Offense Leads Way To Bucs Red-Hot 6-1 Start
The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers are already at the halfway point of surpassing last season’s win total.
The Bucs sit at 6-1 through seven weeks. Bruce Arians’ squad looks poised to best the 11-5 record that they set a year ago, one that placed them as the No. 5 seed in the NFC.
Tampa Bay’s high-powered offense started off slowly last season. The unit didn’t fully get in rhythm until the final quarter of the season (Weeks 14 to 17), when the Bucs reeled off four consecutive W’s.
Tom Brady and company found their momentum at the perfect time entering the postseason. They rode the explosive passing game past the Washington Football Team, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs en route to a Super Bowl 55 championship.
The offense has picked up right where it left off to close out last season. Through seven weeks, Brady led the NFL in both passing yards (2,275) and passing touchdowns (21).
It should be noted that Brady has attempted 62 more passes than Matt Stafford, who’s third in passing yards (2,172) and passing touchdowns (19).
Once again, Brady’s go-to weapons have been Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who are both in line to surpass 1,000 receiving yards once again.
Antonio Brown, who’s nursing an ankle injury, leads the team with an average of 83.6 receiving yards per contest. Rob Gronkowski had four touchdowns in three games before suffering a ribs injury in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams.
The rushing game has enjoyed a significant boost under Leonard Fournette, who only had 367 total rushing yards last season. He’s up to 413 (averaging 4.4 yards per carry) through the team’s first seven games.
The Tampa Bay offensive line has more than held the fort, too. Brady has been sacked just nine times up to this point; he hasn’t been brought down since the team’s Week 5 45-17 blowout win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay will look to make it five wins in a row when they visit the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints on Sunday (4:25 p.m. EST).
The Buccaneers are listed as 4.5-point favorites for that game. Tampa Bay fans interested can look at a unibet promo which is one of the world’s most popular online sportsbooks available.
Dominant Front Seven Leading The Way On Defense
Todd Bowles’ defense looks awfully similar to the group we saw last year. They remain the league’s best rushing unit (allowing just 67.4 rushing yards per contest) but often struggle against the pass; they’re allowing 264.7 yards through the air per game.
But the Buccaneers’ fierce front-seven and takeaway-happy defense have more than made up for the struggles against the pass. The team has 16 sacks on the season, led by Shaq Barrett’s 5.5
Tampa Bay has also forced 14 takeaways (10 interceptions, four lost fumbles), which is tied for second most in the league. Only the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts have forced more with 16 apiece.
The Bucs’ secondary isn’t expected to consistently shut down top-notch offenses. They largely struggled against Dak Prescott (Week 1) and Matthew Stafford (Week 3). But as we saw in last year’s playoffs, the pass rush and run defense are more than capable of bailing out the secondary if it has a bad game.
So Far, So Good
Overall, it’s hard to complain about Tampa Bay’s start. They’re just a couple of bounces away from potentially being 4-3 on the year, but Arians and company narrowly avoided upsets against the Cowboys and New England Patriots (Week 4).
They’re still far-and-away the favorites to win the NFC South. Along with the Rams, Packers, Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals, Tampa is in the running for the NFC’s top seed and lone first-round bye.
The Bucs have won six straight home games dating back to last season. Raymond James Stadium is now one of the toughest atmospheres for opposing teams to visit, so it’s especially imperative that Brady and the Bucs find their way to that first-round bye.
The first half schedule has been relatively easy. But the Bucs still have five divisional contests left: two against the Saints, two against the Carolina Panthers and one against the Atlanta Falcons. It’s not unrealistic to think Tampa Bay could lose two of those trap games.
On top of that, the Bucs have tilts with AFC playoff contenders in the Indianapolis Colts (Week 12) and Buffalo Bills (Week 14).
For now, the Bucs remain a prime favorite to win Super Bowl LVI.