Last Word On Pro Football is analyzing the schedules of every team in the NFL and ranking each game in order of difficulty (with one being the most difficult). This series will be split up into the eight most difficult games (ranked 1-8) and the eight easiest games (ranked 9-16) for each team. In this article, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers most difficult games are the focus.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Most Difficult Games in 2017
1. Week 12 at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons had a minimal off-season. However, one addition was long-time Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe. Poe provides a nice tandem with Grady Jackson as run stoppers to compliment their pass rushing linebackers. Dan Quinn, who made his reputation with the Seattle Seahawks, is building his secondary in a similar mold with the Falcons. Now just imagine if that Seahawks defense had the Falcons offense. All of this is why the demise of the Falcons is greatly exaggerated. This game is in Atlanta and the Buccaneers beat them handily there in the opening game last season.
2. Week 5 vs New England Patriots
If the Patriots have a weakness, it is the offensive line and the defensive line. The offensive tackles are strong, but the interior line feels weak. The defensive line is not overwhelming but they did add Lawrence Guy. The Patriots loaded up in the secondary after Malcolm Butler, ironically, was torched in the Super Bowl. The best addition on defense might be David Harris. On offense, Tom Brady might have the option of huddling with all wide receivers, all running backs or all tight ends. This game is awfully placed on a Thursday.
3. Week 4 vs New York Giants
The prize for the Giants was wide receiver Brandon Marshall who will complement Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants also acquired D.J. Fluker and retained John Jerry on the offensive line, which will be the key to the success of the Giants offense. Running backs Wayne Gallman and Shaun Draughn could surprise in the backfield. The Giants do have question marks at linebacker, but it might be irrelevant. They have Jason Pierre-Paul, Damon Harrison and now Dalvin Tomlinson on the defensive line. The secondary is deep with Landon Collins, Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple and now Antwon Blake, Duke Ihenacho and Jeremy Lane. This will be the toughest test for Tampa Bay’s offense.
4. Week 15 vs Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are so talented that the only thing that can hold them back is their state of mind. The Patriots deserve credit more than the Falcons deserve the blame for losing the Super Bowl. If the Patriots made one mistake during their rally, they would have lost the game.
5. Week 16 at Carolina Panthers
The Panthers already had a great defense and added Captain Munnerlyn and Mike Adams to a minor weakness that was the secondary. With the return of future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers the Panthers now have arguably the most complete defense in the NFL. Good luck trying to block their defensive line of Peppers, Mario Addison, Charles Johnson, Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short. Both teams could be playing with for a spot in the NFC playoffs.
6. Week 9 at New Orleans Saints
The Saints could be extremely close to being a top-tier team. They have loaded up the offense for Drew Brees at running back with Adrian Peterson, wide receiver with Ted Ginn Jr. and on the offensive line with Larry Warford and Ryan Ramczyk. Brees now might have the best offensive line in the NFL with Terron Armstead, Zach Strief and Max Unger. The defensive line should be great with Cameron Jordan and Darryl Tapp. The secondary is getting there with the additions of Rafael Bush and Marshon Lattimore. And playing in the SuperDome is always a circus for a visiting team.
7. Week 6 at Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals may have the best player in the NFL in David Johnson. He might be just talented enough to cover up the Cardinals flaws in pass protection and the lack of a reliable second wide receiver to complement Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals do have two productive interior linemen in Mike Iupati and A.Q. Shipley. They did lose a presence on defense in Calais Campbell, but they improved their linebackers with the additions of Karlos Dansby, Jarvis Jones and Haason Reddick and added to their talented secondary with Budda Baker and veteran Antoine Bethea.
8. Week 3 at Minnesota Vikings
Sam Bradford was an expensive first pick that didn’t work out for the Los Angeles Rams or the Philadelphia Eagles. But Bradford threw for 3,877 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions after being traded to Minnesota. The Vikings have two reliable running backs in Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook, two quality receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph at tight end and Laquon Treadwell, who is a physical stud. They also should have an improved offensive line with the additions of Mike Remmers, Riley Reiff and Pat Elflein. The Vikings have one of the best secondaries in the NFL and they have loaded up the defensive line. The only hole seems to be linebacker which was vacated by the retired Chad Greenway.
Be sure and check out the eight easiest games on the 2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers schedule.