They play in a very tough division and conference, so Tampa will almost certainly have to win at least eight or nine games this season to have a shot. LVH Sportsbook in Las Vegas has them set at 7 .5 wins this season, with the ‘Over’ coming in at -140, while the ‘Under’ is priced at +120 in the NFL Odds. With the improvements they have made in their secondary, will Tampa push for the playoffs in the NFC, or will they once again fall below .500? We review their odds in search of winning NFL picks.
Looking for more info on NFC South team season wins? Check out our report!
The Bucs rank right around the middle of the league this season in strength of schedule, but the NFC South is no picnic, and every team in this division looks better than they did a season ago. The NFC South did luck out and get to play BOTH the AFC East and the NFC West this, which were two of the worst overall divisions in football a season ago. This is the main reason Tampa’s SOS is so good this season. They get to play five non-divisional games against teams that had a combined SU record of 31-48 last season.
The first half of the Bucs’ schedule is somewhat sensitive. They go on the road to New England and Atlanta in the first half, but other than that, Tampa has some winnable games in the first half.
Their second half is a different story. They play Seattle, Miami and San Francisco, all in the second half. These are of course on top of their three divisional games in the second half; two of which are on the road. I could easily see the Bucs starting 4-3 SU and then completely collapsing in the second half. Sure they should have one of the more impressive defenses in the entire NFL next season, but that side of the ball is not where my concerns are this offseason.
How do the Bucs' odds rank against the rest of the NFC South this season?
Tampa gets to go on the road to play the hapless Jets in Week 1 of the season, and the NFL odds favor the road Bucs at -1 .5 or even -2.5. The total sits right at 41. While the spread is a bit of a wash to me, I think the total might be showing some value currently, however not the game total, but the Bucs’ eventual team total. It should be around 23 or 24 points by the time kickoff happens in September, and even though I just got done, and will continue to harp on the Bucs’ likely offensive issues, I think they can score on an awful Jets team in this game. Look for the Bucs to have three or more touchdowns in Week 1.
The Sharp Pick
Beyond Week 1 of the season, I am concerned with the consistency of Josh Freeman. If he struggles, I doubt Greg Schiano will have much patience with him running the offense. He says that Freeman is the starter no matter what, but for a guy that didn’t draft Freeman, I find Schiano hard to trust. This team has many more players that are more talented than Freeman on both sides of the ball. While the potential to be a playoff team is there, I think Freeman will hold them back from that, as well as having a .500 season. Combined with their nasty second half schedule, I see the Bucs once again falling to that 7-9 SU range this season.
My Pick: ‘Under’ 7 .5 +120
Week 1 Lean: Tampa Bay Bucs Team Total ‘Over’ at Bet365