The highly anticipated 2020 season for the Buccaneers comes with a gauntlet of very good players. Here are the best players the Bucs will face each week.
Week 1: Marshon Lattimore
The Saints’ roster is littered with elite talent and cases could be made for several guys such as Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, even Demario Davis or Cam Jordan. However, Lattimore is one of the better lockdown corners in the league and the job he and Janoris Jenkins can do on Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will likely go a long way in determining who emerges from this week one showdown victorious.
Week 2: Christian McCaffrey
This one was rather obvious as McCaffrey is arguably the most dynamic back in the entire NFL. Despite his unprecedented ability to both run the football and catch it out of the backfield, the Bucs actually did about as good of a job as anybody in containing him a season ago. Todd Bowles should make that priority number one again in this week two tilt if Tampa Bay hopes to win this divisional matchup.
Week 3: Von Miller
The Broncos offense seems to be on the rise but they still possess one of the league’s most dangerous pass rushers. I was tempted to take another guy on the defensive ball in safety Justin Simmons but went with the more household name in Miller. Keeping the eight-time Pro Bowler off of Tom Brady will be key for the Bucs offense.
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Week 4: Derwin James
Another situation where there are several options especially after the chatter we heard from Keenan Allen directed at Evans and Godwin. However, there is a connection to James as well as the Bucs passed on him when they drafted Vita Vea. Fast forward a couple of seasons and despite some injuries, Derwin has become one of the best safeties in the game and TB12 will have to be aware of him at all times in this one.
Week 5: Khalil Mack
Tampa Bay will be going against some elite edge rushers early in the season as talked about Miller, then Joey Bosa of the Chargers but there are none better than Mack. He is as dominant as any pass rusher there is in football and it will be a tall task for Donovan Smith and rookie Tristan Wirfs to keep him out of the Buccaneer backfield.
Week 6: Aaron Rodgers
While I nearly selected his go-to receiver in Davante Adams, it was too hard to not take Rodgers. He remains of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks and after Green Bay spent their first-round pick on Jordan Love, he should be playing with a chip on his shoulder this season. That is a scary idea for opposing defenses.
Week 7: Trent Brown
With some young and unproven guys all over the Raider roster, I went with one of the top offensive tackles in football. After signing a monster contract a few seasons ago, the former Florida Gator has lived up to it and it should be a very intriguing matchup to see him take on the reigning sack champion in Shaq Barrett.
Week 8: Saqoun Barkley
We talked about McCaffrey as NFL’s most dynamic back but Barkley is right there with him. The development of Daniel Jones should benefit Saqoun in the sense it will balance the offense and he will be seeing a lot less loaded boxes. Regardless, he is a nightmare for any defensive coordinator with his all-time talent level.
Week 9: Michael Thomas
As much as I wanted to leave Michael Thomas off of this list, he is still among the game’s premier receiving talents. I expect Drew Brees to continue to try to feed him the ball even with the signing of Emmanuel Sanders. This will be a great mid-season test for the young Buccaneer secondary to really see the growth they have made.
Week 10: Kawann Short
I was tempted to have McCaffrey twice on this list because I truly believe he is that good and that important to this Panther team. With that said, Short is still one of the better interior defensive linemen the Buccaneers will see all season. Along with rookie Derrick Brown, the Tampa Bay interior offensive line will have their hands full.
Week 11: Aaron Donald
Speaking of interior defensive linemen, the Bucs will get the league’s best in this one. There is nobody in the NFL as dominant to me as Donald is. He can make his impact in both the run and pass and it will be interesting to see how the Buccaneer protection and run blocking can hold up over the course of this game.
Week 12: Patrick Mahomes
Fresh off his half a BILLION dollar contract, the Super Bowl MVP should be playing at his elite level by this time. Mahomes also could have a slight chip on his shoulder this season after being ranked behind both Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson in the NFL list of the top 100 players. Another great test for the Buccaneers as a whole.
Week 14: Dalvin Cook
The Vikings to me have just about as good of a roster top to bottom as anyone so I could have a lot of different names here. I went with Cook who is another guy out of Florida State who the Buccaneers, perhaps, regret passing on when they took OJ Howard instead. Cook has mentioned holding out this season, but if he is playing and healthy he should be in that discussion with Barkley and McCaffrey by season’s end.
Week 15: Julio Jones
When the Bucs finally meet their divisional foe all eyes should be on the league’s best receiver in my eyes. Jones does not have a weakness in his game and has been known for some big games against Tampa Bay over the course of his career. This will be another terrific test for the Buccaneer’s young corners late in the season.
Week 16: Matthew Stafford
The Lions do not possess a lot of elite talent throughout their roster but I believe this will be an offense that puts up points on a weekly basis and that all starts with Stafford. He is a guy who has all the talent in the world but has been hindered by injuries and his supporting cast but nevertheless is capable of big-time games.
Week 17: Deion Jones
The Falcons have a very underrated core of talent across their roster and this guy is the leader of it on the defensive side of the ball. Guys like Grady Jarrett, Tak McKinley, Dante Fowler, and Keanu Neal are all uber-talented but the defense flows through Jones. We saw him end the Buc’s season in this matchup last year and simultaneously Jameis Winston’s career here and he must be always be accounted for.