Should Winston Suspension Change Betting Outlook for 2018 Buccaneers?

Thursday, June 21, 2018 10:59 PM UTC

Thursday, Jun. 21, 2018 10:59 PM UTC

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will reportedly be without starting quarterback Jameis Winston for the first three games of the 2018 season. Let’s examine what that means with their Intertops odds.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, which was also the last time they won the NFC South Division title. Both are easily the longest droughts among South teams; the other three all made the postseason in 2017.

Tampa’s chances of returning to the playoffs this year have taken a big hit amid reports that starting quarterback and former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston will be suspended the first three games by the NFL. Winston, who got into some trouble while at Florida State (where he won the Heisman Trophy), is being penalized for allegedly groping an Uber driver in Scottsdale, Arizona, in March 2016. No police charges were filed, but the driver did file a formal complaint with Uber. The NFL has no problem suspending players regardless of whether they are charged or not.

Before this news, the Bucs had a win total of 6.5 at Intertops for this season and were +575 long shots to win the division. Needless to say, those numbers may change. Last year, Winston missed three games due to injury and completed 63.8 percent of his passes (career high) for 3,504 yards, 19 touchdowns and 11 picks. His rating of 92.2 was also a career best. He still turns the ball over way too much; Winston also had 10 fumbles.

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Jameis Winston would lose $124,000 in base salary for 3-game suspension with 2017 salary at $705,000; salary for next season scheduled to be $20.9 million, reducing the chance that Winston would consider appealing this suspension and dragging it out.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 21, 2018

His backup is veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was 2-1 (& ATS) in his three starts a season ago. Fitzpatrick was 17-for-34 for 187 yards, a TD and a pick in a 15-10 home win over the Jets, one of his former teams. The next week, he was 22-for-37 for 275 yards and two scores in a 30-20 win at Miami. His last action was Nov. 26 in Atlanta. The Bucs lost 34-20 as 10-point Intertops dogs and Fitzpatrick was 27-for-44 for 283 yards with no TDs or picks. He’s a solid enough backup. Tampa’s third-stringer right now is untested Ryan Griffin.

The bad news for Bucs backers is they open the season facing three straight playoff teams who all won their divisions and finished a combined 37-11 last season. Here are the matchups and their pre-suspension Intertops projected game odds. Tampa is the underdog in each, so it might well have started 0-3 even with Winston.

Week 1 at Saints (-7): Tampa lost 30-10 in New Orleans in Week 9 last year, which was the Bucs’ fifth straight defeat at the time. Winston left with shoulder soreness after the first half and didn’t return, although he nearly started a fight on the sideline with Saints rookie Marcus Lattimore. The Bucs are just 4-6 ATS in their past 10 as an underdog in New Orleans.

Week 2 vs. Eagles (-3): Only the defending Super Bowl champions. These teams haven’t played since 2015 when Tampa rolled 45-17 in Philly. Winston had arguably the game of his career, throwing five touchdown passes, tying an NFL rookie record. He also tied Steve DeBerg, Brad Johnson and Josh Freeman for the Bucs' record for touchdown passes in a game.

Week 3 vs. Steelers (-4): Monday night game. The Bucs are 2-8 all-time in this series but did win the last one in 2014 in Pittsburgh, although Winston was still at FSU then. Mike Glennon was the Tampa QB that day. The Bucs are 5-5 ATS in their past 10 home games as at least a 3-point underdog.

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