The Buccaneers lost their first preseason matchup but are favored on the NFL odds board to bounce back when they host the Bengals tonight. Let's break down the numbers.
As of right now, the Buccaneers remain the favorites, as they're favored by either 2.5 or 3 points depending on the sportsbook you look over. A majority of the sites have the number at 2.5, however, so you'll need to jump on that key number of 3 quickly if you think the Bengals as underdogs are the right play.
Meanwhile, the O/U is trading at an even 40 points and looks to be holding steady there.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We got to see Jameis Winston take the field for the first time as a NFL player in Tampa Bay's preseason opener, but the Buccaneers faltered as a team in a 26-10 loss to Minnesota on the road. Tampa Bay put up 318 total yards of offense and allowed the Vikings to rack up 388 total yards.
A ton of people have been anxiously waiting for the number one overall pick to make his debut, and he looked solid, completing 9-of-19 passes for 131 yards and running for 18 yards and a score, though he did throw an interception. Elsewhere, Doug Martin and Bo Rainey both ran five times (for a combined 39 yards), while Louis Murphy led all wideouts with four receptions for 54 yards.
The regular season is fast approaching, so we're going to see the starters play even more here in the second game of the preseason, particularly since the franchise will want to get Winston as comfortable as possible under center.
While the Buccaneers ended up on the losing side in their opener, the Bengals were able to earn the W. They topped the New York Giants 23-10 at home, with a top-notch defensive effort (they held the Giants to just 224 total yards) acting as the catalyst for the victory.
Incumbent starter Andy Dalton only played one series but was very sharp, completing all three of his passes for 31 yards and a touchdown, which was caught by Mohamed Sanu. Once Dalton left the field, Josh Johnson (11-of-21 for 175 yards) and Keith Wenning took over the reps at quarterback. James Wilder Jr. got a majority of the touches out of the backfield, with starter Jeremy Hill logging just two carries, albeit for a solid 15 yards.
This appears to be a make or break season for Cincinnati, especially for Dalton and head coach Marvin Lewis, who have disappointed come playoff time. Still, the Bengals have a very talented roster, particularly with that Dalton/Green combo and the emergence of Hill as the feature back, so expectations will be high for the AFC North contenders again.
We're liking the look of this Tampa Bay team heading into the regular season; if Winston can hold his own and avoid a lot of major mistakes, he's got a talented enough offense around him that the Buccaneers should be able to score quite a few points.
Whereas the Buccaneers need to get as much familiarity together as possible with a new man under center, the Bengals know what they have and will just want to fine tune things and avoid seeing their top players get hurt (see Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin), making them a less desirable target with our NFL picks.
As you can probably tell, we're leaning towards Tampa Bay for tonight, and it helps that we can get a nice number of 2.5 still, which means the hosts winning by just a field goal would mean we cash. We look for Winston and the Buccaneers to pick up their first victory of the preseason in front of their home fans this evening.
NFL Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5 at 5Dimes