Sunday, January 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Will Bucs ever win? Search is on

As for me, I'm buying balloons.

And confetti.

And those little party hats.

Yessiree, Bucs coach Greg Schiano has promised a better day, and I tend to believe him. After all, you wouldn't have to stretch very far to imagine better days than these. The Bucs will be a good team, he said, although to be honest, he was a little short on information as to how that's going to happen.

This is good news, of course, because the NFL is filled with bad teams in cities where the coach is saying that, no, good times aren't coming and you might as well strap in for a lot more bad afternoons. Here, however, good times are just around the bend. Soon, someone will switch on a light, and the same coaches who haven't figured it out in 10 of their last 11 games will find a solution to losing, and by golly, the rest of NFL had just better watch out.

One question, though.

When?

I hate to be a nag about this, but it seems kind of important to figure out exactly when we should pay attention. Are we talking about a someday in the distant future when Wookies play defensive end? Will it be about the time of Enders Game, and if so, will the Bucs run an Ender-round?

Or might the Bucs actually win (gasp) this year?

And if so, and this is pushing it, but might they win again?

I know, I know. At times like these, you might swear the Bucs have the look of 0-16 to them. But over the years, the Bucs have looked wretched in lots of seasons. They've been 0-5 six times before, and only once did they end up winless (the 0-14 season of 1976). To be fair, however, they were 2-14 or worse four times.

But this is the NFL. Other teams have their own problems. Start with Sunday's opponent.

If it wasn't for the fact the Bucs lead the NFL in misery, well, you might notice that the Falcons aren't far behind. At 1-4, the Falcons are the league's most underachieving mess. This team was supposed to go the Super Bowl, remember?

Instead, Julio Jones has been lost for the season, and Roddy White is unhappy, and the offensive line is awful.

But are they bad enough to lose to the Bucs? I'm not so sure. Atlanta still has Matt Ryan, after all.

The odds of the Bucs' winning? I'd say 43 percent. (And when they play again in Tampa, I'd say it rises to 45 percent).

After that, the Bucs are at home against a Carolina team they beat twice last year, and you would figure that Tampa Bay will get some energy from a prime-time game at home.

Could the Panthers lose to the Bucs? Well, not if Carolina plays the way it did last week against Minnesota. Put it this way: Even after playing Adrian Peterson, the Panthers are third in the NFL against the run. That doesn't bode well for Doug Martin.

The Bucs' odds of winning? I'd say about 42 percent. (And 40 percent when the teams play again in Carolina).

Then it gets difficult. The Bucs have their most challenging road trip of the season when they go to Seattle for a highly anticipated yap-off against Richard Sherman, who will meet Darrelle Revis at the airport to start talking.

Sherman aside, however, the Seahawks are one of the best teams in the league, and when they play at home, they are even better.

The Bucs' chances of winning? Call it 18 percent.

The Bucs follow that with a Monday night game (really?) against the Dolphins. And here's an idea. As long as Warren Sapp is around to get praised, why not give the guy a helmet? Hey, he always did want to play quarterback.

No, the Dolphins aren't a great team, and they give up a ton of big plays. On the other hand, the Bucs don't make a lot of big plays.

The Bucs' chances of winning? 41 percent.

After that comes the rematch with Atlanta, and then a trip to Detroit, one of the early surprises of the league. No, I don't think the Lions will still be on top of the NFC North in late November, but with Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush, they could be a handful.

Still, deep down, Detroit is Detroit. Which is why the Bucs have a 41 percent chance of winning.

After a rematch with Carolina, the Bucs play against the Buffalo Bills and quarterback Thad Lewis. For crying out loud, could the Bucs even be favored for once? Could this be the better day that Schiano is talking about?

The Bucs' odds of winning? I'd make it 53 percent, and I'd suggest the Bucs immediately call this game "homecoming.''

Following that, the Bucs play at home against the 49ers. Granted, these 49ers aren't quite as sharp as the teams of the last two seasons, and they'll be playing three time zones away.

Still, does anyone want to bet on the Bucs?

Yeah, me neither.

The Bucs' chances of winning? Call it 24 percent.

Then come the Rams. Over the last two weeks, St. Louis has looked like a different team. They aren't world-beaters, but on the other hand, the Bucs aren't exactly the world.

The Bucs' chances of winning? How about 43 percent?

In the finale, the Bucs go to New Orleans, where they have played well for years. The question is how much they will have left if they are finishing up a bad season. Besides, it's always hard to beat Drew Brees.

Odds of the Bucs' winning? I'd call it 31 percent.

In other words, there are eight games where the Bucs have at least a 40 percent chance to win. If they can win half of those, which would be better than any of us suspect, they would finish 4-12.

As for the Bucs' better day? Who knows? Maybe it will be on draft day.

After all, what could go wrong then?

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