Most Crucial Game of the Bucs Season

Each staff member discusses which game is the most crucial of the Buccaneers season.

The Bucs head to Minnesota this weekend for their first preseason game of the season. While the preseason is important for evaluation, we are one month away from the game really counting.

In this weekly roundtable discussion, the staff looks into which game on the 2015 schedule is most important for the Buccaneers.

Kyle Marks (@Kyle_On_Scout)

Week 5 - At home against the Jacksonville Jaguars

At this point in the season, the Buccaneers will have played two divisional opponents as well as a rookie quarterback in Marcus Mariota and a team with no true quarterback in the Houston Texans. The Buccaneers have no excuse to not enter Week 5 with a .500 record. Why is this matchup against the Jaguars the most crucial though? Playing at home, the Buccaneers get a good matchup against second year quarterback Blake Bortles -- a matchup that this defense should take advantage of and should win heading into the bye week. A win here potentially means a winning record going into the bye and allows the team to set in and fix some minor issues they saw early in the year. A win in this game means a positive outlook for the rest of the season and it means optimism for the fan base. What would a loss mean? A loss means another bye week with a losing record, it means disappointing fans early on in the year after a season in which the team didn’t record a win at home. A loss here raises more questions and concerns about where this team is heading. A loss here could put Lovie Smith in the early season hot seat despite it only being year two into his tenure here in the Bay.

Gil Arcia (@GilArciaTBC)

Week 1 - At home against the Tennessee Titans

Winning or losing the first game of the year normally does not carry much weight. It doesn’t necessarily define a team’s season. But for the Buccaneers, it will. The game will be overly hyped and described as “Marcus Mariota vs. Jameis Winston” when in reality that is physically impossible. The difference is, from a mental standpoint, this is a pivotal game. The Bucs made lots of changes and added new pieces for this very moment -- the first game on the schedule. From the acquisition of offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to drafting Winston, the Bucs can’t lose this game on the field. More importantly they can’t lose this game away from the field. The draft debate throughout the fan base of whether they should draft Winston or Mariota divided the masses. Everything will be fine if the Bucs win. In fact they may even gain a bigger following. If they lose, well, the whole “they should’ve drafted Mariota” talk will surface if they lose to a team led by Mariota.

Justin Pawlowski (@CommishOnline)

Week 8 - Away against the Atlanta Falcons

The Bucs' early part of their schedule is significantly easier than their latter portion of the schedule. With games against the Titans, Jaguars, and Redskins, the Bucs should be able to get out to a nice start on the season. The difference between the Bucs being true contenders this season or having to wait until next season might lie on November 1st when they are on the road in Atlanta. Not only is this game a division game, but the schedule after this game is brutal with games at home against the Giants and Cowboys, and on the road against the Eagles and Colts. The game against the Falcons in Atlanta may just be the turning point of the entire season.

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