The Tom Brady era in Tampa Bay is over after producing a Super Bowl win and three consecutive playoff appearances. It did not end well, though. The Buccaneers finished below .500 in 2022, and after winning a weak NFC South, they were easily dispatched in the first round of the playoffs by the Dallas Cowboys.
At DraftKings Sportsbook, Tampa Bay (-120) is favored to go Over 6.5 wins, which seems attainable despite the loss of Brady and some other notable performers. However, a more interesting wager to me is taking the Buccaneers to go Over 7.5 wins at +225.
Can the defending division champs of the past two seasons win eight games again? If Tampa Bay does so, a third straight NFC crown can be within reach.
Will the Buccaneers Win Over 7.5 Games?
- No, They Can’t Hit The Over On Wins Because Of The Quarterback Situation: The former No. 1 overall pick of the Cleveland Browns has one winning season to his credit, and last year Baker Mayfield lost eight of 10 games. Backup Kyle Trask is completely unproven, and it says a lot about Mayfield that he was in a preseason competition with the second-year QB.
- Yes, The Buccaneers Still Have A Fine Wide Receiver Duo: Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are one of the more established receiving pairings in the league. Maybe Mayfield can rediscover some of his better form with help from his best playmakers.
- No, There Is Not Much Depth Behind The Big Two: Russell Gage, the projected No. 3 WR, is out for the season because of a knee injury. That leaves a significant hole on the depth chart, and while tight end Cade Otton showed some promise in his rookie season, his second-year progress may be interrupted without Brady.
- Yes, The New Offensive Coordinator Will Help: Dave Canales took on various roles in Seattle during the franchise’s regular runs to the postseason over the past decade-plus. Canales is heavily credited for his role in Geno Smith‘s resurgence when he was a quarterbacks coach, and he will bring proper balance back to the offense.
- No, Todd Bowles Is Not A Winner: The head coach is one of those former outstanding coordinators who may be better off staying in that sort of role. Bowles has a career .405 winning percentage, and he has four consecutive losing seasons as a head coach, including three with fewer than six wins.
- Yes, The Running Game Will Be Improved: In 2022, the Buccaneers ranked last in the NFL in rushing at 76.9 yards per game. Rachaad White will take over the featured role and should upgrade the outlook, as he is a tough runner who can also make defenders miss.
- No, The Offensive Line May Stifle Continuity: Losing center Ryan Jensen to another knee injury is a significant blow. The unit is ranked 29th in the league by Sharp Football Analysis, as Brady will not be around to get the ball out quickly and make the line look better. Tristan Wirfs should remain stable with a move to left tackle, and rookie Cody Mauch looks promising at right guard, but most of the rest of the group won’t fuel high optimism.
- Yes, The NFC South Remains Winnable: The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons are in the midst of resets, and the Carolina Panthers figure to finish last. When Derek Carr is the best QB in the division, it seems like almost any team has a shot at finishing first.
- No, This is Not a Team With Strong Intangibles: Losing Brady as a leader takes a heck of a lot away in locker room impact from a team that won only eight games last season, and Jensen was also an important presence. If the 2022 Buccaneers could not finish over .500 with the GOAT, how can they expect to win even eight games this season?
- Yes, The Defense Can Still Be Good: Vita Vea remains a stout anchor on the defensive line, and the linebacking group still features Lavonte David and Shaquil Barrett. Tampa Bay has a formidable secondary, highlighted by cornerback Jamel Dean and two solid safeties in Antoine Winfield Jr. and newcomer Ryan Neal, who closes on defenders and hits with authority.
Buccaneers Win Total Bet 2023: Summary and Verdict
Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL, and it’s hard to have too much confidence in Mayfield to start the season. But he will have the support of a better running game and two pass-catchers who can assist him in possibly maintaining respectability.
However, depth will be an issue behind Evans, Godwin, and White, and one key injury will further thin out the offense. Without Brady, overcoming adversity seems much tougher, and Canales can only do so much without his key pieces.
- Read up on all the Tampa Bay Buccaneers betting odds for the 2023 NFL season.
While the defense can keep the Buccaneers in games, and the NFC South will be the worst division in the league, I expect New Orleans and Atlanta to improve, and Carolina can always steal a divisional matchup from Tampa Bay. Finishing with a winning record against divisional opponents may be a challenge.
Ultimately, I cannot back a post-Brady team led by Bowles that has notable and multiple reasons to finish a season below .500.
So I say: No, the Buccaneers will not win Over 7.5 games in 2023.