Shooting the breeze with your colleagues by the water cooler can be a stimulating and entertaining experience, except during this time of year when we hear the same tired arguments:
"What will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' record be?"
"Will the Buccaneers make the playoffs?"
"Why won't the Buccaneers start Earnest Graham?"
Boring, redundant, and not as stimulating as it may seem.
Here are five intriguing story lines to help invite deeper conversation...
You're probably thinking: "Pass Brad Johnson in what? What could Brad Johnson possibly have on Freeman, other than a Super Bowl ring?"
The "Bull" actually holds a Buccaneers team record: most touchdown passes in a season.
Johnson threw 26 touchdown passes during the 2003-2004 season en route to a disappointing 7-9 record, one year removed from the Super Bowl.
Second place on that list? Josh Freeman.
Freeman threw for 25 touchdown passes during the 2010-2011 season.
Is two more touchdown passes such an insurmountable feat for the third-year gunslinger?
I have a feeling you'll see Freeman throw in the high-20s, low-30s this season, especially the way he has been gelling with his receivers in camp thus far.
The troubled cornerback has been a defensive phenom for the Buccaneers since his rookie season back in 2008.
Aqib Talib has the size, strength, speed and athleticism to be an All-Pro player, and he can even make the argument for Defensive Player of the Year.
Why? Look at the trend he has set: four interceptions in 2008.
Five interceptions in 2009.
And six interceptions in 2010, even after missing five games for disciplinary reasons as well as a season-ending injury.
If the trend continues, we may see Talib pick off seven or more balls this season and there will be no excuse as to why he isn't representing the Bucs during the 2012 Pro Bowl.
That is, if he keeps his head on straight...
This one almost seems like a no-brainer considering LeGarrette Blount rushed for 1,007 yards in 2010, and that was after appearing in 13 games, seven of which were starts.
The 245-pound bruiser proved naysayers wrong a season ago by working hard, playing solid football and keeping himself out of trouble.
Blount consistently made his own running lanes while dragging and leaping over defenders. The Buccaneers' 2010 success can be attributed to feeding Blount the ball, which balanced out the offense tremendously and alleviated any pressure Freeman felt of having to carry the team.
As long as he stays healthy, which is half of the battle, Blount ought to be one of the premier runners this season.
Blount loves the bulls-eye on his back. Doubters only make him run harder.
It's pretty hard to deny the influx of young talent that has been gathered around this Tampa Bay football team.
Wide receiver Mike Williams is primed for a Pro Bowl season. Guard Davin Joseph is considered one of the better guards in the league.
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy came on strong in 2010 before his season was cut short due to injury. There's no doubt the defensive end duo of Da'Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn are extremely gifted.
Freeman, Talib, Blount, the list goes on for the Buccaneers.
How many do you see this upcoming season?
As of right now, I'm going to say Freeman, Mike Williams, Blount, Joseph, McCoy, and Talib.
Is six too much? Who do you have representing the Buccaneers in the 2012 Pro Bowl?
Yeah, I know, I said a playoff prediction was tired and boring, but it's hard to ignore how talented and exciting this Buccaneers team is.
Why couldn't that have been the Buccaneers making an unprecedented, miracle run?
Alas, it wasn't meant to be, and the Packers won it all in the 2010-2011 season.
But that fire, that drive that allowed the Buccaneers to defeat the odds stacked against them, that same team led by Freeman and Ronde Barber, takes the field September 11th, 2011, and you can bet these Bucs will make noise in the NFC this season.