Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2009 record: 3-13 (Fourth in NFC South)
Michael LombardiBuccaneers are extremely young and do not have the experience to play well for the entire season.
The number of field goals Tampa Bay kickers missed last season. The Bucs' 62 percent conversion rate on field goals was worst in the league. Given how difficult it might be for their young offense to consistently score, they cannot afford to miss that many kicks.
Morris' leadership skills were called into question after he fired both of his coordinators during his first season last year. His hands-on work with the defense during the final half of the season quited the critics, however, and showed that he had the tactical acumen to get the job done. Morris is expected to unveil a dramatically improved squad in his second year on the job.
Aqib TalibTalib is quietly on the verge of becoming one of the league's elite corners. A natural ball hawk with outstanding instincts and awareness, Talib has snatched nine interceptions in two seasons. Although he is most comfortable playing with vision in zone coverage, he has made tremendous strides in man-to-man and his improvement has allowed the Bucs to move to a more varied coverage scheme. With a legitimate playmaker in the secondary, the Bucs have the freedom to bring more pressure and force more errant throws.
A receiver to watch in TampaThe Buccaneers have never been known for their wide receivers -- Mark Carrier actually has the most receiving yards in franchise history -- but fantasy owners should keep an eye on rookie Mike Williams. He's a deep sleeper in an offense that could feature him.
Three pivotal games
Oct. 24 vs. St. Louis
Highly-touted rookie DT Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, will finally get a chance to take down "King Sam". Rams QB Sam Bradford, the top pick in April's draft, was teammates with McCoy at Oklahoma, and McCoy has said for months he is looking forward to hitting Bradford after not being allowed to for four years at Oklahoma.
Nov. 7 at Atlanta
Last season, the Bucs were swept by the Falcons and finished just 1-5 in the division. For Tampa Bay to make a jump in the standings and improve on its 3-13 record from a season ago, it must start by improving against NFC South opponents. After this Week 9 matchup, their third divisional tilt of the season, the Bucs should know where they stand.
Dec. 19 vs. Detroit
What better measuring stick for Bucs QB Josh Freeman, picked 17th in the 2009 NFL Draft, than Lions QB Matthew Stafford, picked first in the same draft. Both Tampa Bay and Detroit are hoping to take a major step forward this season, and this game will provide the Bucs an opportunity to see where they are in comparison to a similar team.