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A major changing of the guard has taken place with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers entering the 2019-20 season. No longer are Dirk Koetter and his joke of a coaching staff overlooking a roster filled with exciting, young players that never got to reach their full potential under the previous regime. Enter Bruce Arians and what looks to be a special group of coordinators in Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles. While the NFC South is loaded with what looks to be some supreme talent, don’t make the mistake of putting it past the Bucs from coming out of nowhere to compete for division honors. Linemakers at offshore sportsbooks opened up their season win total odds at 6.5 and installed them longshot 13-1 underdogs to take home division bragging rights.
Since entering the NFL, Heisman Trophy Award winner Jameis Winston has proven he has what it takes to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Unfortunately, erratic play, off the field chaos, injuries and bad coaching has prevented him from reaching his full potential. With Arians and Leftwich now in the mix, there’s no more excuses. The Buccaneers rated out as the league’s No. 1 passing attack a short season ago, and almost every player from that roster returns in hopes of improving upon that output. Mike Evans has already distinguished himself as one of the best pass catchers in the game, but this could be the season fantasy footballers get to hem and haw about snagging Chris Godwin later in the draft as this could be his breakout campaign after reeling in 59 catches for 842 yards and 7 TD last season. The tight end duo of OJ Howard – provided he can finally stay healthy – and Cameron Brate is also likely to make some noise in Arian’s vertical passing game. Rounding it all out will be Peyton Barber in the backfield, but he best keep close tabs on Ronald Jones who will be looking to make hay off a wasted rookie debut.
Bowles will have his hands full trying to resurrect a Tampa Bay defense that ranked last in efficiency each of the last couple seasons. We’re talking about a unit that got routinely torched both on the ground ( No. 24 ) and through the air ( No. 26 ) in 2018. Only the Oakland Raiders possessed a worse scoring defense than that of the Bucs who charitably surrendered an average of 29.0 points per game. To little surprise, Tampa Bay bolstered its talent and depth on the defensive side of the ball via the NFL Draft. LSU’s Devin White is currently the favorite to take home the Defensive Rookie of the year Award, and he’ll be thrown into the mix to play alongside uber talents Jason Pierre-Paul ( when healthy ), Ndamukong Suh, Lavonte David, Vita Vea and Vernon Hargraves. It can’t get much worse for this maligned defense, so maybe a change in direction will prove to be the spark that gets this franchise a step closer towards snapping its ugly playoff drought.
If a dramatic turnaround is to occur, the Bucs will be forced to hit the ground running. The Week 1 home tilt with the 49ers will be a huge game for both squads. Come out of that one triumphant, and a 3-0 start is certainly in the cards heading into the Week 4 trip to the Coliseum where the Los Angeles Rams will be waiting. You know Tampa Bay will be able to bring it offensively, but this season’s success ultimately hinges upon the defense finally rounding into form. If Todd Bowles proves to be another miracle worker, Tampa Bay’s 13-1 odds of winning the division could go down in history as one of the worst lines offered up at top rated sportsbooks.