2019 may end up being a pivotal year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The NFL odds don’t look so kindly on their chances to win the NFC South, but Jameis Winston is high up on the odds boards to be an NFL passing leader.
I do find this interesting because after getting drafted No. 1 overall four seasons ago, Winston had a pretty darn good rookie year – so did Tennessee Titan quarterback Marcus Mariota. But since then we’ve seen a lot of regression. The Bucs franchise guy is second in the NFL in interceptions over that time.
That said, pundits are expecting some big changes. Is it because of Bruce Arians?
It’s interesting because Winston has fewer targets ‘quality’ targets. No Adam Humphries or Deshaun Jackson – which makes me immediately want to pick up Chris Godwin for my season-long fantasy lineup. He could hit 100 receptions this season. However, that is an aside. Let’s get back to Jameis Winston. He is on the last year of his rookie deal, which tends to motivate players. He is playing for his next contract. If he doesn’t show that he’s able to take that next step as a productive, team-leading QB, his contract stock will plummet. If he plays well and shows that he can be the guy who leads your team to victory on a consistent basis, his value goes up.
The Buccaneers’ 2019 schedule isn’t going to make it easy on Winston. They are tied with Arizona Cardinals for the 12th toughest schedule in the league. The Bucs face an average opponent with a winning percentage of .508. Fortunately, the Bucs don’t share the Raiders or Broncos schedule. The Raiders have seven games against playoff teams. So even though Chucky made a lot of moves over the offseason, getting to the playoffs is going to be a longshot. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, is just on the tougher side of ‘middle of the road’. The Saints have a weak schedule – if any NFL schedule can be called weak, but on the bright side, the Atlanta Falcons schedule is even harder than the Bucs’ and the Panthers’ schedule is only marginally easier.
The Bucs get to open their season against what may end up being one of the worst teams in the league yet again. Their Week 1 game against the San Francisco 49ers is a great first step towards bettering their five-win record in 2018. Sportsbooks have listed the Bucs with an OVER/UNDER of 6.5 wins. Which means the people in Vegas believe they Bucs have a seven-win season in them. Two more wins would be a big step in the right direction.
Games the Bucs should win include the ‘Niners in Week 1, the NY Giants in Week 3, the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10, the Detroit Lions in Week 15, and the Houston Texans in Week 16. They also have a good shot at splitting wins with the Panthers and Falcons. That said, the Falcons are going to be tough this season. And they have tough road games against the Rams and Saints early on. Can Winston and Arians make it to the .500 mark?