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Bucs a Year or Two Away From Competing

The Buccaneers roster over the years has been graced by defensive legends like Warren Sapp, John Lynch and Ronde Barber. The 2015 Bucs, however, were not burdened by such talent. Tampa gave up the seventh-most points in the league last year and did little in the offseason to improve a defense that was ultimately what crippled the Bucs in Jameis Winston’s rookie season.

Speaking of Winston, I have to give credit where credit is due. I fully expected the FSU product to have a Manziel-ian type career in the NFL. He had problems conforming in college and as we’ve seen, players who have significant personal problems rarely work out in the big leagues.

Winston came into camp 20 pounds lighter a year after passing for 4042 yards and rushing for 213 yards. Many quarterbacks tend to regress after having a good rookie season but with the weapons at Winston’s disposal, I can’t see that being the case.

Super Bowl +10000

The Bucs are being overlooked a little this season but not so much that I see there being value in betting any of their futures. They still have one of the weakest front sevens in the league and have pretty underwhelming depth on the offensive line.

Despite Winston’s talents, he threw 15 interceptions last year and fumbled the ball six times, helping Tampa compile -37 net points off turnovers. Only two teams since 2008 have won the Super Bowl with a negative net points off turnover ratio and no team in that time span has won the Super Bowl with a worse than -30 points off turnover ratio.

Unless you’re the “Florida Man” I’m always reading about in the news, you’re probably not crazy enough to make this bet. The Bucs are a year or two away from making the jump to being a contender and your money is best spent elsewhere.

NFC South +650

If you’ve read any of our other previews about the NFC South, you have noticed that we at OddsShark have come to the consensus that the Panthers to repeat as division winners is one of the safest bets in the futures market. The Bucs have not won the division since 2007 and have not earned more than seven wins since 2010. Carolina has a long way to fall if the Buccaneers have any chance at climbing to the top of the NFC South this season.

Tampa was competitive in most of their games within the NFC South in 2015 but went 3-7 against teams outside the division. Based on how teams finished, they had one of the easiest schedules in the league – a terrible omen for the upcoming season.

Win Total OVER/UNDER 7.5

Having the sixth most difficult schedule in the league can’t be a good thing for Tampa. The Bucs won only two games against teams who finished above .500 last year and were given no gifts from the scheduling committee in 2016. That said, Tampa should have a top-five running game that will allow them to hold on to the ball and eat up enough clock to keep scores manageable.

They won six games last year and only one of those was by more than seven points. With that kind of margin of victory, it’s hard to pull out two more wins this year – I think this team wins six or seven in 2016.

Doug Martin to Lead the League in Rushing +1000

The Muscle Hamster had a redeeming season in 2015 that saw him finish runner-up to Adrian Peterson for the most rushing yards in the NFL. He had almost 300 more yards than the third-place finisher and was just under the length of a football field away from taking the title from AP. Martin was extremely efficient last season and actually had more yards per carry (4.9) than the Vikings feature back (4.5).

In his rookie year, in 2012, Doug Martin rushed for 1454 yards and played in all 16 games. His 2012 and 2015 years were, however, the bread on a sandwich that saw him play just 17 total games, rush for under 1000 yards and average under 3.7 yards per carry in 2013 and 2014. He has yet to prove he can string together two good seasons but with a competent, dynamic quarterback at the helm, there should be plenty of holes for Martin to explode through.

If he can stay healthy, he should stay near the league lead in yards all year. +1000 is excellent value in a year that most teams have more than a few questions at the running back position.

2016 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Futures Odds
Super Bowl+10000
NFC Championship+5000
NFC South+650
Win Totals 7.5

Odds as of August 29 at Bovada