Will the Buccaneers be Contenders or Struggle in 2021?

A lot of people are looking at the previous season’s Super-Bowl-winning team and think they’ll have a down year. They had an impressive season last year, but with all the changes in the NFL, could see themselves struggling?

Let’s look towards their 2021 season and if they will be in contention or not.

Five factors to consider:

  1. Second-favorites by Las Vegas Oddsmakers
  2. Tom Brady is another year older
  3. Bucs may have the No. 1 defense in the league
  4. The schedule is not overly difficult
  5. NFC South gives them a clear path to the playoffs.

What About The Super Bowl?

President Joe Biden, surrounded by members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, poses for a photo holding a jersey during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, where Biden honored the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their Super Bowl LV victory. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, right, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians look on. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are second to only the Kansas City Chiefs, favored by the NFL odds of +550 to repeat as Super Bowl champions in 2022. The Kansas City Cheifs are the odds-on favorites at +460. And the next closest team behind the TB Bucs is the Buffalo Bills, who have much longer odds at +1100.

Additionally, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the odds-on favs to win the NFC. This means that we very well could see a repeat of last year’s final game of the season, with the Bucs and the Chiefs duking it out again.

So, our first consideration is to follow the money and take into account what the experts in Las Vegas think. Well, they think the Buccaneers have the second-best chance at winning the Super Bowl this season. So, that’s a pretty scale tipping point that leans towards; the Bucs will be contenders side of the scale, and not the Bucs will struggle side of the scale.

Tom Brady is Ancient in Football Terms

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) works against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Tom Brady is older than me. Not by much, but at my age (42), the last thing I want is to be run down and smashed by 280-pound athletes. But Tom, who’s already 43 and will be 44 on August 3rd, doesn’t seem to mind. He’s still in great shape and probably the main reason behind the tin-hat conspiracies about Hollywood types bathing in the blood of children and drinking freshly extracted adrenochrome to stay youthful.

For Tom Brady, it’s just extreme lifestyle discipline. That said, his arm is aging, and he doesn’t have the big play, downfield power like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen. However, the Bucs basically have a veteran head coach out on the field. This guy has seen it all. He can read opposing defenses like no other QB in the league. Even on the sidelines, he can anticipate the opposing offense and relay that information to the coaching staff.

So his age isn’t a massive strike against him; that said, injury is a concern for a middle-aged QB in this league.

The Bucs Defense is Going to Be Elite

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, center, is tackled by Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebacker Devin White (45) and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, right, during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

All of the starters from last year’s championship team will return on defense this season. This isn’t just speculation, and it’s a proactive goal the Tampa Bay Bucs defense is aiming for.

“I think as a collective unit, we can get a lot better. We didn’t finish as the number one defense that needs to be our particular goal in totality.” — Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle.

The team isn’t just returning all of the starters; pretty much everyone on the defensive front is back. According to Buccaneers.com, only 0.2% of the players that took defensive snaps are not heading into the 2021 season with Tampa Bay.

Last year, their run defense was monstrous, and their overall scoring defense was top 6. Now, they have another year of working together, and with essentially the entire defensive unit staying together, we should see a ridiculous amount of cohesion from the Buccs defense.

They may very well end up the No. 1 defense in the NFL.

Bucs Have a Mediocre Schedule

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates with Mike Evans (13) and quarterback Tom Brady (12) after Gronkowski scored a touchdown during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

I’ve always had a contentious relationship with the way top sports media outlets calculate the strength of schedule. A long time ago, I started doing the SOS based on what Las Vegas set each team on the schedule’s projected wins totals at. If you have a schedule loaded with teams predicted to have double-digit win seasons, then your schedule is probably going to be pretty darn difficult. This makes more sense than rating a team highly who had a good year previously but is going to suck matzo balls this year because they had a horrendous offseason. 

Well, lucky for the Buccaneers, their 2021 schedule is the 5th weakest in the league when based on their opponents’ projected wins. If you are wondering, the Raiders have it the worst, and the 49ers have it the easiest.

This, tied with the NFC South, gives them a clear path to a deep playoff run.

Bucs Have a Clear Path through the South

Former Bucs QB Jamesis Winston now the front runner to b the Saints QB AP/PHOTO

The Panthers are still in shambles. The Falcons are going to be ok. And the Saints, I’m not exactly sure about, but I’m pretty sure they are only going to be slightly above average. So, the Buccs are almost certain to get an NFC South division win, guaranteeing them a decent seed in the playoffs.

When we tally up all the facts presented here, I think it’s pretty clear. This is not going to be a year that the Bucs struggle. They will, at a minimum, make it back to the NFC Championship game.