This will be the last chance we get to see Jameis Winston before his suspension kicks in for the regular season opener, and there’s a good chance the former No. 1 overall pick takes the field for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who go for the Florida Sweep when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Week 4 preseason finale. The Bucs lost for the first time this preseason when they gift wrapped a win for Detroit last week. But their win over Miami in the exhibition opener set them up to claim bragging rights in the sunshine state.
This preseason Week 4 matchup is set to take place on Thursday, August 30, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. ET at Raymond James Stadium.
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Jacksonville Jaguars OFF
Tampa Bay Buccaneers OFF
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With Winston likely to play, the Bucs should have an advantage and that will show in the line. The spread and total remained off the board while oddsmakers were doing their due diligence. Both teams are 2-1 SU and ATS this preseason.
Blake Bortles is the starter and that’s all there is to it. Despite throwing a pair of interceptions in last week’s win over the Falcons, Bortles led the first-team offense on a pair of scoring drives and the defense did the rest. That’s going to be the game plan for any success the Jags enjoy this season. Cody Kessler had a strong game to solidify his spot as the primary backup, completing all seven pass attempts while rushing for 21 yards and a touchdown.
If Doug Marrone follows the plan he used last season, we are likely to see rookie Tanner Lee get most if not all the snaps on Thursday. Last year, Bortles and backup Chad Henne sat while Brandon Allen played the entire Week 4 matchup. Lee has played in only one game this preseason, hitting 4 of 8 for 37 yards in the opener.
With Winston set to begin his three-game suspension and prohibited from the Bucs facility during that time, it makes sense that he plays on Thursday. We actually saw this back in 2016 with the New England Patriots when Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of the year. Brady started the final preseason game and played the entire first half.
We certainly won’t see Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is the temporary starter in place of Winston, and with Ryan Griffin serving as the primary backup for the first three weeks, it’s doubtful he plays. Besides, both looked good in last week’s game. Winston has looked good, too, this preseason, completing over 73 percent of his throws for 388 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. Rookie Austin Allen will probably pick up the second half scraps.
With an infusion of young coaches, we’re seeing a change to the way the preseason is being treated. Some teams have elected to sit out starters for the entire slate of games while others have drastically decreased reps for the guys at the top of the depth chart. Marrone is an old-school coach and he’s followed the typical preseason coach’s handbook. And it’s hard to blame his methods after winning 19 games in his last two full seasons as a head coach.
Marrone has never had a winning preseason record, twice going 2-2. He’s currently 2-1 SU and ATS after defeating the Falcons last week, and he is 4-3 SU and 4-2-1 ATS overall in his tenure with the Jags. He won the Week 4 finale last year on the road.
Free ATS Pick
With Winston likely to play, the Bucs have a huge advantage at the quarterback spot. He’s been solid during the preseason, showing the leadership and on-field presence that made him the Bucs No. 1 pick a few years ago. Now, if he can only get past the off-field transgressions he could become the leader to take the team to the postseason.
And Winston needs the work before he’s banned from the Bucs facility during his suspension. He could play a half and that’s all the Bucs would need to hold off the Jags, who are going to use the deepest part of their roster in what is basically a meaningless game for them. I don’t see a lot of points being scored, but the Bucs will ride the play of Winston to a cover win that plays below the total.
NFL Betting Odds: Buccaneers 18, Jaguars 13
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