paddy Power).

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NFL 2018/19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers to have the worst regular season record (12/1 Paddy Power)

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