The last team to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles was Tom Brady’s 2004 Patriots team. And after leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Promised Land in 2020 and cementing his place as the greatest of all time, Brady is essentially now chasing his own ghost.
The Bucs are favorites to win a second straight Lombardi, the NFC title, the NFC South, and pretty much every game on their 2021 schedule. Are bettors willing to eat that chalk or will they snack on all the points being handed to Tampa’s opponents?
Here’s our 2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL betting preview.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers futures odds
|To Win Conference||+200|
|To Win Division||-310|
|Season Win Total O/U||12 (Over -120)|
|To Make Playoffs||Yes -750/No +525|
Best futures bet: Over 12 wins (-120)
You’ve got to be very picky not to project at least 12 wins for the Bucs in 2021. The schedule makers hand them a slate ranked 29th in SOS (.465) and the back half of the calendar lines up for a red-hot run into the postseason, which suits this squad fine.
Tampa Bay didn’t pick up steam until Week 14 last year but will hit the ground running with all 22 starters back on the field. The Bucs have multiple ways to win games as well, so it’s not all on Brady and the passing game to get them the W. They’re comfortable in a high-scoring shootout or a defensive slugfest. Pick your poison.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers betting overview
What will win bets: Passing attack
Does anyone have any more questions about Brady’s aging arm? No. Great, let’s move on.
Tom Terrific enters Year 2 in Tampa and all the pieces of last year’s Super Bowl puzzle are still in place, including a passing attack that finished fifth in Passing Offense DVOA at Football Outsiders and posted an EPA per dropback of 0.252 (also fifth).
Brady ranked third in completed air yards (2,833) and connected on 40 passing TDs, with 13 of those finding Mike Evans and seven ending up in the hands of Chris Godwin. And let’s not forget Antonio Brown, who was outstanding in limited action in 2020 and now gets a full season in the sun with the Buccaneers.
As a testament to just how potent this passing game is, the Bucs’ totals are among the highest in the NFL despite the fact their defense is Top 5 in the league.
What will lose bets: All those points
Defending Super Bowl champs don’t have a great track record against the spread the following season, with books padding the point spreads for the public appeal of those title holders.
Since 2010, reigning Big Game winners are a combined 90-81-5 ATS and only four of those 11 teams have covered more than nine games in the regular season. Granted one of those teams was Brady’s 2017 Patriots squad that finished 11-5 ATS on the year.
As you can see below, bookies are putting the Bucs up against a pile of points in 2021 and, given the projected success of this side, those spreads will get even bigger by the time gameday rolls around. What’s more, many of those current lines are sitting on the other side of a key number, with -3.5, -6.5, and -7.5 all rearing their ugly heads against Bucs backers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers game-by-game odds
Not surprisingly, the Bucs are point spread favorites in 16 of their 17 games this upcoming season, save for a Week 3 cross-country trip to L.A. to battle the Rams as 1-point pups.
Tampa Bay isn’t just giving a handful of points in 2021: it’s laying down more lumber than Paul Bunyan on Red Bull. The Buccaneers are favorites of a touchdown or more in eight contests while teetering on a TD as -6.5 chalk in three other outings. Tampa Bay went 4-2 ATS when giving at least a touchdown last regular season.
Going hand-in-hand with those sky-high spreads are some lofty Over/Under totals. The Bucs’ lookahead lines feature all but two totals of 48 points or more, including a dozen numbers of 50 points or higher. Brady & Co. finished 2-5 Over/Under versus 50-plus totals in 2020 — overall, the NFL pumped out a 44-41-2 O/U count in games with totals of 50 or more points.
|3||@ L.A. Rams||+1||49.5|
|4||@ New England||-3.5||49|
|8||@ New Orleans||-3||51.5|
|11||vs N.Y. Giants||-10||50.5|
|15||vs New Orleans||-7.5||52|
|17||@ N.Y. Jets||-8.5||47|
Early season forecast
September is no cakewalk for the defending champs, who now have the target on their back that a Lombardi trophy brings. Tampa Bay is a big home fave to capable opponents in the first two weeks before a potential NFC Championship Game preview on the left side of the country in Week 3.
The 2021 NFL season kicks off with a grand opening on Thursday Night Football, when the Cowboys come to town as 7.5-point underdogs. The Bucs opened as 6.5-point chalk and stayed there for most of the spring and summer until issues with Dak Prescott’s shoulder showed up in Dallas and the line jumped to -7.5. This Week 1 war also adds another chapter to one of my favorite long-running trends: defending Super Bowl champs are 14-6-1 ATS in Week 1 of the following season since 2000.
Week 2 opens divisional competition for Tampa Bay, with the Falcons and new head coach Arthur Smith getting almost double digits at Raymond James Stadium (+9.5). The Over/Under for this NFC South showdown is at 52 points with the Falcons and Bucs topping the total in nine of their last dozen run-ins. However, games with spreads of nine points or more finished 7-20 O/U in 2020 (74% Unders).
One of the biggest games of the 2021 schedule headlines Week 3. The Bucs are currently 1-point underdogs, marking the only game in which Tampa Bay is getting points this year. In two seasons under Arians, the Buccaneers are 5-6-1 ATS as pups and fell 27-24 to the Rams at home last year in Brady’s worst effort of 2020 (26/48, 216 yards, 2 TDS, 2 INTs). The total is sitting at 49.5 points with L.A. swapping Jared Goff for Matt Stafford this time around.
Week 6: @ Philadelphia (-7.5)
The Eagles will likely have a rough start to the season, given their coaching overhaul and strength of the schedule to open the year, so expect this spread to climb – especially if the Bucs blow through their first five foes.
Road favorites of more than a touchdown were just 8-15 ATS last season (35%) when teams had no or reduced fans in the stands.
Tampa Bay is a tough totals bet to figure out. On one hand, you have the greatest quarterback to play the game and an offense loaded with weapons. And on the other, a chaos-causing defense that ranked fifth in Defensive DVOA at Football Outsiders in 2020 and recorded 48 sacks and 25 takeaways.
Last year’s squad posted a 9-7 Over/Under count in the regular season, including a 5-3 O/U record on the road. Add in postseason performances and Tampa topped the total in seven of 11 away tilts.
The Bucs also offered up Over profits in NFC South matchups, with a 5-1 O/U output in divisional games in 2020. In fact, in two seasons with Arians stalking the sideline, Tampa is 10-2 O/U in NFC South outings.
Star power props: Tom Brady, QB
|Player prop||Odds to win|
|Passing Yards Leader||+650|
|Passing Yards Total||4,750.5 (Under -120)|
|Passing TD Total||36.5 (Under -125)|
Best prop: Over 36.5 Passing TDs (-105)
Given COVID-19 limitations (which didn’t stop Brady from holding shadowy workouts) and learning a new system with a foreign receiving corps, last September was a de facto training camp for Brady and the Bucs. In those first three games, the veteran QB posted a passer rating of 92.0 with six TD passes and three INTS.
Once the calendar flipped to October, Tampa’s passing attack had worked out the kinks and was off and running, with Brady connecting for 12 touchdowns and only one pick in the second month of the schedule. He finished with 40 TD throws on the year — tied for the second-highest mark in the NFL — which was his biggest scoring output since a 50-touchdown effort during that magical 2007 season. With the whole crew back for 2021 and a proper camp and preseason being planned, Brady and the boys will pick up where they left off.
Trend to know
Tampa Bay has made the most of non-conference clashes in recent years, with the Bucs going 5-2-2 ATS versus AFC opponents in two seasons under Arians. Looking back, this franchise has held its own in those non-conference clashes, with a 24-18-3 ATS count versus the AFC since 2010.
Shrink that scope to just non-conference road games and the Buccaneers are 14-7-1 ATS (66%) in the past 11 seasons, with Arians upholding that tradition with a 3-1 ATS count when visiting AFC foes since 2019.
Tampa Bay's non-conference road games
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