What does October hold for the 2-1 Buccaneers?
The Buccaneers have been off doing charity events, sporting events and some just having a well earned break during this bye week. They come back to a game week build up this week ranked as high as the 15th best team in football in some "Experts" lists, and regularly appear in the top 20. This is, of course, due to an impressive 2-1 start to 2010.
That is all very well but what can the Buccaneers expect in the month of October as they come off their bye week? The Bengals and Cardinals provide tough road trip while the Super Bowl champion Saints visit Raymond James along with the Sam Bradford-led St Louis Rams. On paper a tough month lies ahead but I fancy our pewter pirates to still be above .500 as we enter November.
10th October 2010 - Cinncinati Bengals
This is a very tough road game and will be a real test of our much improved defense against possibly the most potent attacking force in the NFL. Now fully stacked with Owens, Ocho Cinco, Caldwell and Cedric Benson running hard behind a good O-Line the Bengals seem sure to score point against the Bucs, especially now minus Tanard Jackson (well done Tanard).
With that in mind it would appear that if the Bucs are going to come home with a W its going to be all on the shoulders of #5. The Bengals D is ranked at number 9 so far this season (Bucs 19th) and so that in itself is not going to be easy. All in all I can see this being a bit of a shootout and the Bengals possibly just proving too much for the young Bucs. RECORD 2-2
17th October 2010 - New Orleans Saints
The Champ might be here but he is not the same Champ that was celebrating all the way to Mardi Gras in February. The Saints have looked anything but World Champions so far in their 2-1 start to the 2010 season. In recent years the Buccaneers have a decent record of surprise victories over the Saints but I don't see this being one of them.
The Saints are improving and starting to get back to the larger numbers of offensive yards of last year. The Buccaneers have major issues at Safety (thanks Tanard) and the Saints have a higher percentage of deep pass touchdowns than any other team. This alone could be the difference in this game.
If the D-Line can't get in Drew Brees face and stop him having time to watch Colston and Co get open down the field this could be a long day. Again Freeman will have his work cut out against a Super Bowl winning Defense that has been decent this season. I fear for us in this game and think we could be looking at a Steeler sized defeat. RECORD 2-3
24th October 2010 - St Louis Rams
This is where the we will really see how two of the worst teams in football a year ago have improved. The Rams have Sam Bradford who has looked good in flashes but has also looked the rookie he is. I like the match up that is on offer of our offense against the Rams' defense in this one and fancy us to really only open it up against the St Louis at Ray Jay.
I expect the Bucs to get the running game going and work off of that for some nice deep completions. I think the Buccaneers secondary will win the turnover battle as we get pressure on Bradford. I think this game will show both teams have improved but with the Buccaneers new D-Line quality and an ever maturing Josh Freeman have improved more. I think the Bucs move to .500 with a comphrensive win. RECORD 3-3.
31st October 2010 - Arizona Cardinals
I said at the beginning of the season that the Bucs would win seven games this year and named them. This was one of them. The post Kurt Warner QB merry-go-round in the desert continues after Derek Andersen beat out Matt Leinart pre-season. Their running game will improve with the return of Beanie Wells but I see enough gaps in their Defense for us to work underneath and pick up some nice yardage with the likes of Stroughter and Williams working over the middle while Benn and Winslow work the quick outs.
I see us being able to march down the field against this Cardinals team. On the other side of the ball I think they have a below-par O-Line and I expect to see McCoy and Co in the backfield all night long. If we can cover Larry Fitzgerald (and thats a big if) then I see the Bucs winning in the desert.
Furthermore I see it being reasonably comfortable. The Cardinals haven't replaced Anquin Boldin and Larry F is getting all the attention from defenses making it hard for him to be a factor. Bucs win again. RECORD 4-3
I might be right, I might be wrong, but I do think the Buccaneers will continue to improve in coming weeks on both sides of the ball. The big worries are unchanged in our relatively ineffective running game and lack of a safety partnership (cheers Tanard) but with a week to plan, scheme and disect the upcoming opponents I fancy Raheem's boys to do the business in October. BUT it might get worse before it gets better.