Buccaneers: Projecting 2018 win totals already is ridiculous
By James Yarcho
ESPN released its predictions for the Vegas over/under lines for the Buccaneers as well as every other NFL team – which is completely preposterous.
Vegas is the place to be when people want to take a chance and hope “Lady Luck” smiles upon them. When it comes to the NFL, nothing makes people think they have a better chance at winning money than all the knowledge they consume in today’s internet age. However, when ESPN released its 2018 over/under predictions for the NFL in January, it left me shaking my head. No, not because I disagree with the number they placed on the Buccaneers, but the entire idea in general.
The Bucs’ over/under was set at 6.5. For a team that just finished 5-11, you’d think that would be fair, right? Wrong. Just like it’s unfair to give the Patriots 12. Here’s what Bill Barnwell had to say about the Bucs;
"The Bucs underachieved in 2017, in part because they went 3-7 in games decided by a touchdown or less, including four such losses to playoff teams. Numbers suggest the Bucs should improve, but it’s difficult to see a high ceiling for Tampa Bay when it is bringing back frustrating coach Dirk Koetter and is still stuck in a division with three stacked teams in Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans. A healthy season from Jameis Winston — who posted the league’s seventh-best passer rating after returning from injury in Week 13 — would help."
Here’s the issue: it’s January. We don’t even know who is going to play in the Super Bowl yet and there are already odds being placed on 2018 finishes? It’s asinine.
These teams are being judged for a season eight months away based on rosters they played with last season. Not a single one of these teams will trot out the same 53 players in 2018 that they did in 2017. Not one.
There is a free agency period, where you’ll see players like Dontari Poe, Ziggy Ansah, Kirk Cousins, and Le’Veon Bell potentially change teams. You’ll have role players move from one side of the country to the other for a better opportunity – or a bigger paycheck.
You have the draft, where 254 college players will get their shot at NFL stardom along with the hundreds more signed as undrafted free agents or mini-camp invites.
Everything will change.
Take our beloved Buccaneers for example. You think with their jobs on the line, Jason Licht and Dirk Koetter are going into 2018 with the league’s worst pass rush still intact? No chance. They’ll sign free agents or draft guys – or both – that they think will raise that league low 22 sacks to something more respectable, more menacing.
How about running back? They aren’t going to put the load squarely on the shoulders of Peyton Barber. There will be a free agent or rookie brought in to share the carries. Offensive line will be a potential target of upgrade. Secondary – both at corner and safety – need addressing as well.
The Buccaneers have plenty of cap space – and more to come with inevitable cuts – to invest in free agents and draft players to improve this roster. Just like the Browns, 49ers, Jets, or any other NFL team will attempt to do.
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Projecting 2018 win totals this early isn’t just ridiculous, it’s ignorant.