Rob Gronkowski and Bruce Arians are gone.
Brady’s retirement and un-retirement had massive effects on the odds markets, with his retirement sinking the Buccaneers and his return to the NFL boosting them to the second-best and best odds in the NFC.
Tampa bay is one of a handful of teams that can win the Super Bowl, and it’s easy to see why. Brady makes any team a championship contender, and he has a strong quartet to throw to in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Julio Jones.
AFC East Over/Under Wins Total: BUF | NE | MIA | NYJ | Division Odds
NFC East Over/Under Wins Total: DAL | PHI | WSH | NYG | Division Odds
AFC South Over/Under Wins Total: TEN | IND | HOU | JAX | Division Odds
The Buccaneers’ offensive line has taken a hit, especially with Ryan Jensen injured, but they are still strong up front on both sides of the ball and feature a strong linebacker crew. Few teams, if any, have a stronger roster than Tampa Bay.
That deep collection of talent has Tampa Bay tied for the highest wins total over/under at SI Sportsbook at 11.5 wins.
Tampa is 11-5 and 13-4 over the last two years, but Godwin’s availability could loom large early in the season when the Buccaneers face a brutal four-game opening slate.
Let’s examine which way to bet this over/under, especially since there is no significant juice to either the over (-125) or under (-110).
Losing Marpet and Cappa up front is going to hurt, and Gronkowski was a bigger part of the blocking scheme than many realize. However, the acquisition of Mason came at pennies on the dollar while Aaron Stinnie is a Super Bowl-winning lineman himself, making the new guys not as big a dropoff as one might see at first glance. Getting Gage to sign after seeing him twice per year with the Falcons will give the Buccaneers offense a new weapon for quarterback Tom Brady. On defense, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka’s rise to starter without JPP on the roster should be an improvement and could help cover some of the penetration issues the defense had in 2021. There are some new faces this time around, and a tough schedule won’t do the Bucs any favors. But come mid-January, this team is going to be well equipped to compete for its third Lombardi.—Caleb Skinner
Week 1: At Cowboys
Week 2: At Saints
Week 3: Packers
Week 4: Chiefs
Week 5: Falcons
Week 6: At Steelers
Week 7: At Panthers
Week 8: Ravens
Week 9: Rams
Week 10: Seahawks (Germany)
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: At Browns
Week 13: Saints
Week 14: At 49ers
Week 15: Bengals
Week 16: At Cardinals
Week 17: Panthers
Week 18: At Falcons
The NFL is doing the Buccaneers no favors with that opening slate. Three games against division leaders, Super Bowl contenders, and a road game at the Saints, whom Brady has yet to beat in four regular-season games with the Buccaneers.
Despite the tough schedule, Tampa Bay is not an underdog in any game and is favored in 16 games. The Week 14 game at San Francisco is a pick ’em.
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Let’s start our breakdown with the division.
The Falcons and Panthers—no matter the quarterback—should not provide challenges. The Buccaneers are favored in both Saints games and a four-point favorite for Week 2 but let’s not get too aggressive. We’ll predict a split there.
That has the Buccaneers at 5-1 in a good spot entering their other NFC games.
The Green Bay game come at an interesting spot since it’s Week 3, and Godwin may not ready by that time. Green Bay is a Super Bowl contender even without Davante Adams, while the Rams are 3-0 against Brady during his Tampa Bay tenure, including last year’s divisional round upset in Tampa.
Let’s project 1-1 in those games and a win over Seattle.
For the road slate, another 2-1 projection seems strong. Tampa Bay is better than each of those three teams, but some of those games come at tough times, including the season opener in Dallas. The 49ers could be quite tough late in the year when Trey Lance has had enough time to acclimate to being a starter.
A 4-2 record in those NFC games would have Tampa Bay at 9-3 entering the AFC portion of its schedule.
The Buccaneers face the AFC North this year and their crossover game is the Chiefs, the team they beat in the Super Bowl in Brady’s first season.
Tampa Bay drew a fortunate draw since its visiting the Steelers and Browns and welcoming the Chiefs, Ravens and Bengals. The Ravens and Bengals are tied for the best odds in the division at SI Sportsbook, so getting both at home is a bonus.
It’s easy to project Tampa Bay sweeping those road games and at least going 2-1 in those three tough home games.
The Chiefs game comes at the end of that hellacious four-game opening slate, while the Ravens come in on a Thursday in Week 8. That could be a very tough game. The Bengals head to Florida in Week 15 after the Bucs face the Browns, Saints and 49ers.
There’s something about 2-1 that just feels like it’s the right call, and that would have the Buccaneers at 13-4 overall. That gives us 1.5 wins over the projection.
Let’s look back at our projections to see if we need to adjust:
Division: 5-1 – Brady has to eventually beat the Saints … right?
NFC West/Packers/Cowboys: 4-2 – We projected a Rams/Packers split and 3-1 for at Dallas, at Arizona, at 49ers and neutral site contest versus Seahawks. We like 4-2 because if you want to say two road losses, it’s easy to say the Bucs then sweep the home slate.
AFC North/Chiefs: 4-1 – Road wins over the Steelers and Browns and a 2-1 record at home versus Kansas City, Cincinnati and Baltimore. You could argue for 3-0 here.
Even if we take away a win, the Buccaneers still can go 12-5 and we win this bet. These odds aren’t even juiced enough to scare us away.
In Brady we trust.
BET: Over 11.5 wins (-125)
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