Ranking Bucs opponents from easiest to hardest
The Buccaneers will play an interesting assortment of teams in 2023. Despite playing a first-place schedule, many teams in their lineup are unproven and working through a rebuild much like Tampa Bay.
Here are all the teams the Bucs will play in 2023, ranked from the easiest to the hardest:
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The Eagles made some solid roster moves over the offseason and extended their emerging superstar QB in Jalen Hurts. The team also had a great draft that saw them take Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith out of Georgia, and the team chemistry they’ll have off the bat with other Georgia players like LB Nakobe Dean should help their young defense gel and perform up to standard. With weapons like A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith still there, Philly should be a team to watch once again in the NFC.
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The 49ers are always a pain in the rear to play at any given time due to the sheer strength of their roster and their (generally) skilled coaching. Quarterback will be the main issue for them in 2023, but Kyle Shanahan’s squad has proven that his roster and scheme is perhaps the most quarterback friendly in the NFL. Brock Purdy and company dominated Tampa Bay in Santa Clara last year, and they could do the same in 2023.
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The Bills won’t be Super Bowl contenders like they have been in years past, but they’ll still serve to be a formidable opponent. QB Josh Allen will look to return to 2021 form after an inconsistent 2022 marred by injury, and the Bucs will have to play the Bills in New York in October on Thursday Night Football. It’s likely this will shape out to be a tough one for Tampa Bay.
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The Lions enter 2023 with the burden of expectation, and they’ll do their best to meet it. Detroit had a big upswing in 2022 thanks to the efforts of head coach Dan Campbell, and many consider them the division favorite for the NFC North. Whether Detroit can live up to those expectations is another thing, but expect them to come into next season firing on all cylinders (or pistons, if you will).
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The Jacksonville Jaguars will likely only get better after winning the AFC South in 2022, and the Bucs will have to face them in Doug Pederson’s second year at the helm. QB Trevor Lawrence could only get better after his breakout year in 2022 and EDGE Josh Allen will still look to wreak havoc in opposing backfields. The team didn’t lose a lot of players in free agency, so the chemistry will still be there when the Bucs play them on Christmas Eve.
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The Vikings also have something to prove — that their stellar record mostly comprised of one-score victories wasn’t a fluke. Tampa Bay’s Week 1 opponent almost certainly won’t win that many games in 2023, but Minnesota still has a deadly weapon in Justin Jefferson and a QB in Kirk Cousins who can get him the ball. The Vikings will be a great litmus test for the Bucs to start the year.
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This is where the rankings are gonna start getting tough. The Saints get the benefit of the doubt with new QB Derek Carr and weapons like Alvin Kamara (pending suspension) and Chris Olave along with defensive players like Cam Jordan and Marshon Lattimore. However, coach Dennis Allen is entering a second year under scrutiny that could get bigger if the Saints don’t perform.
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The Titans are having an identity crisis. They drafted Will Levis at the top of Round 2 but expect to go with Ryan Tannehill, who is trying to recapture a good stretch of play from 2020-21. The team has no receiving weapons after A.J. Brown’s departure and the focal point of their offense, Derrick Henry, is getting older. The team could field a solid defensive unit, but it may not be enough to make them competitive.
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The Packers will play their first season in some time without QB Aaron Rodgers. The team has some decent defensive weapons like Rashan Gary (when he gets back from injury) and drafted EDGE Lukas Van Ness out of Iowa, but QB Jordan Love is a huge unknown and his best weapon to work with is second-year WR Christian Watson. The Packers may struggle to find themselves in 2023.
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QB Justin Fields remains a huge unknown for the Bears and WR D.J. Moore may not be the No. 1 wideout the team is looking for. Chicago has put some good pieces together on both sides of the ball, but it may not return to its glory days for quite some time unless Fields pans out like the Bears are hoping he will.
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With QB Bryce Young on one side of the ball and lethal OLB Brian Burns on the other side, the Panthers could be a good team. It will entirely depend on how Young plays in the NFL, however, and he won’t have any WRs to throw to in his first year with the squad. The Panthers are also in a new regime under Frank Reich, so it may take a while for them to truly be a threat.
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The Falcons have plenty of weapons with RB Bijan Robinson, TE Kyle Pitts and WR Drake London, but their trenches are questionable and QB Desmond Ridder is probably not the long-term answer. CB A.J. Terrell will be a force on the defense as always, but the Falcons will likely struggle in 2023.
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The Colts will have QB Anthony Richardson at the helm, but he is an inconsistent prospect who may need a lot of work in Year 1. The rest of the Colts roster is aging considerably and the team doesn’t have a lot of definitive receiving weapons to make any noise.
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The Texans are likely dead on arrival in 2023. New coach DeMeco Ryans didn’t vastly improve his overall roster despite two great draft picks in QB C.J. Stroud and EDGE Will Anderson, and Houston has a notorious short leash when it comes to first-year regimes. With no proven offensive weapons of any kind and a lackluster defense outside of Anderson, the Texans could be one of the NFL’s worst teams in 2023.