The Buccaneers started the 2020 season by landing the G.O.A.T. Tom Brady during free agency (+1400), and they ended the season by becoming the first team to win the Super Bowl (+1000) in their home stadium. Tampa Bay became just the 11th team to win the Super Bowl as a Wild Card team, winning three road playoff games before winning the Super Bowl at home after racking up an 11-5 record (9-7 ATS) in the regular season. They defeated three Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks in a row to win the title by knocking off Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Mahomes. Tampa Bay dismantled the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV for Brady’s seventh Super Bowl victory, and all of its hired guns (Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, and Leonard Fournette) played a hand in all four of its touchdowns.
Bruce Arians became the oldest Super Bowl winning coach at 68 years old. The Buccaneers last finished with a winning record back in 2015, and they ended the league’s second-longest playoff drought (12 seasons) in 2020. They broke team records in points scored (492) and touchdowns (59), and Brady set a franchise record with 40 TD passes and Mike Evans set a team record with 13 TD receptions. Evans also became the first receiver in NFL history to post 1000+ receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons.
The Buccaneers scored the third-most points per game (30.8) and they allowed the eighth-fewest points per game (22.2), which resulted in a 9-7 mark toward overs. Tampa Bay ended the year with a 3-3 record in one-score contests and a scorching 6-1 mark in contests decided by three scores or more, and they finished with the league’s fourth-best point differential (+137).
Tampa Bay’s 2021 win total (12) climbed by two and a half victories after retaining all 22 starters from its Super Bowl-winning squad this off-season. The Buccaneers cruised past their 2020 win total by 1.5 victories and they passed their total with their 10th victory of the season against the Lions in Week 16. Entering this season, I have the Buccaneers power rated as the second-best team in the NFL (+600 to win Super Bowl LVI), as the best team in the NFC (+275 to win the conference), and as the best team in the NFC South (-200).
Spreads are first-look lines from the SuperBook, which were released in early June.
|1||Dallas Cowboys||-6.5||8:20 (Thurs)|
|3||@Los Angeles Rams||+1||4:25|
|4||@New England Patriots||-3.5||8:20|
|6||@Philadelphia Eagles||-7.5||8:20 (Thurs)|
|8||@New Orleans Saints||-2.5||4:25|
|10||@Washington Football Team||-7||1|
|11||New York Giants||-10||8:15 (Mon)|
|15||New Orleans Saints||-7||8:20|
|17||@New York Jets||-8.5||1|
The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl as a Wild Card last season, which also means their schedule is a little easier than you’ll typically see for a defending champion as they’ll face the fifth-easiest schedule this season based on 2021 win totals (per Sharp Football). Tampa Bay will have the chance to wrap up the NFC South and/or a playoff berth in the final three weeks with two matchups against the Panthers sandwiched around a date with the Jets. They have another beatable slate of games in Weeks 6-13 with four matchups against teams lined at 7.5 wins or worse (Eagles, Bears, Giants, Falcons).
The Buccaneers have a relatively challenging start to their season with four matchups against teams lined at 9+ wins (Cowboys, Rams, Patriots, Dolphins) in the first five weeks. The Buccaneers, to the surprise of no one, will be featured five times in primetime, which created a couple of tough spots on the schedule. They have two short-week road games against the Eagles on TNF in Week 6 and against the Colts in Week 12 after playing on MNF. Tampa Bay is also one of 10 teams with two or more matchups against teams coming off bye weeks, including against a rested Giants squad in Week 11. The Buccaneers will also take on a rested Washington team in Week 10 but Tampa will also be coming off of its bye the previous week.
Key Off-season Moves
|Giovani Bernard (RB)||Joe Tryon (DE)||A.Q. Shipley (C, retirement)|
|Kyle Trask (QB)||Joe Haeg (OT, Pit)|
|Robert Hainsey (OT)||Ryan Smith (CB)|
|Jaelon Darden (WR)|
2021 Season Odds
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
|Season Win Total (O/U)||12 (-110/-110)|
Season Prop Movement
Win Total: 11.5 (-110) in late March to 12 (-110)
Super Bowl: +900 in early February to +600
Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total
The last time a Tom Brady-led team finished under their season win total came all the way back in 2009, which was his first season back after tearing his ACL and MCL in the 2008 season opener. Brady owns a 9-0-2 season total record since 2010 and he’s a ridiculous 15-2-2 for his 19 seasons as a starter. If you’re looking to lose money, betting the under against Brady’s teams has been an easy way to do it.
The Buccaneers have seen their odds to repeat as the Super Bowl champions shrink this off-season, which isn’t too typical. It’s usually difficult for the reigning champs to keep their rosters intact with players looking to capitalize off of their performances on the biggest stages during free agency. The Buccaneers became the first team to retain all 22 starters from their Super Bowl victory during the salary cap era, which began in 1994. It’s a testament to the environment Bruce Arians and Brady have quickly built with the Buccaneers that its stars wanted to come back to pursue another Super Bowl run.
Tampa Bay will head into the season with arguably the league’s best all-around roster and they just used the draft to build up its depth behind its starters. The Buccaneers have no noticeable weaknesses on their roster and all of their unit groups were ranked as top-10 units by PFF except for their running back room, which they ranked as the seventh-worst RB unit (a bit harsh, IMHO). The Buccaneers’ offense really hits its stride late in the season with Brady throwing multiple TD passes in 11 straight games to end the season (playoffs included) while they scored 30+ points in their final seven games, as well.
Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total
The Buccaneers have been fortunate to be the healthiest team in the league over the last two seasons, including last season when they led the league fewest adjusted games lost (per Football Outsiders). They also lost the third-fewest games in 2019 and they’ve certainly benefited from having one of the youngest rosters in the league outside of Brady. Tampa Bay is bringing back all 22 starters from last season but everyone will be a year older and it won’t have a lot of young blood inserted into the lineup. The Buccaneers are also coming off a 20-game season in 2020 so Tampa Bay will see regression when it comes to games lost this year, and it’s just a matter of how much regression they’ll have to deal with.
The Buccaneers even lucked out with their schedule for this season since they’ll face a second-place schedule since New Orleans finished ahead of them in the NFC South last season. That’s not to say they don’t have a difficult schedule, especially early in the season when they face the likes of the Cowboys, Rams, Patriots, and Dolphins in the first five weeks. The NFL will also heavily feature the Buccaneers with a maximum of five primetime games as they try to win the NFC South for the first time since 2007.
Notable Player Props
Tom Brady: passing yards (4750.5), passing TDs (36.5), MVP (+1400), most passing yards (+650), most passing TDs (+500)
Fantasy Points Projection: passing yards (4585), passing TDs (37)
Best-Case Scenario: The G.O.A.T. stays the G.O.A.T. as he keeps his TD rate above 6% and he hits 40+ TDs for the second straight year and for the third time in his career.
Worst-Case-Scenario: Despite playing with a loaded cast, Father Time finally starts to rear its ugly head at 44 years old as Brady’s play finally starts to fall off in his 22nd season.
Leonard Fournette: rushing yards (650.5)
Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (540)
Best-Case Scenario: Fournette carries his strong finish from the 2020 postseason into this season and he operates as the team’s feature back in this three-man Buccaneers backfield.
Worst-Case-Scenario: Fournette doesn’t see enough weekly work as he takes a backseat to Ronald Jones in clear running situations while Giovani Bernard is ahead of him in passing situations.
Ronald Jones: rushing yards (770.5)
Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (845)
Best-Case Scenario: RJII builds on his 5.1 YPC average from last season and takes over as the team’s featured runner after he fell behind Leonard Fournette during Tampa’s run to the Super Bowl.
Worst-Case-Scenario: Jones continues to play second fiddle to Fournette in this Buccaneers’ backfield and he finds a cold market as he heads into free agency for the first time.
Mike Evans: receiving yards (1050), receiving TDs (9), most receiving TDs (+1400)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (1025), receiving TDs (10.5), receptions (67)
Best-Case Scenario: Evans and Tom Brady continue to show a strong connection around the end zone and he extends his NFL-best 1000-yard streak to start his career to eight seasons.
Worst-Case-Scenario: Evans sits below a 20% target share for the second straight season with Brady at the helm as Antonio Brown’s role grows with a full season of reps in the offense.
Chris Godwin: receiving yards (1080.5), receiving TDs (7.5), receptions (83.5), most receiving yards (+2500)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (1045), receiving TDs (7.5), receptions (79)
Best-Case Scenario: Godwin, who needed surgery on his index finger, cleans up his uncharacteristic drops from 2020 and he rises above Mike Evans and Antonio to become Brady’s go-to receiver.
Worst-Case-Scenario: Godwin struggles to stand out in a crowded receiving corps with Evans and Brown after he finished behind them with an 18% target share in the final eight games of last season.
Antonio Brown: receiving yards (700.5), receiving TDs (5.5)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (760), receiving TDs (5)
- Best-Case Scenario: Brown challenges Mike Evans and Chris Godwin for the most targets after he stepped into a 20% target share for the final eight games last season.
- Worst-Case-Scenario: Mr. Big Chest starts to show his age at 33 years old, and he struggles to find consistent targets in an offense loaded with options at wide receiver and tight end.
Rob Gronkowski: receiving yards (495.5), receiving TDs (5)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (555), receiving TDs (6)
- Best-Case Scenario: Gronk plays in every game for the second straight season and he holds off the likes of O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate to pace the TE room in production.
- Worst-Case-Scenario: With Howard returning to action, HC Bruce Arians looks to preserve Gronk for the long haul by limiting his snaps after a 20-game run to the Super Bowl in 2020.
Antonio Brown over 700.5 receiving yards (-115, DraftKings). Risk one unit to win .87 units — Brown is being viewed as a distant third option in this passing attack behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin but that shouldn’t be the case based on his usage in his eight games once he joined the roster at the end of last year. Tom Brady didn’t have a favorite receiver in the second half of last season with Evans (21%), Brown (20%), and Godwin (18%) each finishing with similar target shares in Weeks 9-17. AB averaged a 10-year low 10.7 YPR last season but, digging a little deeper, he averaged a healthy 2.07 yards per route run and he averaged a seven-year best 5.2 yards after the catch. Brown isn’t the safest bet with his advanced football age at 33 years old and because of his past off-the-field indiscretions, but this total is just too low even if you bake in a couple of missed games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win the NFC South (-185, FanDuel). Risk two units to 1.08 units — The rich stayed rich this off-season with the Buccaneers retaining all 22 starters from their Super Bowl-winning squad, and they’re the clear class of the NFC South. The Saints are their toughest competition but they lost a ton of ammunition this off-season, and the hits continued with Michael Thomas expected to miss the first couple weeks of the season. The Panthers are on their way up but they’re still a quarterback and several defensive pieces away from contending, and the Falcons have one of the league’s worst rosters from top to bottom and they’re in the process of a mini-rebuild. I hate laying a big price to make this bet but the bookmakers have this line wrong. The Buccaneers have as good a chance to win their division as Kansas City does to win the AFC West. The Chiefs are competing against better teams in the Chargers and Broncos and you have to lay at least -270 to bet them to win their division. The Buccaneers have arguably the league’s best roster and it would take a Tom Brady injury for this wager to fall short.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers over 11.5 wins (-150, FanDuel) — See above.