2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Predictions and Season Win Total Picks
Did you hear? Tampa Bay got a new quarterback.
Tom Brady has followed the well-worn path of so many aging New Englanders, working his way down to the Florida for his twilight. Brady is hoping a change of scenery will spark a late-career resurgence, and he is looking to write one final chapter to his legendary career.
Brady won’t have the benefit of Bill Belichick’s brilliant mind or New England’s Top 10 defense. However, Bruce Arians is no slouch. And Brady will be working with an arsenal of skill position players better than anything he ever had at his disposal in Foxboro. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate are just some of the toys Brady will have to work with in an offense that finished last season No. 3 in total yards and scoring.
I don’t necessarily think that Brady is a great fit for Arians offense. Arians never max protects, doesn’t often keep running backs or tight ends in to block, and loves to attack defenses vertically rather than with timing routes and underneath stuff. His offense frequently exposes his quarterbacks to hits and can leave non-mobile signal callers – like Brady – at the whim of opposing defensive linemen.
I’m not saying Brady can’t do it. I am saying that it will be an adjustment for the 43-year-old, and I wouldn’t expect fireworks right out of the gate.
All of the attention this offseason has been on Brady and the offense. But if Tampa Bay wants to be anything more than a subplot in the NFC, then they need major improvement from a defense that has been one of the worst in football over the past decade.
In 2017 Tampa Bay fielded the league’s worst total defense. In 2018 they were second-worst in the league in scoring defense. Last year they did make some modest improvement. They were No. 1 in rushing defense and No. 15 in yards allowed, the franchise’s second-best mark since 2008.
The Bucs were still just No. 30 against the pass and allowed the third-most points in the league. So they are not good enough. Tampa Bay’s defensive yards per point is in a regression range, which should lead to fewer points. But without any offseason additions on this side of the ball, improvement will have to come from within.
Of course, perhaps the defense will be better without Jameis Winston and the offense constantly putting them behind the eight-ball with turnovers and short fields. Tampa was -14 in turnover differential last season. Improvement in that facet alone should lead to a couple extra wins.
There is no value betting on Tampa Bay this year. Brady’s signing has been one of the most hyped moves of the offseason, and this team is very much in the public spotlight. There are reasons for optimism after underachieving in 2019. But I think the bar has been set to high for this group.
I don’t like to make a habit of betting against the greatest quarterback in NFL history. But Brady is going to find that Playing in the NFC South is a whole lot different than beating up on the losers in the AFC East. Tampa Bay’s schedule is brutal. And a litany of short weeks and mentally exhausting high-profile games is directly related to the acquisition of Brady.
If Brady leads this group to a 12-4 campaign and fulfills the hype, then that’s great. But if I am going to get caught on these guys it will be going against the public.
Take Tampa Bay ‘Under’ 10.0 Wins.
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