Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Date and Time: Friday, August 11, 2017, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Preseason NFL Week 1 Opening Odds: Bengals -2, O/U 37.5
Buccaneers vs. Bengals TV Coverage: Local
It was mighty interesting that Koetter decided to leave Winston on the field for two full drives against Philadelphia in the first week of the preseason last year. He made it known after the game that he wanted Winston to feel good about his first action of his second season, and it's anyone's guess how long he would have been on the field had that second drive not resulted in a touchdown, particularly after the first-team defense allowed touchdowns on each of the Eagles' first two drives.
This year, there are two new quarterbacks on the roster in Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Sefo Liufau. Liufau figures to be the last quarterback standing for this game, knowing that Fitzpatrick is settled in as the backup, while Ryan Griffin, a preseason standout for years and years, is sure to be the third-stringer.
If history repeats itself, Liufau will only end up getting a drive or two after Griffin plays most of the second half. It's entirely possible that Griffin will get a shot to beat out Fitzpatrick for the backup job, though the veteran from Harvard is unlikely to go from Jets' starter to out of the NFL this quickly.
The Bengals have a couple known commodities in Andy Dalton as a starter and A.J. McCarron as a backup. McCarron was rumored to be on the trade block during the offseason for a team looking for a backup who might end up capable of evolving into a franchise quarterback. Instead, the Alabama product is staying put and is going to get his shot to impress in the preseason once again.
Jeff Driskel is the only other quarterback on this roster, so don't be surprised if Marvin Lewis allows McCarron to have a bunch of time in this game, perhaps as much as three quarters of the affair if things are going well.
Offensive line play was a big problem for the Bengals last season, and they're really going to be pushing their luck here in the preseason. McCarron and Driskel could be stuck running for their lives behind an offensive line that has a whopping five rookies trying to make this team, none of which project out as starters. The only one who was drafted of the five was fifth round pick, J.J. Dielman, and he is nothing more than a second center at best on any roster in the NFL.
The Buccaneers have a bunch of younger defensive ends, but most have had at least some camp experience somewhere along the way. Guys like Channing Ward, Ryan Russell, Sterling Bailey and Noah Spence are names you'll want to remember. These are the linemen who will be looking to pick on all those young offensive linemen in the Bengals' lineup.
Buccaneers vs. Bengals Free Picks
Having a poor offensive line can blow up a game plan, and we can't help but wonder if Tampa Bay is going to take advantage. The second- and third-stringers that Koetter trotted out last preseason were actually pretty darn good, and that could be a good omen for play this year as well.
No matter where you shop around for odds at online sportsbooks, you'll see Tampa Bay ranging anywhere from +2 to +3 with a high vig. We don't think the points are going to matter in this one. Expect to see the Buccaneers win a low-scoring slugfest with Griffin ultimately leading the team to victory.
Buccaneers vs. Bengals ATS Pick: Buccaneers +2 at BookMaker.eu
Buccaneers vs. Bengals Score Prediction: Buccaneers 17, Bengals 13