Strange as it will be to see, the greatest quarterback in the league's annals has decamped south, well, to the NFC South, for 2020. As entertaining and often frustrating as it has been to watch the Bucs with Jameis Winston joining an infamous 30/30 club, this year's edition promises to be far heavier on the intrigue at just what Tom Brady can do without Bill Belichick.
Mix in a global pandemic and a roster full of talent and there's not a more fascinating team to follow in the league. How will it all play out? Athlon Sports asked several experts how the season would play out and what the Bucs' record would be when all is said and done.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Game-by-Game Predictions for 2020
Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer)
The sight of Tom Brady in pewter is going to be super strange in about 1,000 different ways but will only enhance how fascinating this team is going to be. There's little question this is the best set of weapons the ageless QB has had to work with, but the OL is still a bit iffy and last year there were definite signs of him no longer being an elite guy. Still, there is a ton of talent plus a veteran head coach, so simply cutting down on the turnovers with this change under center can get the team to the playoffs. Whether Brady can get the franchise back to the Super Bowl still seems like a long shot, but I don't doubt we'll see a much-improved team overall in 2020.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
Anticipation is obviously high to see what Tom Brady does in Tampa Bay in Bruce Arians' offense and with the weapons he'll have at his disposal. And while it's pretty obvious that Brady is a huge upgrade over Jameis Winston, is the Buccaneers' offensive line up to the task when it comes to protecting the 43-year-old signal-caller? I think teams that can generate consistent pressure on the pocket could give Brady plenty of headaches. And on the other side of the ball, how much of an impact will Brady have on a defense that finished near the bottom of the NFL against both the pass and in points allowed last year? Sure, fewer turnovers could mean a huge difference but Tampa Bay can't pin all of their hopes on Brady. The Bucs should be much improved and will very likely end up in the playoffs, but I'm not sure the GOAT can lead his new team to a hometown Super Bowl.
Ben Weinrib (@benweinrib)
How much is the upgrade of Tom Brady over Jameis Winston worth? Quite a bit. Brady likely won't match Winston's gaudy passing totals, but he also won't turn over the ball so much. That really came back to bite the Bucs in one-score games last year — they were just 3-6 in such games a turned the ball over an egregious 22 times in the losses. Of course, Brady can't fix the Bucs' porous secondary (and the Patriots were so successful last year in large part to their dominant defense), but a full season out of Jason-Pierre Paul and Devin White and the arrival of Antoine Winfield Jr. should help all three levels. Expect a lot of high-scoring games and an outside shot of the Buccaneers becoming the first team to play a Super Bowl on their own turf.
(Top photo by Tori Richman/Tampa Bay Buccaneers, courtesy of buccaneers.com)