Buccaneers season prediction: 9-7

When it comes to predictions, I think a lot of people are selling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers short.

I’ve looked at their schedule and I’ve looked at their roster multiple times. These aren’t the Buccaneers of the Raheem Morris era or even the later stages of the Jon Gruden era. This team has talent. Eight players have been to the Pro Bowl. Besides that, there is a lot of other young talent. I see linebacker Lavonte David and safety Mark Barron as guys who could get to the Pro Bowl.

Every time I look at the schedule, I keep coming up with one record for the Bucs. I say they’ll go 9-7. I think quarterback Josh Freeman will play just well enough in a contract year that the Bucs will want to keep him around for the long term.

A 9-7 record would put the Bucs in a tie with the New Orleans Saints, according to my predictions. But I think only one of those two teams will get a wild-card berth. I’m saying the Saints will win the tiebreaker and go to the playoffs.

The Bucs just barely will miss out.

Predicted finish in NFC South: third