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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Under 5.5 wins

07.23.2010     06:23 AM         Printer Friendly

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season Over/Under Wins
Recommendation: Under 5.5 wins +120 @  The Greek

Last year I found myself betting against the Buccaneers early and often. Right from Week 1 in their home loss to Dallas, the Bucs rewarded us and built our bankroll early. In producing our fourth straight winning NFL season for our clients, Fairway’s Forecast and selection service went 48-33 on NFL side plays including preseason, regular season and playoffs. Part of our strong success early in the season (10-0 in Week 2) was isolating struggling teams. Tampa Bay clearly fit the bill, losing its first seven games and losing the money (ATS) in six of those.  The oddsmaker of course adjusted but still could not make the lines high enough at times with the Bucs brutal offense. Following the bye week, Tampa Bay transitioned again and turned the offense over to rookie quarterback Josh Freeman. They were able to win three games and cover five of their final nine. However, the offense still struggled and was inconsistent under the rookie signal caller, scoring 7, 6, 3 and 10 points in four of the final nine contests.

The Bucs were outscored 176-83 in those six early losses, or an average margin of defeat of 15.5 points per game (29.3-13.8 avg. score). Tampa Bay’s leadership from the owners (Glazers) to head coach (Raheem Morris) to quarterback (Byron Leftwich/Josh Johnson) was awful. Ownership has declared a youth movement as they cut costs while their personal debt skyrocketed. The offense may appear in better hands with Freeman, but he threw 18 interceptions last year in less than 300 attempts and he’ll be passing to a pair of rookie wide receivers, Arrelious Bend (2nd round, Illinois) and Mike Williams (4th round, Syracuse), who are currently slated to start. The system is designed for slant and dig routes, and Freeman will look to veteran tight end Kellen Winslow often but expect Winslow to be the focus point of most defenses. Tampa Bay does feature a decent run-blocking offensive line and fullback for their respectable running backs, Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward. No doubt they will rely heavily on the running game. But that could be a problem again if they find themselves trailing too often, or if injuries occur as the offensive line has little to no quality depth.

On defense, the Bucs front line will also feature a pair of rookie starters with No. 3 overall pick Gerald McCoy and second round selection Brian Price taking over at the two tackle spots.  Teams will attack the interior against these young guys, and the team lacks pass-rushing prowess on the outside. Combined with sub-par linebackers and shaky safeties and kicking specialists, I expect Tampa’s defense to regress even more in their zone-based Tampa-2 that worked out better the last six games of 2009.

Looking at the schedule the Bucs have some winnable games on paper, and they will be favored in the opener against the Browns and in week seven against the Rams. They get the Steelers at home in Week 3 without Ben Roethlisberger and play the projected sub-par Panthers and Seahawks at home as well. The losing Lions also visit Tampa late season, but we expect Detroit to be much improved. The Bucs should start the season much better than a year ago, but six wins still seems like a stretch. Tampa Bay will be road underdogs in all eight games, and no surprise if they lose every one. Their best chance will come early season at Carolina and Cincinnati, but after that I see lilttle chance.

I expect the youth movement to carry additional growing pains in 2010, and while it’s just July, my early Fairway Forecast is that the Bucs will be very fortunate if they can reach six wins.

2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Schedule
at Carolina
at Cincinnati
New Orleans
St. Louis
at Arizona
at Atlanta
at San Francisco
at Baltimore
at Washington
at New Orleans

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