There were times on Sunday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked smart in their decision to draft Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick in 2015. Flashing the ability that led the Bucs to take him first overall, Winston had what could be a defining game in his career. The only problem is that we’ll have to wait eight months to see if that is the case and by that time what he did against the Saints will be long forgotten.
It wasn’t strictly about the numbers because those weren’t off the charts. Winston completed just under 55 percent of his 51 throws and tossed three interceptions. But with the game on the line, Winston led a masterful drive against the Saints defense to salvage a victory and the coaching career of Dirk Koetter. Too many times Winston made the wrong the decision or a poor throw that was magnified by the team’s inability to win games. It looked as though Winston had become the franchise quarterback after leading the Bucs to nine wins and a near playoff miss last season.
But things fell apart this year and there was even rumblings about a disconnect between the quarterback and his coach. Koetter was hired to oversee Winston’s development but a shoulder injury in Week 5 and the after effects led to some sloppy play. Winston was eventually shelved for a few games to heal and he’s been solid since returning. Over the last five games he’s averaged nearly 317 passing yards per outing with nine touchdowns. He led the Bucs on a game-winning 95-yard drive with less than two minutes to play to give fans hope for next season.
2017 Record: 5-11
2017 ATS Record: 6-9-1
2017 Over/Under Total Record: 8-8
Current Super Bowl Odds: N/A
Current Odds to Win NFC: N/A
Current Odds to Win NFC South: N/A
Week 17: Buccaneers 31, Saints 24
ATS Result: Buccaneers +6
Over/Under Total Result: Over 49
The Bucs scored 10 points in the final four and a half minutes to win outright for their third straight ATS win while ending a five-game losing streak. Trailing 24-20, Patrick Murray connected on a field goal and the Bucs got the ball back at their 5 with 1:58 left. Winston converted a fourth-and-10 and got the Bucs into Saints territory before connecting on a 39-yard strike to Chris Godwin with nine seconds left for the game-winning score to cash the over.
Week 16: Panthers 22, Buccaneers 19
ATS Result: Buccaneers +10
Over/Under Total Result: Under 46.5
The Bucs nearly played the role of spoiler to perfection, covering the spread and coming within a half-minute of getting a big upset. But the game ended like the last five – with a loss. Tampa grabbed the lead early in the second half on Winston’s scoring pass to Bobo Wilson and the Bucs didn’t allow an offensive touchdown until Cam Newton scored with 35 seconds left to give the Panthers the comeback victory.
Week 15: Falcons 24, Buccaneers 21
ATS Result: Buccaneers +7
Over/Under Total Result: Under 49.5
Trailing by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter, Winston pulled the Bucs within a touchdown and covered the spread on his third scoring pass of the night with four minutes left. The defense came up with a stop on Atlanta’s next possession and with a minute left, Winston completed three passes to get the Bucs into field goal range. But Patrick Murray’s potential game-tying kick from 54-yards sailed wide right.
Week 14: Lions 24, Buccaneers 21
ATS Result: Lions PK
Over/Under Total Result: Under 47.5
Winston had a spell where he looked good, throwing a pair of fourth quarter touchdown passes to forge a tie. But the defense couldn’t prevent the Lions from getting into field goal range for the game-winning kick and cover with 20 seconds remaining. The Bucs turned the ball over five times with Winston responsible for three of them, thwarting enough drives to keep the score below the total.
Week 13: Packers 26, Buccaneers 20 (OT)
ATS Result: Packers -3
Over/Under Total Result: Over 45
The Bucs fought back from a 17-7 deficit and took a 20-17 lead midway through the fourth on Winston’s scoring pass to Cameron Brate. The defense couldn’t stop the Packers, though, who drove for the game-tying field goal with two minutes left. Taking the ball first in overtime, the Packers went the distance to hand Tampa its second straight ATS loss while cashing the over on the game’s final play.
Week 12: Falcons 34, Buccaneers 20
ATS Result: Falcons -10.5
Over/Under Total Result: Over 47
Peyton Barber scored a pair of second half touchdowns to pull the Bucs within seven points and they had the ball with a chance to tie the game later in the fourth. But Fitzpatrick tossed an incomplete pass on fourth down at the Falcons 18-yard line. Atlanta went the length of the field for a clinching score with two minutes left, sending the Bucs to the ATS loss.
Week 11: Buccaneers 30, Dolphins 20
ATS Result: Buccaneers -1
Over/Under Total Result: Over 44
Fitzpatrick threw a pair of scoring passes in a 17-0 spurt that got the Bucs the lead. But they allowed the Fins to come back and tie the game on a 61-yard pass play late in the fourth. Fitz led the team into field goal range with Patrick Murray nailing the game-deciding field goal with four seconds remaining for the ATS win. Over bettors were handed a win when the lateral-filled final kickoff was fumbled and recovered by the Bucs for a touchdown with no time left.
Week 10: Buccaneers 15, Jets 10
ATS Result: Buccaneers -1
Over/Under Total Result: Under 44.5
With a pair of aging quarterbacks dueling against each other, it wasn’t the prettiest game. But Fitzpatrick got the better of Josh McCown, leading the Bucs on a pair of long scoring drives, one that resulted in a field goal and the other a touchdown. Tampa’s defense finally showed some balls and held the Jets to fewer than 200 yards until late in the fourth when they amassed 120 on their final two possessions. A late score made the game close, but the Bucs recovered the onside kick for the ATS win.
Week 9: Saints 30, Buccaneers 10
ATS Result: Saints -7
Over/Under Total Result: Under 54
It was an awful afternoon all the way around for the Bucs, who lost their starting quarterback, had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, missed a field goal and had no answer for Drew Brees. The result was their sixth straight ATS loss. Tampa managed just 200 total yards and didn’t score a touchdown until the fourth when they game was out of hand.
Week 8: Panthers 17, Buccaneers 3
ATS Result: Panthers +1.5
Over/Under Total Result: Under 46
The Bucs held Carolina to 259 yards and played a strong defensive game, but they managed only a Patrick Murray field goal to fall to 1-5-1 ATS. Three turnovers proved costly, the last of which was turned into a Panthers touchdown for the deciding margin. Winston struggled with only 210 yards and two picks through the air making the under and easy winner.
Week 7: Bills 30, Buccaneers 27
ATS Result: PUSH Buccaneers +3
Over/Under Total Result: Over 46.5
The Bucs rallied from a 17-6 deficit behind three Winston scoring passes to take a 27-20 lead late in the fourth. But the defense couldn’t hold it, giving up the tying score in three plays and less than minute elapsed off the clock. Things got worse on the ensuing possession when Adam Humphries was stripped and lost the ball on the first play. The Bills nailed the game winning field goal seconds later for the push.
Week 6: Cardinals 38, Buccaneers 33
ATS Result: Cardinals +2.5
Over/Under Total Result: Over 46.5
The final score was closer than the game actually was and the Bucs lost their fourth straight ATS. Tampa couldn’t stop the Cards, falling into a deep hole early by allowing Arizona to score on its first three possessions. Adding injury to insult, Winston left the game with a shoulder injury and didn’t return. Fitzpatrick tried valiantly to rally the troops and they easily cashed the over, but it wasn’t enough.
Week 5: Patriots 19, Buccaneers 14
ATS Result: Patriots -3.5
Over/Under Total Result: Under 54.5
If Folk made one field goal the Bucs would’ve covered. If he made two they would’ve won the game. That’s how close the Bucs came to knocking off the defending champs. But they didn’t and it was a frustrating loss for a team that looked to have its offense in gear. Winston put up good numbers throwing for 334 yards, but the blown chances were too much and cost Folk his job.
Week 4: Buccaneers 25, Giants 23
ATS Result: Giants +2.5
Over/Under Total Result: Over 45.5
Winston calmly led the Bucs on their game-winning field goal drive by completing all five of his passes and collecting seven yards on a run. It was a masterful job after the Giants took the lead and failed on the two-point conversion, leaving the door open for Nick Folk to bang home a 34-yard field goal. The Bucs failed to cover for second straight game, but they did cash the over.
Week 3: Vikings 34, Buccaneers 17
ATS Result: Vikings PK
Over/Under Total Result: Over 41
The offense was little help in this one, committing three turnovers, converting just one third-down chance and possessing the football for only 22 minutes. A depleted defense wilted under the onslaught and allowed a backup to look like an All-Pro. The Bucs fell behind early and never caught up in a decisive loss that was a toss-up. Winston’s second touchdown pass benefitted over bettors, though.
Week 2: Buccaneers 29, Bears 7
ATS Result: Buccaneers -7
Over/Under Total Result: Under 44
The Bears gave it and the Bucs took it. Tampa Bay scored three times following a takeaway to build a big first half lead and never let Chicago into the game, easily covering the 7.5-point spread. Things calmed down in an uneventful second half, leaving the teams shy of the closing total.
Week 1: BYE
Preseason Record: 1-3
ATS Record: 1-3
Over/Under Total Record: 0-4
The young Bucs were inconsistent last season losing games to a bad Rams team and to sub-.500 clubs Arizona and New Orleans. The Bucs also dropped games to teams that were in the same boat as they were. All in all it was a good season and getting so close to reaching the playoffs has left the group hungry to finally get there.
Week 1: at Miami Dolphins, Sunday, September 10, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Week 2: vs. Chicago Bears, Sunday, September 17, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Week 3: at Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, September 24, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Week 4: vs. New York Giants, Sunday, October 1, 4:05 p.m. ET (FOX)
Week 5: vs. New England Patriots, Thursday, October 5, 8:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Week 6: at Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, October 15, 4:05 p.m. ET (FOX)
Week 7: at Buffalo Bills, Sunday, October 22, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Week 8: vs. Carolina Panthers, Sunday, October 29, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Week 9: at New Orleans Saints, Sunday, November 5, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Week 10: vs. New York Jets, Sunday, November 12, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Week 11: BYE Week
Week 12: at Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, November 26, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Week 13: at Green Bay Packers, Sunday, December 3, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Week 14: vs. Detroit Lions, Sunday, December 10, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Week 15: vs. Atlanta Falcons, Monday, December 18, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Week 16: at Carolina Panthers, Sunday, December 24, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Week 17: vs. New Orleans Saints, Sunday, December 31, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
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