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Tampa Bay Buccaneers will win six at a minimum

Game Comment Score Record
Today vs. Detroit Normally, opening at home against the Lions would be a tap-in putt, a slam dunk, or whatever the football phrase is for a "gimme." (Actually, the phrase just might be "opening at home against the Lions.") Except this season. The Lions are everyone's chic pick for this season's surprise team. The Lions' road to recovery actually got underway last season around the time they beat the Bucs. Lions, 27-20 0-1
Sept. 18 at Minnesota Not sure how going from one old-timer (Brett Favre) to another (Donovan McNabb) at quarterback is supposed to improve things in Minnesota. Doesn't matter if the quarterback is Favre, McNabb, Joe Kapp or Fran Tarkenton. Why the Vikes just don't hand the ball to Adrian Peterson 40 times a game is a mystery. Bucs, 20-10 1-1
Sept. 25 vs. Atlanta If there's a team out there that could knock off the Packers as king of the NFC, the Falcons could be it. Then again, the Falcons, too, are starting to look like that frustrating team that pounds on the door for a few years but never actually kicks it in. In other words, perpetual bridesmaids. Atlanta is practically unbeatable at home. But this game is at Ray-Jay. Bucs, 31-28 2-1
Oct. 3 vs. Indianapolis Remember the last time the Colts came here for Monday Night Football? The defending champion Bucs blew a 35-14 lead with four minutes left and lost 38-35 in overtime on Oct. 6, 2003. Starting with that game, the Bucs went 10-19 over the next season and a half. The Bucs get some MNF revenge. Bucs, 38-35 (OT) 3-1
Oct. 9 at San Francisco The 49ers are in rebuilding mode under new coach Jim Harbaugh, but that doesn't mean the Bucs should write down a "W" in pen. This is, after all, San Francisco. The Bucs are 1-11 all time in that particular city by the bay, and that lone win was in 1980 when Doug Williams was the QB. Some places are just haunted for some teams. 49ers, 24-17 3-2
Oct. 16 vs. New Orleans For as good as the Saints have been the past several years, the Bucs have held their own against them. In fact, the Saints haven't swept the Bucs since the 2006 season. And since then, the Bucs have gone 5-3 against New Orleans. The Bucs will split with the Saints again this season. Here is the win half of the split. Bucs, 34-28 4-2
Oct. 23 vs. Chicago

in London

No team has handed the Bucs more losses all-time than the Bears, who are 35-18 against them. Of course, a lot of those wins were racked up in the days of Walter Payton and that ferocious Bears 46 defense in the 1980s. These days, Chicago's defense is good enough to win, even if quarterback Jay Cutler often has a hard time distinguishing which guys play for his team and which ones play for the other team. Bears, 21-7 4-3
Nov. 6 at New Orleans Lousy scheduling here, don't you think? Doesn't seem fair or entertaining for two teams to play each other twice in a three-game stretch. What if a team is missing a key player — say a Josh Freeman or Drew Brees — for a month? It doesn't seem right that such an important player would miss a short amount of time and yet miss playing a key division opponent twice. Either way, this series looks like a split in 2011. Here's the Bucs loss in that split. Saints, 30-17 4-4
Nov. 13 vs. Houston One of these years, the Texans are going to live up to expectations. They've had only one winning season in their history (9-7 in 2009), but they still haven't made a postseason. This will be Houston's second trip to Tampa Bay. And it will end exactly like the first visit. Bucs, 16-3 5-4
Nov. 20 at Green Bay Late November in Green Bay is not exactly picnic weather. Temperatures could very well be in single digits. Maybe a blizzard could dump a foot of snow. But even if it's sunny and in the 60s, that won't change the fact that the defending Super Bowl champs will be lining up on the other side of the ball. QB Aaron Rodgers can light up defenses like the Steelers and Bears. Imagine what he could do against the Bucs. Packers, 38-14 5-5
Nov. 27 at Tennessee The Titans are a strange team. When you expect them to be good, they're bad. When you expect them to be bad, they're good. Three years ago, they went 13-3. Then when everyone expected them to be a Super Bowl contender, they went 8-8 and 6-10. Quite frankly, I have no idea what they'll do this season. But they'll lose this game. Bucs, 19-16 6-5
Dec. 4 vs. Carolina Boy, the Bucs caught an unlucky break here. Instead of Carolina rookie QB Cam Newton having only a game or two of experience before facing the Bucs, he will have more than three months of NFL time. Still, as good as he was last year at Auburn means little to how good he will be right now in Carolina. There aren't any Louisiana-Monroes or Chattanoogas on the Panthers' schedule. Bucs, 27-7 7-5
Dec. 11 at Jacksonville Every year, the Bucs lose a game they are not supposed to lose. Last year, it was that home game against the Lions. There is no earthly reason why the Bucs should lose this game against a mediocre Jaguars team. Let's just call it a hunch. Jaguars, 23-21 7-6
Dec. 17 vs. Dallas Every year, the Bucs win a game they are not supposed to win. Last year, it was the season finale at New Orleans. There is no earthly reason why the Bucs should win this game against a much-improved Cowboys team. Let's just call it a hunch. (And for the Cowboys, it's a Saturday game sandwiched between two tough division showdowns against the rival Giants and Eagles.) Bucs, 30-20 8-6
Dec. 24 at Carolina Merry Christmas, Tampa Bay. And nothing warms the holiday heart like a visit from a rookie quarterback on a team going through a major rebuilding project. The Bucs are trying to sweep the Panthers in the two-game season series for just the third time since 2002. If they can't, then everything you've read so far might be off-kilter. Way off-kilter. Bucs, 34-13 9-6
Jan. 1 at Atlanta A victory here and the Bucs, according to our predictions, would match last season's 10-6 mark. But … winning at Atlanta has not only been difficult for the Bucs (they've lost five of the past six there), but the entire NFL. The Falcons are 20-4 at home over the past three regular seasons. The Bucs' playoff push comes up just short again. Falcons, 33-23 9-7

For the past four years, I've predicted the Bucs season game by game. For three years in a row, I picked them to go 5-10-1, and they finished 9-7, 9-7 and 3-13. Last year, I swore not to pick the Bucs to go 5-10-1. And I didn't. Instead, I really switched things up. I said they would go 5-11. The Bucs surprised most by going 10-6. So that brings us to this season. Certainly this team seems better than five wins. But can it match last season's 10-win mark? It will come down to the last game. But at least I promise more than five wins.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers will win six at a minimum

09/09/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:51pm]
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