Will the Buccaneers Go 0-16? Why a Winless Season Is a Very Real Possibility

Mike SalvatoreCorrespondent IIIOctober 16, 2009

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 20: Raheem Morris, head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, walks the sideline against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 20, 2009 in Orchard Park, New York.Buffalo won 33-20.   (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Typically, many 0-5 teams do not face “must win” games. These types of games are usually reserved for teams on the brink of playoff contention or trying to save a lost season.

Make no mistake about it, though: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are facing a must win game this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

As just mentioned, this is not a game that will have a profound impact on the Buccaneers' playoff chances. Their fate was sealed a very long time ago.

This is a must win game in the sense that if the Bucs do not win this Sunday, they might not win at all this season.

That’s right—the 2009 Buccaneers may very well finish the season 0-16.

I tried to be optimistic at the start of the season, I really did. I figured the team could pull out five or six wins this year. As the season has progressed, it has become painfully obvious that the team is simply dreadful.

There are a few bright spots.

The team plays hard for coach Raheem Morris, which for a young team in transition is a good sign moving forward. Cadillac Williams has bounced back from his second major knee surgery and been as productive as one can be on this team. Josh Johnson has proven to be at least a competent starter in the NFL.

I don’t really know where to begin with the negatives.

It seems every time I have watched a game this season, the Bucs spot the opposition a two-touchdown lead to start the game. The once proud defense can no longer stop ANYONE. With a team that doesn’t have that much talent to begin with, you can’t be forced to play from behind in every game.

Offensively, the running game has not been as effective as one would hope, mostly due to injuries on the offensive line. The Byron Leftwich experiment was a complete failure. Antonio Bryant (the nine million dollar man) also cannot stay healthy, and Michael Clayton has successfully robbed the team of 10 million dollars in guaranteed earnings.

Even with all these shortcomings, you would think that the team would be able to get it together to win at least one game. However, the schedule makers were not very kind to the Buccaneers this year, as they face one of the toughest schedules in the league.

After this week’s game at home against the Panthers, they must travel to London to play the New England Patriots before they have their bye Week Eight. To put it nicely, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell the Bucs beat the Pats.

After the bye week, they get the Packers, Jets, Saints, and Falcons at home and have to travel to play the Dolphins, Saints, Panthers, Falcons, and Seahawks.

Now maybe I’m just being a tad pessimistic, but I really don’t see the Buccaneers winning any of those games.

If the Bucs are unable to beat the struggling Carolina Panthers at home this week, then they may indeed be heading for a winless season.