Tag Archives: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Beating Vegas: Pile It On

In football, every team has a window.  These windows come and go, but usually once it comes and goes, it’s gone forever.  Some of these teams have “trap” games, or “let down” games.  This week, there are certain teams that need to separate themselves from the pack.  It’s a time to slay their opponent in such fashion that it was an insult to have to play them in the first place. . .

New York Giants +11.5 at Denver Broncos

There are still three win-less teams in the NFL this season.  The first two were predictable: the Browns and the 49ers.  The third is the team from New York. . . no not that one, the other one – the New York Giants.  Before the season started, the Giants were looked upon by many to be a division winner, or a Super Bowl contender.  “Not I,” said the Rabbit.  I couldn’t see how a one dimensional offense with a bottom tier offensive line would survive in today’s NFL.  After last week’s loss to the Chargers, those lofty dreams died, and so did the season for the Giants.  They lost their number one and two receivers for the rest of the season (Beckham and Marshall) and are now clearly the worst in the NFC East.  Eli Manning has been on a downward spiral his last three or four seasons and it’s safe to say the coach, Ben McAdoo has lost his team. On the flip side, the Denver Broncos are 3-1 and have one of the league’s best defenses.  The Broncos are  allowing 260 yards a game, (approximately, 50 rushing yards a game and 210 passing yards a game).  Offensively, this team was supposed to be horrible, but they’ve actually shown a nice balance between the pass and run game. Surprisingly, the rushing pair of CJ Anderson and Jamaal Charles (4.5 and 5.3 yards per rush respectively) have helped give quarterback Trevor Simien something to fall back on.  Truth is, 11.5 is a big number and might just get bigger, but the Giants might not put up more than 2 field goals in this game.  Denver wins because of field positions and Eli Manning turnovers.

The Pick: Denver -11.5

Cleveland Browns +9.5 at Houston Texans

Much like the Giants lost their best player in Odell Beckham Jr, the Texans lost their best player in J.J. Watt.  Unlike the Giants though, the Texans still have a chance to win their division, have a lot of upside and aren’t a plague within their community. Bill O’Brien’s Texans are 2-3 but have found some new life with rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson.  He’s been improving on his completion percentage (now 62%), has thrown 12 touchdowns to his 4 interceptions and is leading the team in rushing with 331 yards.  The Texans defense has been stout but losing JJ Watt and now Whitney Mercilus for the whole season will be huge.  You can’t just say “next man up” when those are the two pairs of shoes to fill.  The Cleveland Browns continue to be the a joke who’s punchline has lost its luster in the league, and it seems that Deshone Kizer project is (mercifully) over in Cleveland, so one would assume that Kevin Hogan will get the nod.  And deservedly so, he has looked better than Kizer whenever given the opportunity.  The Browns rush defense is holding opponents to less than 3 yards a rush, but they also haven’t played against any prolific offenses or seen a QB as athletically versatile as Watson.  Houston has the third most rushing yards in the league, but expect them to take advantage of this horrible pass defense.  Its unfortunate for the Texans, but they know how to play defense without Watt.  Also, if we’re looking at really simple arithmetic-esque patterns, the Texans lost, then won, then lost, then won, then lost. . .guess what’s next?

The Pick: Houston Texas -9.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5 at Arizona Cardinals

The Bucs are 2-2 this year and their best performance was a 5 point LOSS to New England.  This is a team that came into the season with a lot of hype and are now in the reality of “we need to fight every week.”  This week they are playing an Arizona Cardinals team that isn’t very good at all.  We here at Beating Vegas have drank the Kool Aid offered to us by Arizona, not once, but twice and it tasted like trash.  This time, we learned our lesson at Beating Vegas – hopefully.  Carson Palmer is pretty much, literally on his last leg. And although the Cards are second in the league when in comes to passing yards, the average yard per completion is less than 7 and they are completing passes at a rate of 59%.   The rushing game doesn’t help much either considering it is the worst in the league at 2.9 yards a rush.  We all knew losing David Johnson would hurt but not THIS much.  The Cardinals are so desperate they traded for washed up Adrian Peterson.  This is a complete desperation move as Peterson does not fit the Cardinals mold of a back who can catch passes and line up as a wide out so maybe they are looking to go more smash-mouth.  Maybe?  If that’s so, Peterson’s average the last year and a half is somewhere around 3 yards a carry so don’t expect much.  The Tampa Bay Bucs have the talent on both sides of the ball.  There really should be no excuse. I don’t even care that they have to fly from Florida to Arizona.  I’m sure me and my friends from New York could fly out to Arizona on Saturday night and hang about 30 on this Cardinals team.

The Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

NFC South: First Round Mock

This is a division that has represented the NFC Conference in the last two Super Bowls.  Unfortunately for the Falcons and Panthers, they ended up on the wrong side of memorable losses.  The Saints are trying to give coach Sean Payton and veteran QB Drew Brees “one more run” and the Buccaneers are a team definitely on the come up.  . .

Carolina Panthers

Finished 2016 with a 6-10 record

Def Yards: 21st  Off Yards: 19th

When you’re below average in offense and below average in defense, it’s easy to see you’re a team that has issues.   In Free-Agency they brought back defensive end Julius Peppers, who is somewhere in the range of 55-65 years old, second year man Devin Funchess’ supposed break-through season, ended up being a bust and Cam Newton was the NFL’s punching bag, literally and figuratively last season.

This is a situation in which you try to figure are you better off giving Cam Newton a chance out there, or do you start to rebuild a defense?  If you’re Ron Rivera and the Panthers brass, you’ve got to hitch your ride on Cam Newton.  Cam was the league two seasons ago and they’ve got to rebuild that confidence, because the entire team goes off of his vibes.  This is why with the 8th pick in this draft the Panthers should select Clemson wide-receiver Mike Williams.  We already mentioned the disappointing season had by Devin Funchess, but the number one option Kelvin Benjamin couldn’t record 1,000 receiving yards (that went to the tight end of the team, Greg Olsen).  Williams is a 6’3″ 205 pound man-child, who is a strong receiver who out-muscles defenders and is an excellent red-zone target.  The Panthers offense isn’t too difficult which is a perfect situation for any rookie wide-out, but Williams has the potential to be a top-10 receiver in the league, some where down the line, and he could end up being Cam’s new number one by the end of the season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Finished With a 9-7 Record

Def Yards: 23rd  Off Yards: 18th

When your starting safety is Chris Conte, it’s pretty obvious where you should go in the first round.  Bad news is, the top three safeties might be gone by the time the clock starts ticking on the Bucs’ 19th overall pick.  Adams, Hooker and Peppers might very well be gone, which leaves the Bucs to choose from UConn’s Obi Melifonwu and Utah’s Marcus Williams.  Melifonwu is more of the physical type, while Williams is the more skill-base-type of safety.  Williams might be a bit of a stretch this early, so if this is who the Bucs want, they might try to trade further back into the first round and take him, but Williams is a player who came out of a very good defensive school, in a division that has high-powered offenses.  The Pac-12 is a conference that loves to throw the ball around and he did exceptionally well against that.  He has a great knack for being around the ball and can help a defense that gave up 250 passing yards a game last year.

Atlanta Falcons

Finished with a 11-5 Record

Def Yards:25th   Off Yards:2nd

Without depressing Falcons fans (and Patriots haters) on how the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. . . ugh, how can we ignore that?  What a debacle.  Bad play-calling, decision-making and effort all rolled into one of the most classical “choke-jobs” in professional sports history. . . but ANYWAY. . . the Falcons have no use for drafting anything offensively, and although their defense finished 25th in total yardage, towards the end of the season, this unit seemed to be getting it altogether. . .until the end of the Super Bowl.  Getting to the quarterback is what the Falcons needed to do more of against Tom Brady and they failed.  Vic Beasley is the only consistent pass rusher on this defense and with the 31st pick of the NFL Draft, the Falcons might luck in and be able to grab Takkarist McKinley, of UCLA.  McKinley is an outside linebacker who can also play as a defensive end if needed.  He has a good burst off the line and has the ability to become a nuisance off the edge and through the gut.

New Orleans Saints

Finished With a 7-9 Record

Def Yards:27th     Off Yards: 1st

When looking at the defensive and offensive yardage rankings between the Falcons and the Saints, it’s hard to believe that one team was dominant during last season, and the other was the Saints.  Of the Saints 9 losses, only two of those games were determined by double digits, and six of those games were determined by five or less points. The Saints are painfully mediocre with a stellar offense – it’s a tough place to be. . .or even end up at, if we’re being honest.  With Brandin Cooks now in New England (where he will be an amazing addition) it only makes sense that the Saints go after the speedster out of Washington, John Ross.   Ross was the talk of the NFL Combine for running a 4.22 forty-yard-dash and he is the natural comparison to Brandin Cooks.  A small, shifty receiver, with good route running skills and the ability to stretch the field.  The Saints know that with their veteran quarterback Drew Brees, they can’t have him lack a weapon he used as often as he did last season.  If all goes well, it should be a perfect fit and the Saints would not lose a step in their offensive attack.

G.W. Gras

@GeeSteelio

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2015 Preview

Last year there was a lot of hype around the Buccaneers.  That hype was quickly killed.   This year the hype is back – but expectations are realistic.  The hype is more about the “future” and less about the “now” which is exactly where it should be after a 2-14 season.

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The “future” lies in the hands of the number one over-all pick in this year’s draft: Jameis Winston.  Winston came into the league with character issues upon character issues, but the Florida State quarterback has been none-the-less been handed the reigns of the Buccaneers franchise.  He has innate leadership abilities on the field and is a polished enough passer at this early stage, to have the confidence of the coaching staff.  Pairing up Winston with head coach Lovie Smith, should benefit for Winston early.  Smith is a tough-old-school coach, who believes in players on his rosters.  Smith will do everything in his ability to not put a lot of stress on the young quarterback, although Winston seemed to look his best in pressure situations while in Florida State.  The scariest thing about Winston becoming a pro, has nothing to do with his character though – it has more to do with the last two Florida State quarterbacks who were taking in the first-round: Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel.  Yuck.

Behind Winston is an unsteady group at running back.  Doug Martin is looking more and more like a one year wonder and Charles Sims appears to be a guy who is more of a receiving back than a bell-cow.   It seems that the Bucs only go to Bobby Rainey when there is no where else to go which makes no sense.  Rainey isn’t a world-beater but he’s the best they have at the position.

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The lack of success in the running game can’t be all attributed to the ball carriers though.   This offensive line was atrocious last season and it seemed that they made a steal in an early trade last season with New England when they acquired guard Logan Mankins, but it was obvious New England gave them damaged goods.  The Bucs are depending on two rookies to start right away.  Penn State tackle Donovan Smith is a strong lineman who played in a “black and blue” style, but he will have growing pains in trying to protect Winston’s blind side as a rookie.  Ali Marpet was drafted out of division three in college and played at Hobart University.  Marpet is a product out of Hastings, New York who is being cheered on throughout the nation as the kid from the small school to make the NFL leap.  Marpet was a beast in Division III football, but the level of competition he faced was below average.  A good Senior Bowl and combine showing, gave his supporters some confidence.  He will get his chance early.

The Bucs were happy with their 2014 first-round pick, Mike Evans.  Evans became the team’s number-one wide out surpassing 1000 yards and accumulating 12 touchdowns in his rookie season.  There was talk the Bucs might cut ties with wide receiver Vincent Jackson, but the veteran (who pulled in 1000 yard season as well) is still here and it’s a good thing.  Jackson has been underrated his whole career and he is actually a perfect compliment to Evans.  Jackson isn’t afraid of contact and is actually a strong outside blocker as well – Evans can still learn from the veteran.

On the defensive line, Gerald McCoy continues to be a handful against anybody and this year he is joined on the line by Henry Melton who is still young enough to believe that he can resurrect his career hear and get back into Pro Bowl form.   The Bucs signed defensive end George Johnson, who may have looked better than he actually was in Detroit, while playing with a great defensive line.   Clinton McDonald was acquired from Seattle and pretty much, anybody from that Seattle squad is considered a positive get for any defensive unit.

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The Bucs figured they’d better extend the contract of linebacker Lavonte David before it’s too late, and that’s just what they did on August 10th.  David signed for $50.25 million in his extension and the Bucs.  Last year David totaled 146 combined tackles.  Bruce Carter is a Tampa 2 style middle line backer who was signed less for his tackling abilities but more for his zone coverage skills.

The secondary may still be an issue in Tampa as Alterraun Verner is still they’re number one and although is far from washed up, he was not the player they thought they were getting in free agency last year.  Johnathan Banks is okay, but at times gets too over confident and jumps routes often.  Lovie Smith’s loyalty to former players may be his undoing at the safety spot with former Chicago Bears Major Wright and Chris Conte.

Predicted Record: 6-10

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Gerald McCoy, Mike Evans, Bobby Rainey

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio