The first quarter of the 2012 NFL season is in the books, with the Bucs wrapping up their portion as one of eight clubs with a 1-3 record.
Their three losses—all against the NFC East—were by a combined 16 points. So much for coordinators Mike Sullivan and Bill Sheridan having "inside" information, huh?
The Bucs are in the midst of a three-game skid, and worse yet, have lost 13 of their past 14 games overall.
That said, how is the second quarter of Tampa Bay's season shaping up? That is, who are their opponents? How do they match-up against them? And how many games will they win?
The Bucs' second quarter schedule:
Current W-L Record
Wk 5: Bye
Wk 6: vs. Kansas City
Wk 7: vs. New Orleans
Wk 8: @ Minnesota
Wk 9: @ Oakland
Kansas City has been blown out in all three of their losses and currently rank 31st in points allowed (34.0 per game). However, they still present a challenge offensively, as they are currently ranked second in rushing, averaging nearly 175 yards per game on the ground.
While the Saints' record may be a bit of a shocker to some, what should not come as a surprise is the fact that their offense is still really, really good. They rank third in passing yards (320.8 per game) and 10th in scoring (27.5 points per game).
The Saints' problem lies on defense, where they allow more total yards of offense (463.2) than any other team in the league, as well as the fourth-most points (32.5).
Meanwhile, the Vikings are a bit of an anomaly. They have only forced five turnovers on defense and have the 21st-ranked offense, yet have found a way to win three times, including a convincing win over the heavily-favored 49ers in Week 3. Running back Adrian Peterson has been strong after returning from a devastating knee injury late last season.
And then of course there are the Raiders—the team that puts the "FUN" in dysfunctional. Oakland has allowed 31 or more points three times this season, having been outscored 67-125 in their four games.
Having said all that, I see the Bucs splitting the next quarter of the season 2-2, with wins over the Chiefs and Raiders. If true, the Bucs would end the second quarter of the season with a 3-5 record.
While the Bucs have played New Orleans incredibly tough in recent years (4-4 since 2008), I have a sneaking suspicion that by the time these two teams face in three weeks, the Saints will have figured things out and will put together a complete game against Tampa Bay.
Now in regard to the matchup in Minnesota, my logic is this: the Bucs are 1-9 in their previous 10 road games and will face All-Pro back Adrian Peterson in prime time on NFL Network. Peterson's bruising, downhill-style of running is the type that has traditionally given the Bucs fits.
If and only if they can keep AP from running wild do the Bucs have a chance of stealing a victory from the Vikings on national television.