The Bucs are 4-7 and headed to Green Bay, the start of what some project as the fifth most difficult remaining schedule in the NFL. So we gave our Bucs coverage team a chance to “update” their prediction for the Bucs’ final record.
Today's question: What was your preseason prediction for the Bucs record and what is it now?
L OF A SEASON
Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud: I picked the Bucs to go 9-7, the same record as 2016. The feeling was they could be better but it may not show on the W-L record due to a tougher schedule. No way you could see this coming. Jameis Winston getting hurt, trying to play hurt and likely hurting his team and himself in the process. You have to love his guts, man. I also never could predict a season ending injury to Noah Spence or Jacquies Smith unable to play. The result has been only 15 sacks for the year. I would expect the Bucs to win 2 of their last 5 games, but don’t ask me which teams they will beat. Prediction: 6-10
WHERE'S THE DEFENSE?
Greg Auman, @gregauman: I picked the Bucs to be a 10-6 team, making a modest improvement from last year’s 9-7 record. Like most, I thought the defense would be much more like the group that finished last season, rather than the lost unit that opened the 2016 season. Winston’s injury is a major asterisk, but the defense has fallen woefully short of what it hoped to be. How much better can they show themselves to be in these last five games? Prediction: 6-10.
A SEASON OF HARD KNOCKS
Tom Jones, @tomwjones: I bought into the preseason hype. I picked the Bucs to go 9-7 and make the playoffs. Worse yet, for my NFL picks, I selected Winston as the league’s “player on the rise.’’ That didn’t work out, and because of that, the Bucs will not go 9-7 and they will not go to the playoffs. I’m trying to find a game left on the schedule that they might win. I’m having a hard time. But I guess they have to win at least one. Right? Uh, right? Prediction: 5-11.
FROM RING OF HONOR TO RING OF FIRE
Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly: I believe I picked the Bucs to finish 9-7, but to miss the playoffs. I was convinced something bad would happen to keep them out. Well, something bad happened. I also thought they didn’t have a pass rush. I don’t know where I came up with that. Green Bay, where the Bucs play Sunday, is the only remaining opponent without a winning record. The Bucs will face division rivals Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans and they might all be playing for something. Jon Gruden will be inducted into the Ring of Honor on Dec.11. And then it’s back to the Ring of Fire. Prediction: 5-11
Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: I thought I was being conservative when I picked the Bucs to go 8-8, but it turns out that even that was an overestimation. There were red flags, particularly on defense. Tampa Bay didn't generate much pressure last season and allowed too many big plays. The Bucs entered the season with mostly the same personnel, so it's no coincidence they've continued to struggle in those areas. They have a shot to beat the Packers on Sunday, but after that, they face Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Drew Brees. None of the teams they've beaten this season have a winning record, so I can't see them upsetting the Lions, Falcons, Panthers or Saints. Maybe New Orleans won't have anything to play for in Week 17? Prediction: 5-11
REVERSAL OF FORTUNE
Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you: I saw the Bucs winning their last four to go 10-6 and earn a playoff spot. With three of those four at Raymond James, it appeared to be a possibility. I forecast Tampa Bay stunning its division foes, and I envisioned a shootout victory against the Lions. Yep, blinded by the hype. Now, they’ll be lucky not to lose five straight, and my annual eye exam with Dr. Stephanie Kirkland in January will be more probing than ever. Prediction: 6-10