Games are played on grass not paper
If you believe what you read in some magazines and on various websites, there is not a lot of point in the Bucs turning up this Sunday against Cleveland or any other week this season. Sports Illustrated has Tampa winning two games, Pro Football Weekly has the Bucs down to finish last, even Horny Donkey Monthly predicts a losing season for Raheem's team.

Well have I got news for you. Football is not played on paper and there is no such thing as a sure thing in this sport. Otherwise, what would be the point?

Pre-season is of course a time for predictions and expectations. Think back seven years to 2003. The Bucs were coming off a Super Bowl victory, their defense was totally dominant and the off-season had been spent with pundits around the NFL blowing smoke up their asses over how good Jon Gruden's team would be for years to come. Every publication went overboard about a return Super Bowl trip and 7-9 and no playoffs was the result.

The long off-season means that your lasting memory is the final one of the previous season. So the New Orleans Saints right now look totally unbeatable, Drew Brees is the greatest passer who ever lived and the Vince Lombardi Trophy should be re-named after Sean Payton because he is obviously that great a coach.

How about December last year when the Bucs went into the Superdome to play the 84-1 Saints or whatever they were at the time. Who won? As Chris Berman always tells us, "that's why we play the game".

And you can throw that whole "strength of schedule" baloney out at the same time. That is based on LAST SEASON boys and girls. We are now in THIS SEASON. I still remember people forseeing doom and gloom at the start of 2007 when they looked at the Bucs' early season opponents and predicted at 0-5 start. Yes, that's you Ian Beckles.

Buccaneer fans will always have a rose-tinted view on how their team will perform over the next few months. Potential outweighs reality, you always expect improvement and other teams never look as good as they should. So you expect maybe better than you should.

What it means is that you really cannot put too much stock in all these predictions. Yes the Saints will probably be better than the Lions, the Colts better than the Rams, and just maybe Philip Rivers will outplay Sam Bradford. All I care about is will the Bucs be better than the Browns on Sunday. And as a real fan, I believe yes they will be.

You've been great, enjoy Brother Beyond.