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The defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers are among the favorites to win Super Bowl LVI. That'll happen when you return all 22 starters from the previous season's roster, I suppose. The Bucs should be right in the thick of playoff and No. 1 seed race all season, but of course, there might be some ups and downs along the way. 

In the space below, we will break down every game on Tampa's schedule for this upcoming season, and give a final record prediction. The reigning champs' over/under stands at 11.5 wins, according to our friends at William Hill Sportsbook.

(Note: Over/Under win totals for every opponent are also courtesy of William Hill Sportsbook)

Need a quick betting primer on your favorite NFL team for the 2021 season? Here are links to schedule breakdowns for all 32 clubs.

Week 1 vs. Dallas Cowboys (TNF) 

Line: Buccaneers -6.5
Opponent win total: 
O/U 9.5

The defending champs get off to a good start to the year, holding off a healthy Dallas Cowboys team that has the type of firepower to challenge any defense in the league. Dak Prescott throws for two touchdowns and runs for another in his return from injury as Dallas puts 24 points on the board against Tampa's still-excellent defense, but the Boys' point-prevention unit has no answers for Tom Brady and Co. 

Prediction: Buccaneers win 28-24
Projected record: 1-0

Week 2 vs. Atlanta Falcons

Opponent win total: O/U 7.5

The Falcons can't move the ball against Tampa without Julio Jones, and the offense sputters to just a 17-point outing. Meanwhile, Brady continues his hot start to the season by finding each of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski for touchdowns. 

Prediction: Buccaneers win 30-17
Projected record: 2-0

Week 3 at Los Angeles Rams

Opponent win total: O/U 10.5

The dream of a perfect season on the way to a repeat Super Bowl title comes to an end in Week 3. Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey dominate their matchups with the Bucs' interior offensive line and Evans, respectively, and the Sean McVay-Matthew Stafford combination keeps the Tampa pass rush off balance enough to move the ball throughout the game. 

Prediction: Buccaneers lose 27-21

Projected record: 2-1

Week 4 at New England Patriots (SNF)

Opponent win total: O/U 9

Brady bounces back in a big win at his old stomping grounds. Bill Belichick shuts him down in the first half, but Brady throws three touchdown passes after halftime and Todd Bowles' defense clamps down on Cam Newton and Co. throughout the second half. In one of the most anticipated games of the season, the Bucs roll to a win.

Prediction: Buccaneers win 28-10

Projected record: 3-1

Week 5 vs. Miami Dolphins

Opponent win total: O/U 9

After playing against Belichick himself in Week 4, the Bucs have a bit of a tougher go of it offensively against his disciple, Brian Flores, in Week 5, but luckily their own defense makes things extremely difficult for Tua Tagovailoa and holds the Dolphins to just one touchdown and three field goals. In a game that ends up closer than many imagined it would be, the Bucs win again.

Prediction: Buccaneers win 20-16

Projected record: 4-1

Week 6 at Philadelphia Eagles (TNF)

Opponent win total: O/U 7

Tampa is really on a roll here, and despite allowing Jalen Hurts to rush for 150 yards and two touchdowns, the Bucs roll to victory against an Eagles team that is just not equipped to deal with all of this team's various weapons on offense. 

Prediction: Buccaneers win 31-20

Projected record: 5-1

Week 7 vs. Chicago Bears

Opponent win total: O/U 7.5

Tampa shuts down the still-Andy Dalton-led Bears offense and holds it to just 13 points, which causes Chicago to turn to Justin Fields the following week. Despite putting "only" 23 points on the board against this Bears defense, the Bucs are never really challenged.

Prediction: Buccaneers win 23-13

Projected record: 6-1

Week 8 at New Orleans Saints

Opponent win total: O/U 9.5

The good times come to an end with a loss on the road to a division rival before the Bucs' bye week. The Bucs hold a 21-7 lead at the midway point of the third quarter but a surprise onside kick from Sean Payton helps New Orleans tie the game, and then win it in overtime despite not being the first team to possess the ball. 

Prediction: Buccaneers lose 24-21

Projected record: 6-2

Week 10 at Washington Football Team

Opponent win total: O/U 8

In a defensive battle between two of the very best units in the league, the Football Team's front four dominates the proceedings, forcing Brady into two fumbles and an interception. Antonio Gibson gets loose for a long run and Curtis Samuel scores on a jet sweep, helping the Football Team overcome Ryan Fitzpatrick's erratic performance against Tampa's pass rush. 

Prediction: Buccaneers lose 17-14

Projected record: 6-3

Week 11 vs. New York Giants (MNF)

Opponent win total: O/U 7

The Bucs get back on track against Brady's old nemesis, as another one of his former assistant coaches (Joe Judge) cannot figure out a way to get a handle on the Buccaneers offense. James Bradberry locks horns with Evans and comes away unscathed, but the Giants have no answers for Godwin, Gronk, and Antonio Brown. Plus, Lombardi Lenny runs for 125 yards, his highest total of the season. 

Prediction: Buccaneers win 33-24

Projected record: 7-3

Week 12 at Indianapolis Colts

Opponent win total: O/U 10

Tampa loses a heartbreaker on the road in a decidedly strange game that sees the Colts score two special teams touchdowns. DeForest Buckner gets quick pressure on Brady on a last-ditch drive with 30 seconds left, causing his pass intended for Cameron Brate to pop up in the air and fall into he hands of Kenny Moore, who ends the game with an interception. 

Prediction: Buccaneers lose 24-23

Projected record: 7-4

Week 13 at Atlanta Falcons

Opponent win total: O/U 7.5

The Bucs get their second 30-17 win of the season over the division rival Falcons, who still cannot figure out a way to get their offense going against Tampa's pass rush and still do not have the pieces to deal with Tampa's weapons on the outside. Kyle Pitts scores two touchdowns, but the Falcons just do not come close to challenging the Bucs throughout the game. 

Prediction: Buccaneers win 30-17

Projected record: 8-4

Week 14 vs. Buffalo Bills

Opponent win total: 10.5

In one of the most exciting games of the year, Brady and Josh Allen go shot for shot all game long. The wide receivers on both teams dominate all afternoon, as Evans, Godwin, Stefon Diggs, and Cole Beasley all top 100 receiving yards and find themselves in the end zone at least once. The game ends in a Bills win because Buffalo happens to have the ball last. 

Prediction: Buccaneers lose 37-31

Projected record: 8-5

Week 15 vs. New Orleans Saints (SNF)

Opponent win total: O/U 9.5

Tampa gets revenge on New Orleans for the loss back in Week 8, and re-establishes control of the NFC South lead with a decisive victory that only winds up looking close because the Saints put a garbage-time touchdown on the board. Alvin Kamara gets bottled up and totals only 50 yards on the ground and through the air combined, while Jason Pierre-Paul gets a strip-sack on Jameis Winston that results in a Devin White touchdown. 

Prediction: Buccaneers win 28-20

Projected record: 9-5

Week 16 at Carolina Panthers

Opponent win total: O/U 7.5

The Bucs get back-to-back wins for the first time since Weeks 6 and 7, and jump back into the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Tampa's offensive line completely shuts down Brian Burns, Hasson Reddick, and Derrick Brown, allowing Brady plenty of time to throw and both Fournette and Ronald Jones have plenty of room to run. Sam Darnold doesn't quite see ghosts, but he doesn't exactly shine against the tough Tampa defense, either. 

Prediction: Buccaneers win 35-20

Projected record: 10-5

Week 17 at New York Jets

Opponent win total: O/U 6

Tampa rolls to an easy victory against an out-talented and outclassed Jets team, setting the stage for a Week 18 where the Bucs are one of three teams that has a shot at the top seed in the conference and a first-round bye. 

Prediction: Buccaneers win 24-10

Projected record: 11-5

Week 18 vs. Carolina Panthers

Opponent win total: O/U 7.5

The Bucs beat the division rival Panthers for the second time in three weeks, and it's just as easy a victory as it was last time around. Brady throws for three scores and finishes the year with 36 TD tosses, fourth-most in the league. Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett each have 2.5 sacks in this contest, and Barrett finishes the year with 19 quarterback takedowns -- second in the NFL behind only Aaron Donald. 

Prediction: Buccaneers win 27-13

Projected record: 12-5