Sure, optimism's high.
The Bucs worked their way from the dredges of 1-3 to finish the first half of the season 4-4.
But what's with all this "playoff" talk? Really, seriously?
Okay, yes, if you check the NFC, they're in the hunt, but Sunday's game against San Diego will go a long way to the Bucs staying in that hunt.
The Chargers come in with the same 4-4 record, and they're probably thinking the same thing.
What the Bucs are facing is what a lot of fans are considering a "very winnable" game, if you will. In fact, the Bucs NEED to win this game then take care of business against a bad but improving team at Carolina the following week. They need these two games because the next two against Atlanta and Denver are not what you would consider "very winnable" if you're taking a realistic approach to this football season.
This San Diego game could be the table-setter for a 6-6 record after 12 games, which again, should keep them in "the hunt" for a playoff spot.
So let's take a look at the next eight games and rate them in terms of "winability" by the Bucs.
How will the Bucs perform over the next four games?
San Diego: Very winnable, and they better win. What needs to happen is a repair of the pass defense, otherwise Phillip Rivers could have a lot of fun.
At Carolina: Very winnable. Again, they need to win this and get to 6-4.
Atlanta: Not very winnable. Too many tools, too much offensive power. Pretty simple.
At Denver: Not very winnable. Two words for you: Peyton Manning.
Philadelphia: Very winnable. This franchise is in turmoil, total turmoil. They're so desperate there's rumors they want to hire Jon Gruden.
At New Orleans: Winnable BUT.....couldn't get it done in Tampa. Saints are improving, don't see the Bucs winning this one.
St. Louis: Very winnable. So you'd think, but then again, the obvious can be obviously wrong.
At Atlanta: Same as before. Don't see it happening.
So, in a perfect, Buc-friendly world with the stars aligning, there are four, possibly five wins in these final eight.
That's damn optimistic, and there better not be one more key injury.
There you have it. It could be 8-8, maybe 9-7 at best.
It all hinges on Sunday, and any run, if there is a run, has to start with a "W" over these Chargers. Otherwise, all bets are off, and you will be staring at 7-9.