The NFC South is stacked this season, with three teams capable of making deep playoff runs. That’s not good news for the hapless fourth-best team in the division. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will try to stay afloat in 2018, but there are many things working against them.
They have to play the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints two times apiece. All three made the postseason a year ago and have the type of talent to win double-digit games once again. Furthermore, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has been suspended for the first three games of the season, and coach Dirk Koetter hasn’t guaranteed Winston will get his starting job back upon return.
The outlook is pretty daunting for this team and it will need to find many under-the-radar players to step up in order to have a chance at reaching .500 in 2018. The Buccaneer’ most likely outlook is a last-place finish in the division in NFL betting lines.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Opening Futures Odds at BookMaker.eu
Buccaneers Over 6.5 Wins +116
Buccaneers Under 6.5 Wins -140
2018 Buccaneers Offense Preview
Tampa Bay will roll with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback to begin the year. He has started a significant amount of games in the NFL throughout his career but is better-served as a backup. When Winston returns, he needs to show some growth in his game in order to take the Buccaneers’ offense to the next level. He has an elite receiver in Mike Evans, who should surpass 1,000 yard receiving once again in 2018. DeSean Jackson is a deep threat, big-play pass-catcher who puts stress on the defense. Tight end O.J. Howard has the tools to be one of the better players at his position and could be a breakout candidate in his second year.
It will be interesting to see how the running back situation shakes out. The Buccaneers need to run the ball effectively in order to give Winston’s vertical shots a chance to succeed.
2018 Buccaneers Defense Preview
The Buccaneers have struggled on defense recently and this year may not be much better. Tampa Bay needs to find a more consistent pass rush. The three quarterbacks in the Buccaneers’ division are Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Cam Newton, and all are great players. If given time and space, each of them can make life miserable on opposing defenses.
The Buccaneers made some moves on defense this offseason, after finishing last in total defense and sacks in 2017. They made the biggest changes, not surprisingly, to the defensive line, gobbling up free agents like Beau Allen and Vinny Curry from the Eagles, and acquiring Jason Pierre-Paul from the Giants in a trade.
2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Schedule Analysis
Tampa Bay’s stout division makes for a tough schedule in general, but the team’s first three games are brutal. The Bucs open on the road against New Orleans before returning home to face back-to-back games against the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles and the Steelers. It’s never easy to start a season 0-3, but that’s a definite possibility for the Buccaneers this year.
The middle of the schedule is probably the lightest with another tough stretch at the end that includes games against Carolina, New Orleans, Dallas and Atlanta. It’s going to be a tough road for Tampa Bay this season.
The Final Verdict
The Buccaneers play in a brutal division and won’t have their quarterback for the first four games. When he has been on the field, Winston has not lived up to the expectations bestowed upon a former No. 1 overall pick. This team has some explosive skill players and could steal a few games on the strength of some long touchdowns, but the consistency is not going to be there.
Tampa Bay could very well finish with one of the worst records in the NFL as the “under” is clearly the better play in NFL wagering.
NFL Odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Under 6.5 Wins (-140)
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