The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a habit out of shocking the NFL in 2020. At the start of free agency, they left the entire league’s jaws on the floor when they were able to lure Tom Brady to Tampa. From there, we all know the story. Not only did they find success, but they won three road playoff games en-route to a Super Bowl berth and became the first team in Super Bowl history to play the game in their home stadium. Against the Chiefs, Tampa’s defense suffocated Patrick Mahomes while Brady and company went on to win the franchise’s second title in team history. 

Now, they’re looking to do it again. The Bucs will enter the 2021 season trying to repeat as champions, a feat that hasn’t been done since Brady’s Patriots climbed the mountain in back-to-back years in 2003 and 2004. While it’s a tough thing to accomplish, the Bucs do have a strong case of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy yet again. Below, we’ll highlight three main reasons why the Buccaneers will repeat as Super Bowl champions this season. 

Continuity

The overall theme of the Buccaneers’ mission statement this offseason was continuity. They went into free agency with the goal of keeping their championship core intact and they did so splendidly. Tampa Bay retained all 22 starters from that Super Bowl-winning team in 2020 along with a number of role players. That makes them the first team in the salary cap era (since 1994) to bring back all 22 starters from the previous championship season. The last team to return their Week 1 starters from a Super Bowl-winning season was the 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers, who just so happened to repeat as champions. This 2021 Bucs team knows exactly what it takes to be a champion and should be able to lean on that experience through this coming year. 

Favorable schedule

Typically, what makes repeating difficult is the regular-season schedule. Under more traditional circumstances, the Super Bowl champion likely finished in first place in their division, meaning they’d be handed a first-place schedule for the following year. However, the Bucs did not win the NFC South in 2020. That honor went to the New Orleans Saints, who Tampa Bay knocked out of the Divisional Round. 

Because they were second in the NFC South, they will square up against other teams who also finished second in their respective divisions in 2020 (along with whichever divisions are slated to face the NFC South this year). Instead of playing the Packers, Titans, and Seahawks in 2021, the Bucs will play the Rams, Bears, and Colts. With that in mind, it’s not surprising to see the Buccaneers have the fourth-easiest schedule in the NFL this coming season when factoring in strength of schedule. 

In all, Tampa Bay’s upcoming opponents had a combined winning percentage of just .465 in 2020. Not too bad when you consider the Bucs will be vying for the top seed in the NFC and the lone first-round bye in the conference. 

Tom Brady will be better in Year 2

Because he was able to win his seventh Super Bowl (first with the Bucs) last season, I think there’s a bit of a misconception that Tom Brady has already peaked with Tampa Bay. I’d argue otherwise. The beginning of 2020 was a bumpy road for Brady and his new team as the legendary quarterback was still trying to figure his way through this latest chapter in his career. By the tail end of the season and into the playoffs, however, Brady and the offense clicked. 

Over his final nine games of the 2020 season (including playoffs), Brady completed 64.1% of his passes for 2,739 yards, 25 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. If you project that out over a 17-game regular season, Brady’s looking at over 5,100 yards passing and around 47 passing touchdowns. If Brady can improve from Year 1 to Year 2 in Tampa Bay — almost in a similar fashion Peyton Manning did in his second season with the Broncos — the Bucs will be that much more dangerous.