Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the precipice of history from all different angles. Brady is one win away from playing in his 10th Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the Bucs are attempting to be the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Can Tampa pull it off? Are they worth the investment of +430 at FanDuel Sportsbook as of Wednesday afternoon? Let’s dive in:
How did we get here?
Amidst the Brady signing, Tampa Bay was +1500 preseason to win Super Bowl LV after opening +6500 (pre-Brady) last January. There was a ton of buzz around the team due to offensive weapons Brady hadn’t had in years and a defense that had blue chip names all over like Lavonte David, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Ndamukong Suh.
Tampa Bay entered the postseason as a Wild Card team after failing to win the NFC South, but won as road favorites in Washington and disposed of their rival Saints, 30-20.
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Can Brady get No. 7?
Tampa Bay has already played two of the three remaining teams, routing the Packers 38-10 and then scraping back to hang with the Chiefs, but losing by three at home. The Bucs defense was able to dominate the Packers back in week 6, sacking Aaron Rodgers four times and picking him off twice.
Tampa Bay’s defense does a great job at limiting chunk plays, as they are top 10 in both explosive run and pass plays allowed, and first in adjusted sack rate. The Bucs are going to be able to get pressure on the quarterback and avoid getting beat on big plays.
Despite some struggles against a tough Saints defense, the Buccaneers offense was opportunistic, producing all three touchdowns off New Orleans turnovers. Tampa was tied for fifth in the league in takeaways during the regular season with 25.
Special Teams can stop Tampa Bay
The Bucs have had shaky special teams play this season. Ryan Succop went 28/31 on field goals during the regular season, which is very good, but also missed five extra points, as well as a sixth in the Wild Card round.
Not to mention, the Saints took an opening drive punt just outside the Tampa Bay 20 that led to a field goal and then on the following drive had a touchdown called back because of a block in the back. Bottom line: The Buccaneers’ special teams could cost them in a close game.
Further, injuries are starting to mount for Tampa Bay. Mike Evans was hobbled in the Wild Card round and was a limited participant all week leading up to the Saints game, nursing a hyperextended knee. Even though he played in New Orleans, the receiver had one catch for three yards.
Chris Godwin was also limited in practice with what was reported as a hip and quad injury. He played and had four catches for 34 yards. Lastly, Antonio Brown injured his knee in the first half of the Divisional Round game. His status is uncertain heading into this weekend.
While Tampa Bay has been able to cash in on timely turnovers, that may not be the case against Green Bay, who has committed the fewest turnovers in the league this season. If the Bucs fall behind, a banged up receiving core may be limited in helping a comeback effort.
Bet or no bet?
At +430, the Bucs are a valuable bet to win the Super Bowl. While it was one game several months ago, the 38-10 win over the Packers was telling. Tampa Bay’s ability to dial up the pressure and get to the quarterback is a real issue for a Green Bay offense that is running thin on the offensive line without All-Pro tackle David Bakhtiari.
While the receivers may be hobbled, Brady is going to be able to find success against a Green Bay defense that allowed an injured Jared Goff to complete nearly 78% of his passes. The Packers’ defense is weak against the run and Tampa Bay can put together a complete effort to pull out a win behind both Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones.
After that, a +430 ticket in the Super Bowl is valuable against either Buffalo or Kansas City, as the Bucs will be inside of +200 to win the big game for sure.