Can Brady lead Tampa Bay to 10 wins?

May 23, 2020 12:58 AM

No NFL team has undergone a more impressive offseason makeover than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After finishing last season 7-9 and missing the playoffs for the 12th straight year, the Bucs landed the biggest fish in free agency this offseason, signing 6-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady to a 2-year, $50-million deal.

In an interview with ESPN earlier this week, Bucs GM Jason Licht described the combination of Brady and coach Bruce Arians as "a perfect marriage." 

"You've got two guys that have something to prove; they want to win, they want to win now; they've got the same mindset." 

As if adding Brady wasn't enough, the Bucs also traded for Rob Gronkowski, reuniting the all-world tight end with the only quarterback he's ever known. With Brady throwing to Gronk, wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, plus tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay possesses one of the most high-powered offenses in football.

Expectations are sky high in Tampa. But are they warranted? After all, Brady is 43-year-old and the Bucs had the 4th-worst defense in terms of points allowed last year.

Earlier this offseason, Tampa's win total opened at 7.5 across the market. But then Brady coming aboard changed everything. With the GOAT joining the Bucs, the Tampa win total was adjusted up to 9. When Gronk entered the fold, it was adjusted once more to 9.5. Reading between the lines, Brady was worth roughly 1.5 games to the win total while Gronk was worth 0.5 games. 

Tampa's win now total stands at 9.5. Despite the big adjustment upward, we're still seeing heavy juice on the over. At FanDuel the over 9.5 is -130 (the under + 110). At PointsBet the over 9.5 is -139 (the under + 115). Circa Sports is actually hanging a win total of 10 with -120 under juice and the over even money. DraftKings is sitting at 9.5 with even -110 juice on both sides. 

With the win total moving so much and the juice remaining so high, one has to wonder if there is still value on the over. Sportsbooks are still making bettors pay a heavy price, which indicates liability remains on the over. However, sharps likely pounced on the over weeks ago when it was at 8.5 or even 9. Taking over 9.5 seems risky and late. If anything, taking an inflated under 10 may be the smarter play at this point. 

The Bucs rank in the middle of the pack in terms of strength of schedule. Their 2020 opponents had a combined record of 128-127-1 (.502) last season, which puts them tied for the 16th hardest schedule out of 32 teams. 

Here's Tampa's full schedule this season.

Week 1: at Saints

Week 2: vs Panthers

Week 3: at Broncos

Week 4: vs Chargers

Week 5: at Bears

Week 6: vs Packers

Week 7: at Raiders

Week 8: at Giants

Week 9: vs Saints

Week 10: at Panthers

Week 11: at Rams

Week 12: at Chiefs

Week 13: Bye

Week 14: vs Vikings

Week 15: at Falcons

Week 16: at Lions 

Week 17: vs Lions

The Buccaneers haven't made the playoffs since 2007. But oddsmakers expect that to change in 2020. Tampa is a -230 favorite to make the postseason at FanDuel (and a + 184 dog to miss the postseason). The Bucs are a short + 160 dog to win the NFC South. The Saints remain the favorite at -110. The Falcons are + 700 and the Panthers a distant + 1400.

Brady's Bucs have the 3rd best odds to win the NFC at + 700, trailing only the 49ers + 460 and Saints + 650. Tampa has the 5th best Super Bowl odds at + 1500, trailing only the Chiefs + 650, Ravens + 700, 49ers + 900s and Saints + 1200. 

What can we expect from Brady in his first season outside of New England? FanDuel has set Brady's over/under passing yards at 4,224.5 (-112 both sides). His over/under passing touchdowns is 29.5 (-112 both sides). Last year Brady threw for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns with the Patriots. 

Brady has the 8th best odds to win MVP at + 1800, trailing Patrick Mahomes + 380, Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson + 600, Dak Prescott + 1200, Drew Brees + 1600 and Carson Wentz and DeShaun Watson + 1700. 

In addition to adding Brady and Gronk this offseason, Tampa also resigned defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul along with linebacker Shaquil Barrett. The Bucs beefed up their offensive line by drafting Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs with the 13th overall pick. In the second round, Tampa selected safety Antoine Winfield Jr. of Minnesota. 

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