It's Labor Day and I've been laboring over this one for the past two weeks.
Today we delve into the testy waters of what some folks term "predictions." Call it "guessing" because that's what it is, plain and simple.
The target is the 2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and there are a lot of question marks and uncertainties surrounding this football team.
How will these Buccaneers perform this season, starting on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium? Tell me how Josh Freeman is going to perform and that will make it a lot easier. Therein lies the trap. Josh Freeman. In his fourth year, it's still "all about five."
At the very least, Josh Freeman has to be a good quarterback for this football team to have any hope. John Lynch, after watching four preseason games as the analyst, told us Freeman has to "play great."
Freeman has weapons around him and no platform for excuses. The offense is lopsided when it comes to salaries; it is the unit that is going to have to carry this football team. Don't even start to tell me that this defense is going to be reliable. The defense will have its moments, good moments and bad moments and hopefully a lot of consistent "in between" moments: not good, but not bad. They don't need bad, as in 2011 bad. Speaking of 2011, we missed that one by a mile with a 9-7 prediction, er, guess.
We've stalled enough. Let's get right to the task at hand, game by game.
Panthers (home): The Bucs are a 2 1/2 point underdog. This is a MUST win game if this team is even going to sniff .500 this season. Bucs win a hard-fought one, 24-20.
How many games to you think the Bucs will win?
at New York Giants: Don't expect a win here. A "W" for the G-Men.
at Dallas: Bucs can compete; could win, but won't.
Washington (home): Must win. RG III has skills, but he is a rookie and you can't lose at home to a rookie quarterback.
Bucs emerge from the first quarter of the season 2-2. That would be nice.
Kansas City (home): Bucs can win this game, but may not. Chiefs in a squeaker.
New Orleans (home): Bucs will compete, but New Orleans still has too many weapons. Saints win.
at Minnesota: Must win. The Vikings still aren't very good and the Bucs take this one.
at Oakland: Another must win. Raiders are no longer "excellent." Bucs win.
Bucs finish second quarter of season 2-2 and are 4-4 at the midway point of the season.
San Diego (home): Could win, but won't. San Diego has more experience. Chargers win.
at Carolina: Cam Newton gets his revenge. Panthers prevail.
Atlanta (home): Will win in an upset. Bucs edge the Dirty Birds.
Will the Bucs have a winning record in the NFC South?
Bucs finish third quarter 1-3 and are 5-7 going into final four games.
at New Orleans: Can win, but won't since Saints are making a playoff push. Saints win.
St. Louis (home): MUST win. Rams are terrible and you have to beat terrible teams. Bucs win.
at Atlanta: Can win, but Falcons get revenge for earlier upset. Falcons win.
Bucs finish final quarter of season 2-2.
2012 overall record: SEVEN WINS, NINE LOSSES.
There you have it.
That's the prediction.
Okay, the guess.