2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Home Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
We know there's a Super Bowl Loser Curse and a Madden Cover Curse, but I don't believe I've heard of a Hard Knocks Curse.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are featured on this season's always-entertaining HBO show "Hard Knocks". Most coaches around the NFL tell their owners that they don't want the cameras around. That's why the league instituted rules where teams can be forced. Recent history has shown mixed results for Hard Knocks teams.
Last year's Rams were just 4-12, but that was because of an incredibly inept offense, overwhelmed Jared Goff and terrible coaching staff -- and not because of intrusive HBO cameras in training camp and the preseason. The 2015 Houston Texans were a playoff team after being on Hard Knocks. Other results this decade: 2014 Falcons (6-10 record), 2013 Bengals (11-5, playoffs), 2012 Dolphins (7-9), no show in 2011, and 2010 Jets (11-5, reached AFC title game).
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After a 9-7 record last year, the Bucs believe they can reach the postseason for the first time since 2007. I tend to agree. The Hard Knocks cameras showed us what a good leader quarterback Jameis Winston is, and he's a rising superstar on the field. Winston simply needs to cut down on the turnovers. The Bucs got him two nice weapons this offseason in speedy receiver DeSean Jackson, who will help ensure teams can't double-team Mike Evans, and Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, the club's first-round pick.
I love this offense … except at running back. Keep in mind that No. 1 tailback Doug Martin is suspended the first three games. Some guys lose motivation when they get a big contract. I'm not saying Martin did that, but in 2015 he was second in the NFL in rushing with 1,402 yards. Last year after getting a huge new deal, he was limited to eight games (why push through an injury if you are cashing big checks?) and had only 421 yards. I don't know why the Bucs didn't sign free agent Adrian Peterson. They were one of the early betting favorites on that prop.
And then you have Tampa's kicking situation. The team traded up into the 2016 second round to draft FSU's Roberto Aguayo, maybe the greatest NCAA kicker ever. He proved to be a major bust and was cut after missing two kicks in the Bucs' first preseason game. Frankly, Nick Folk hasn't looked a ton better, but he's the guy now. He missed four field goals and two extra points with the Jets last year.
Tampa Bay was 4-4 at home last season, 3-5 against the spread and 4-4 "over/under." The Bucs host four playoff teams in 2017, and they are grouped in two-week stretches: NY Giants, New England, Detroit and Atlanta. The home schedule is much tougher than away. Overall, Tampa has the 14 th-toughest schedule in the NFL with an opponents' combined 2016 winning percentage of .518. BetOnline lists the Bucs' win total at 8.5, with the under a -120 favorite. I projected a 3-5 road mark and like 6-2 at home so go over that total. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 17 vs. Bears (-7): Bucs off a Week 1 trip downstate to face the Dolphins. Presumably the Bucs will face their one-time starting quarterback and backup the past few years here in Chicago's Mike Glennon. Tampa wanted to keep him but couldn't offer the money or opportunity that the Bears did. Tampa blew out visiting Chicago 36-10 in Week 10 last year. Winston threw for 312 yards and two scores. Key NFL betting trends: Bucs 6-4 ATS in past 10 at home vs. Bears.
Oct. 1 vs. Giants (-2.5): Tampa is at Minnesota in Week 3. The Bucs' secondary allowed a 49.1 percent completion percentage on passes of 15-plus yards last year, third-most in the NFL. That could be a major problem against Odell Beckham Jr. Key betting trend: Bucs 2-8 ATS in past 10 at home vs. NFC East.
Oct. 5 vs. Patriots (+3): Thursday night. Clearly the one team in the NFL you don't want to face on a short week, but at least it's at home. And it's back-to-back multiple-time Super Bowl champion quarterbacks in Eli Manning and Tom Brady in the span of five days. Key betting trend: Bucs 3-7 ATS in past 10 as at least a 3-point home dog.
Oct. 29 vs. Panthers (-2.5): Bucs are in Buffalo the previous Sunday. First division game of the year for Tampa. It beat the visiting Panthers 17-16 to close last season. Winston threw for 202 yards and a score, and the Bucs stopped Carolina's two-point try in the final seconds. Kudos to Panthers coach Ron Rivera for going for it in a meaningless game. Key betting trend: Bucs 3-5 ATS all-time as home favorite in series.
Nov. 12 vs. Jets (-8): Tampa off a trip to New Orleans and ahead of its bye - this then looks like a huge trap game and I'm already taking the points here. The likely Jets starting QB, Josh McCown, was Tampa's main guy in 2014. First meeting between franchises since Tampa opened the 2013 season at the Jets. Key trend: Bucs 5-5 ATS in past 10 as at least a 7-point home favorite (last in 2012).
Dec. 10 vs. Lions (-3): This comes off trips to Atlanta and Green Bay. It's the third of four straight games the Bucs will have against opponents who reached the playoffs last year. Winston vs. Matthew Stafford in a matchup of former No. 1 overall picks. Key betting trend: Bucs 2-8 ATS in past 10 vs. Lions (any location).
Dec. 18 vs. Falcons (+1.5): Monday night, the latest MNF game to feature the Buccaneers since their 2002 Super Bowl season.The Bucs won in Atlanta last year but lost 43-28 at home on a Thursday in Week 9. Matt Ryan torched the Tampa defense. Winston threw for 261 and three scores, with Evans catching 11 for 150 and two TDs. Key betting trend: Bucs have failed to cover their past seven as a home dog in series.
Dec. 31 vs. Saints (TBA): No early Week 17 lines posted. The Bucs visit Carolina in Week 16. Last year's 16-11 victory was the Bucs' first home win against the Saints since 2011. Tampa's defense held New Orleans to 294 yards and picked off Drew Brees three times. That was probably the highlight of Aguayo's career with three field goals (on three tries). Key betting trend: Bucs 5-5 ATS in past 10 at home in series.
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