Analyzing the Buccaneers’ First Win and First Loss Prop Bets
FanDuel Sportsbook is accepting bets on when seven "local favorites" will earn their first win and suffer their first loss in the 2020 season. Among those teams are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team with one of the more intriguing storylines for this 2020 campaign.
After signing Tom Brady in March, the Buccaneers slot in 10th in the numberFire power rankings and are listed at -230 to make the playoffs at FanDuel Sportsbook despite winning just seven games last season. Most of that push has to do with Brady's legacy of winning and taking care of the football after a rough 2019 season statistically for the 42-year-old quarterback. His 60.8 completion percentage was the his worst since 2013, and Brady's 4,057 yards were his fewest over a complete season since 2010. But he threw only eight picks, which is a major upgrade over the 30 Jameis Winston tossed last season.
The odds on when the Buccaneers will win their first game and when they will suffer their first defeat are underwhelming because of how straightforward Tampa Bay's schedule turned out to be. Tampa opens on the road at the New Orleans Saints, which might be its toughest game of the year, and the Bucs follow that with arguably their easiest game of the season at home against the Carolina Panthers. As a result, the bet on Tampa's first loss of the season coming in New Orleans is listed at -220 while the bet on the Panthers being the Buccaneers' first victory is -110.
The wager is far more interesting if the Bucs start the season 2-0 or 0-2, but we'll start by looking at the first two games of the season and how Tampa stacks up against two of its NFC South rivals.
Week 1 at New Orleans (First Win: +155; First Loss -220)
Football fans don't have to wait long for the first of the two tantalizing matchups between Drew Brees and Tom Brady as Tampa and New Orleans square off in Week 1. The Saints enter the season as the fourth-best team by our power rankings and have opened as 4.5-point favorites for this game.
The Buccaneers' defense is in for a tough test against Brees, the most accurate passer in the league last season. In addition to his stellar 74.3 completion percentage in 11 games last year, he led the league with 84.1 percent of his passes being on target, with only 10.7 percent of his passes being considered bad, according to Pro Football Reference. He accomplished all this without much at wideout of Michael Thomas. Ted Ginn Jr. was the only other wide receiver on the roster to catch at least 20 passes last season, and two running backs plus tight end Jared Cook caught more passes than Ginn's 30 last year.
Brees got more receiver help this offseason in the form of Emmanuel Sanders. While splitting time on two different teams in 2019, Sanders totaled 71.90 Reception Net Expected Points (NEP), almost double what Ginn produced last season as New Orleans' second-leading wide receiver.
The basic statistics would suggest this is a terrible matchup for the Buccaneers' defense, which ranked 30th in passing yards allowed last season. However, the unit also saw the most opposing pass attempts of any team in the league. This led to the Bucs actually having the seventh-best schedule-adjusted pass D, per our numbers.
The Saints were far more average against the pass last season, ranking 20th in yards allowed and 15th pass defense, according to our schedule-adjusted metrics. That could be an opening for Brady and his weapons to take advantage and keep pace with Brees and company on the scoreboard.
Where things will get hazy is if Tampa Bay can't protect Brady from the aggressive Saints defense, one that sacked Winston six times in one game last season and returns all six players who had at least three sacks last year.
Week 2 vs. Carolina (First Win: -110; First Loss: +800)
Let's be honest: Carolina, on paper, has no business winning this game. The Panthers rank 30th in our power rankings and are breaking in a new head coach who has spent just one season as an assistant coach in the NFL -- and that was eight years ago.
This Carolina team is a far cry from the ones that went to the playoff four times in five years from 2013 to 2017, which combined the playmaking abilities of Cam Newton with a strong and sturdy defense. The Panthers' defense has been exponentially worse over the past two seasons, and Carolina finished 22nd in schedule-adjusted pass defense in 2019, per our numbers.
And the defense isn't going to be any better without many of its playmakers from last season. In addition to losing linebacker and leading tackler Luke Kuechly, who announced his retirement in January, the Panthers cut Eric Reid, who finished second in total tackles behind Keuchly, and failed to re-sign Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin, who led the Panthers in sacks a year ago.
Carolina's rebuilding defense is a gift for Tampa Bay, which had its fair share of struggles on the offensive line last season, especially against the Panthers. In the two games between teams last season, the Panthers racked up 10 sacks and held the Bucs to 3.1 yards per carry to earn a split of the season series. According to Football Outsiders, Tampa's offensive line ranked 23rd in the league last season in adjusted yards gained for its running backs as well as adjusted sack rate, both of which took into account the Bucs' schedule last season.
Any Panthers win is going to start with Christian McCaffrey, the do-it-all running back who had a career year last season while leading the league in both rushing yards before contact and yards after the catch.
But McCaffrey's two worst games last season came against this Tampa Bay defense, a unit which does return almost everyone from last year. In two games against the Bucs, McCaffrey ran 38 times for 68 yards and caught six passes for 42 yards. This Tampa D ranked second in the league against the run a year ago by our metrics.
First Loss Sleeper: Week 6 vs. Green Bay
Since it's far more likely Tampa Bay starts 2-0 than 0-2, we'll focus on where that first loss may come if it doesn't come in the opener against New Orleans. The odds on when Tampa Bay will lose its first game runs only through Week 8 on FanDuel Sportsbook, so that rules out the Saints' return trip to Tampa in Week 9 and the Kansas City Chiefs' roadtrip to the Buccaneers in Week 12 as options for the bet.
After the first two games, the next three weeks are very winnable games for the Buccaneers even if they do have to travel for two of those contests. They head to the Denver Broncos in Week 3, host the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4 and travel to the Chicago Bears for their fifth game. If the Bucs can march into the Superdome and beat the Saints, they should have no issues handling the Broncos or Bears on the road, both of whom are projected by our metrics to have offenses in the bottom quartile. Handling the Chargers at home with a 1 p.m. EST start shouldn't be a problem for Tampa Bay, either, though you never know in the NFL.
So in this scenario, the Bucs are sitting at 5-0, and then Tampa Bay hosts the Green Bay Packers in Week 6. The odds on this game being the Buccaneers' first loss are +3500. The Packers are two spots above the Buccaneers in our power rankings and boast an offense that was seventh-best in the league in 2019. So if you think the Buccaneers are going to start 2-0, the Week 6 matchup with the Packers is the most logical betting option for when Tampa Bay might lose in the first half of the season.
The honest answer here might be to stay away from these bets entirely unless you are inclined to pick Tampa Bay to lose in the opener in New Orleans. The -220 odds on the Saints game as the Buccaneers' first loss isn't all that attractive, and neither is the -110 odds to pick Carolina as Tampa Bay's first win.
But those who trust in Brady being able to outscore the Saints in the Superdome can take the Buccaneers' first win to come in the opener at +155 and potentially combine that with the +3500 odds that the Packers hand Tampa Bay its first loss.