By: Nate McMullen
Record: 5-11, 4th in NFC South
Success: Prolific passing offense
Offensive MVP: QB Jameis Winston
Defensive MVP: DE Jason Pierre-Paul
O/U Wins: 6.5 (O +100, U -120)
Predicted Record: 6-10
Can Bruce Arians and his people turn the Buccaneers around?
Let’s start with the bad: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers couldn’t stop a snail from reaching the end zone last year. They ranked 27th in the league in total yards allowed, 26th in passing yards, and 24th in rushing yards, leading to a horrendous 29.0 points allowed per game and a 5-11 record. Todd Bowles takes the defensive reins in 2019 after four years with the Jets. His defense in New York was solid, so he’ll look to transform chumps into champs in a quick turnaround. If the Tampa Bay squad is going to have any sort of success this year, they’ll need DE Jason Pierre-Paul to repeat his huge 2018 season, in which he recorded 12.5 sacks and 48 total tackles. Longtime Buc DT Gerald McCoy was cut, but his replacement, Ndamukong Suh, will look to make a splash on a weak defensive squad. Tampa Bay also lost their leading defensive back, Andrew Adams, so the secondary could have a tough time in the division.
One bright spot last year was passing attack. Ryan Fitzpatrick made headlines with his huge first few weeks, but Jameis Winston took over at the end of September to throw for 2,992 yards and 19 touchdowns. Running back Peyton Barber returns after averaging only 54.4 yards per game last year, so Winston might not have much help on the offensive side. If Winston has anything going for him, it’s his receiving corps: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Cameron Brate provide Winston with solid targets that should keep him a prolific passer.
With a poor defense and a limited offensive attack, Tampa Bay’s hopes lie with head coach Bruce Arians. Can Arians and his coaches work their magic to make the Buccaneers competitive in a stacked NFC South? In short, no. They should improve, but the new coaching regime won’t have had enough time to really turn this team around. Take the under on the Bucs and, if you’re a fan, hope they can use 2019 as a steppingstone to a brighter future.