All hail the orange creamsicle and red.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, now pewter and red, are a different team, a different culture and in an entirely different situation.
A situation fans and the franchise hopes is for the better.
Gone from the team is Ronde Barber (retired), Roy Miller, LaGarrette Blount and Dallas Clark. Welcome to the fray Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson and quarterback of the future, Mike Glennon.
The NFC South will be a hotly contested division where each team could make a run toward the playoffs. The schedule might not be as bad as it looks, but the Buccaneers will still be the second best team in the state of Florida.
Here are some bold predictions about the Buccaneers schedule for 2013...
September 8 @ New York Jets The chaos of New York welcomes the Buccaneers to MetLife Stadium. And the return of Darrelle Revis. It should be a wild time. Two dysfinctional as all get out. I like New York at home. Jets 24-18.
September 15 vs. New Orleans The Bucs cannot buy a break. After going to the Big Apple, they return home to start the home schedule against the Saints. The secondary will be very busy. Goldson, Revis and Mark Barron will be tested. Saints 38-16.
September 22 @ New England First the Saints and now the Patriots? Are you serious? The Bucs go from playing the Saints to the Patriots. New England will be a more grounded team this season. The Bucs interior line will be tested. Patriots 33-21.
September 29 vs. Arizona This is a bit of a breather, but by no means will it be easy. Carson Palmer can still sling it and Larry Fitzgerald can still catch it. The Cardinals defense is better than advertised. Bucs get first win. Bucs 20-17.
October 13 vs. Philadelphia After a bye week, the Eagles come to town. The defense is learning a new 3-4 defense and the offense is learning Chip Kelly’s system. The Eagles still have Mike Vick, but the Bucs win two in a row. Bucs 16-13.
October 20 @ Atlanta This will be a close game or a blow out. The Buccaneers always play Atlanta tight. Matt Ryan is armed with a new contract. Does it translate to a huge season? The Bucs defense is torched. Falcons 43-17.
October 24 vs. Carolina An early week game and a short week as well. The Bucs just got torched and now they face the Panthers with Cam Newton. Can he and Steve Smith work some magic? Panthers win 21-18.
November 3 @ Seattle This is one of those games where I will take the underdog. The Bucs get 10 days to rest and plan for Russell Wilson. The Bucs pull off the surprise. Bucs wins 30-28.
November 11 vs. Miami This is a game I have had circled for some time. The Bucs running game against the best defensive line in football. We might get a look at Mike Glennon this week if the Bucs falter. Miami 20-17.
November 17 vs. Atlanta Different location, same results. The Falcons still have one of the best offenses in the league. Matt Ryan uses the Bucs secondary for target practice. Roddy White and Julio Jones have huge days. Falcons 31-3.
November 24 @ Detroit Welcome to the Mike Glennon era in Tampa Bay. The Bucs are ready to start over and see what happens. Like before with Josh Freeman, the growing pains will be great. Lions win 31-20.
December 1 @ Carolina Carolina is establishing itself as a team to be reckoned with. But the Bucs tighten up and play defense they know how. Doug Martin runs through the Panthers defense. Bucs 23-14.
December 8 vs. Buffalo Former Seminoles standout EJ Manuel returns to the state of Florida. The Bucs show him how tough it is to come home and how tough it is to win in the NFL. Manuel has been good this season. But winning continuously as a rookie is tough. Bucs 22-16.
December 15 vs. San Francisco This might be the most lopsided game of the season for the Bucs. The 49ers are favorites to win the Super Bowl this season. 49ers roll. San Francisco 38-0.
December 22 @ St. Louis The Rams may be the most improved team in the NFC. If Sam Bradford and rookie Tavon Austin hook up early and often, it could be a tough day for Tampa Bay. I’m guessing the Bucs take it up a notch. Bucs 20-13.
December 29 @ New Orleans The Bucs saw them the second game of the season. Maybe Tampa Bay plays spoiler here. I figure the Saints are a playoff team. Whether they win the division or earn a wild card remains to be seen. Saints 29-15.