Let's take a look at the schedule:
Week 1, Sept. 8: Bucs at Jets: Darrelle Revis waited all offseason for payback -- and he'll get it. The Jets struggle to contain Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin, and the Bucs' defense forces three turnovers in the win.
Week 2, Sept. 15: Buccaneers vs. Saints: The Saints' defense gave up nearly 1,000 more yards from scrimmage than any other team last season. And that's before they lost defensive end Will Smith -- second on the team in sacks -- for the rest of this season. Sean Payton's return won't help that defense stop anyone. Josh Freeman leads Tampa Bay to victory in the team's home opener.
Week 3, Sept. 22: Bucs at Patriots: Tom Brady connects with undrafted rookie wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins for two touchdowns, and Tampa Bay can't muster enough points to hang with the explosive Patriots offense.
Week 4, Sept. 29: Buccaneers vs. Cardinals: Carson Palmer eclipses 350 yards passing, but it's not enough to beat the Bucs, led by Doug Martin's 120 yards and two scores. Tampa Bay wins by a touchdown.
Week 6, Oct. 13: Buccaneers vs. Eagles: Tampa Bay uses its bye week (Week 5) to game plan for Philadelphia's fast-paced offense, and Josh Freeman throws for 225 yards and three touchdowns. The Bucs win a close one at home.
Week 7, Oct. 20: Bucs at Falcons: Atlanta's Matt Ryan is 20-4 at home since 2010. Atlanta returns from a bye week (Week 6) to knock off the Bucs by a dozen.
Week 8, Oct. 24: Buccaneers vs. Panthers: Playing its third game in 11 days, Tampa Bay struggles to contain Cam Newton and Steve Smith in the open field. The Bucs lose a nail-biter at home.
Week 9, Nov. 3: Bucs at Seahawks: The Seahawks haven't lost at home since Week 16 of the 2011 season. Doug Martin keeps this one close, but, ultimately, Tampa Bay loses by two field goals.
Week 10, Nov. 11: Buccaneers vs. Dolphins: On "Monday Night Football," Josh Freeman shows America why the Bucs are for real. He's due for a big year. As I've said before, book it.
Week 11, Nov. 17: Buccaneers vs. Falcons: The Bucs have split the season-series with Atlanta each of the past two seasons. Josh Freeman and Doug Martin help extend that streak to three. Bucs move into playoff discussion with a two-point win at home.
Week 12, Nov. 24: Bucs at Lions: Tampa Bay acquired Darrelle Revis for this reason -- contain the opposing team's No. 1 receiver. Revis limits Calvin Johnson to 60 yards receiving and Tampa's defense holds Detroit to less than 40 yards rushing.
Week 13, Dec. 1: Buccaneers at Panthers: Tampa Bay allowed the fewest rushing yards per-game last season. The Bucs hold Carolina's dangerous three-headed attack in check, and avenge a Week 8 home loss.
Week 14, Dec. 8: Buccaneers vs. Bills: Receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams frustrate Buffalo's secondary as Josh Freeman records his fourth three-touchdown game of the season.
Week 15, Dec. 15: Buccaneers vs. 49ers: San Francisco's stout defensive line shuts down Doug Martin, and Colin Kaepernick finds Vernon Davis for two second-half touchdowns as the 49ers win a key game on the road.
Week 16, Dec. 22: Bucs at Rams: Doug Martin rebounds from his worst game of the season to rush for 105 yards and a touchdown. Tavon Austin excels in the return game, but it isn't enough. The Bucs take the game and clinch a playoff berth.
Week 17, Dec. 29: Bucs at Saints: In an offensive shootout, Drew Brees and Josh Freeman combine for 650 yards passing. New Orleans hasn't lost at home to Tampa Bay since 2010. The Saints keep that streak active with a 10-point victory to close out the regular season.
Tampa Bay enters 2013 healthier, deeper in the secondary, and hungry to prove the naysayers wrong. Will it? No one really knows. That's why they play the game.
James LoPresti lives in Tampa and has more than eight years experience working in the news industry. He has been published in the Tampa Tribune, and currently writes fantasy football analysis for The Draft Report. Follow him on Twitter @JLoPresti3114
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- Doug Martin
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Josh Freeman
- Darrelle Revis