Now that the preseason is over, we can finally turn our full focus toward the regular season. Every year fans wonder how well their respective teams will fare, with hopes of reaching the ultimate goal in the end.
The Bucs are loaded on offense and have a potentially good defense sitting on the western shore of Florida. But even though they have all the pieces in place, it’s always tough prognosticating results.
At Bucs Nation, we compiled a few over/under scenarios for the season and got everyone’s take on who they think will exceed - or not live up to - expectations in 2018. Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments!
1. Jameis Winston passing yards - 4,000
Alex: Over. If the preseason is any indication of how Winston will play this year, you have to take the over. It’s weapons galore on this offense and he has everything he needs. So far, he is a man on a mission.
Bailey: Over. Winston looked like an absolute stud in the preseason and considering all that he has to prove this season, he’ll be extremely determined to carry it over into the regular season. He has so many weapons at his disposal, meaning the Bucs will continue to throw the ball around the yard. The young quarterback needs around 307 yards per game to surpass the 4,000-yard mark. If he continues to display the same efficiency that he had in the preseason, that 307 per game is definitely attainable.
David: Over. Winston has looked good in the pre-season. Really good. So have some key players like Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard. DeSean Jackson’s usage is much better up to this point and Mike Evans is still one of the top receivers in the NFL. Even with three games gone, he’ll get over the hump thanks to a late season playoff push.
Dustin: Over. With the way we saw Jameis Winston pushing the ball downfield during the preseason, I think there’s a lot to get excited about once he returns to the lineup. Tampa Bay’s offense could truly become explosive.
Evan: Under. Despite missing three games last season, Winston still logged over 3,500 yards - good for almost 270 yards per game. He’d have to eclipse 300 yards per game in 13 games in order to get to 4,000 yards in 2018. While I definitely think it’s a possibility, I don’t think he gets there this year.
Gil: Over. Winston, as Evan stated, missed three games last season as well. However, that was due to injury. We’ve seen Tampa Bay’s franchise quarterback be zoned in during the preseason. He looks healthier and much more focused than previous seasons. And sure, while it was done against several players that are looking for jobs today, he made it look easy. Oh by the way, his timing with his receivers also looks improved.
James: Over. Winston, once he returned from injury last season, was rolling along at a clip of 317.8 yards per game. If he can reach that pace once he returns this season it works out to 4,118 yards. The Bucs’ schedule is a difficult one and there will likely be more than a few games where the Bucs are down and have to air the ball out. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility Winston hits this number despite missing three games.
Jon: Under. I think he finishes just shy of 4,000 yards in what is his best and most complete season to date, but missing three games for his suspension will keep him under.
Kyle: Under. With three games down the drain to start the season, I expect Jameis to push the limits of near 300 yards a game this season - but ultimately I expect him to land shy of the mark and thus, shy of 4,000 yards.
2. Peyton Barber rushing yards - 750
Alex: Over. The Buccaneers need to establish the run in every game this season and Barber will be a big part of that. I think Barber will be the lead back all season with how impressive he has looked up to this point in the preseason. I expect a 1,000 yards in 2018.
Bailey: Under. Barber will get the bulk of the carries early, but Ronald Jones II will figure out this NFL thing sooner rather than later. Once he plays to his potential, Tampa Bay will likely distribute carries a little differently. Barber will still be the main back, but he might not get enough touches to get over 750. Somewhere between 600 and 700 yards seems like the sweet spot for him.
David: Over. But just barely. I’m thinking like 820 or so. If I’m right, and the Buccaneers are in the hunt late, it’s going to be foot on the gas for the team and that means more passing and more Jones II who should be better acclimated by then.
Dustin: Over. Originally, I was going to go with the under, but I think Tampa Bay’s offensive line is due to take a step forward. Plus, I’m worried about the depth behind Barber.
Evan: Over. So many factors go into this one and a lot of the equation depends on if the offensive line can stay healthy - yet I believe Barber becomes one of the biggest surprises of the season. Unless he gets hurt, I think he takes the reigns as the lead back this year. He’s looked great in the preseason and Jones II has not, which leaves the door of opportunity wide open for Barber.
Gil: Under. This is hard for me because I do not see Barber getting 750-plus yards. While I would like to believe it to be true, I feel that with the constant change of hands out of the backfield, that mark may be difficult to reach. Plus, last year was a small sample size and we do not know how long he can withstand a 16-game season of being the “lead” back.
James: Under. Once RoJo gets into his groove and becomes a bigger part of the offense, Barber will see his opportunity decline. Yes, there is the chance that he gets a stranglehold on the starting job early in the season, but it seems too likely that the Bucs go by committee too often to allow him to hit that mark.
Jon: Under. Even assuming 4 yards per carry - a pace Bucs running backs have been unable to hit in recent years - it would take at least 187 carries to get to 750 yards. No Bucs have gotten 187 carries or more under Dirk Koetter since Doug Martin in 2015, when he got 288. Plus, running back is the most injured position in the NFL.
Kyle: Under. Barber ran the ball roughly 15 times a game down the stretch to end 2017 with no other back to push him for carries. That may hold true early on but rookie Ronald Jones should push for a bulk of the load towards third quarter of this NFL season.
3. Mike Evans receiving touchdowns - 9.5
Alex: History says Over. In his rookie season he has 12. In his third season he had 12. I don’t think he will have 12 in his fifth year because of all the weapons, but I do think he gets 10 or 11.
Bailey: Over. There are a ton of talented pass-catchers on the roster, but Evans’ rapport with Jameis Winston is too strong to disappear because of that. He is a major threat in the red zone and he should get plenty of targets. As long as he stays healthy, I think he gets to 10 touchdowns.
David: Under. There are too many players to spread the ball to and too many defenses who are going to key in on Evans. Add this to the running game finally having the ability to run it in from outside 15, and Evans is going to lose some targets in the red zone.
Dustin: Over. Yes, Tampa Bay has a ton of talent. But it should add to his production not limit it. Other play makers will open things up for Evans just a little bit. And that’s more than enough for an elite talent. His rapport with Jameis Winston is the difference here.
Evan: Over. Evans is on a mission this year and an unless the offense just goes into the tank, he will dominate.
Gil: Over. I don’t think there should be much debate here. I feel the ball will go around often, but Evans will still be the go-to guy in the end zone.
James: Over. Despite the weapons on offense, Evans has created a pattern of nabbing double digit touchdowns every other year. Guess which year this is.
Jon: Under. Too many weapons, though he might get 9.
Kyle: Over. The Buccaneers have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to receiving targets and I expect it to play into Evans favor this year. Evans has posted two years of 10+ as well as two of 5 and below, I look for Evans to touch double digits once again in 2018.
4. Total sacks on defense - 35.5
Alex: Under. The team had 22 last year. It’s not like they added a 16 sack guy over the off season. Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry will help, but it won’t make the unit elite. I think they will get close, I say 34.
Bailey: Under. I’m optimistic about the new-look defensive line, but I don’t see that large of a jump in one year. To go over 35.5 sacks, I think at least two players would have to rack up double-digit sacks. I don’t see it happening. Somewhere around 28 to 30 is the most realistic range.
David: Under. I’m more comfortable around 30. It’s still an improvement, and a good one. But the line is still new playing together, and any rash of injuries will completely stall this units ability to get to the quarterback. Plus, they’re facing the best division when it comes to quarterbacks, so that doesn’t help.
Dustin: Under. Until Tampa Bay’s defensive line proves they’ve taken a step forward with the additions this offseason, it’s hard to believe in the hype. I mean, look at what’s happened before.
Evan: Under. When you’re dead last, the only way to go is up. For the Bucs however, I don’t think they have enough on defense to jump into the upper-half of the league when it comes to sacking the quarterback. I love what they’ve done on the defensive line, but it’s not enough just yet.
Gil: Under. Look, I am a huge fan of the team bringing in Brentson Buckner to coach the defensive line as well as the key additions they made across it. While I think there will be improvement for that unit and the linebackers will have more shots of getting into the backfield, defensive coordinator Mike Smith is still calling plays. So until I see the defense as a whole playing lights out, I can’t be so optimistic on that sack number.
James: Under. Gotta prove that this defensive line is that much better than the last ten. Yes, they look great on paper and we’re all excited about the leadership of Brentson Buckner, but you have to show me you can do it before I buy into the hype again.
Jon: Under. Agree with Evan here. It's hard to understate how bad the pass rush was last year. Even an incredible improvement could still see them below average.
Kyle: Over. The Buccaneers recorded 38 sacks in 2016 and saw that number plummet to 22 a year ago. The added talent along the defensive front matched with an again improved offense should equal some more late leads where the defense can pin back the ears and get after.
5. Kwon Alexander total tackles - 105.5
Alex: Over: The improvements along the defensive line with surely allow Kwon to shoot the gap a lot more then he did last season. I believe he gets back into the top five in the NFL in solo tackles.
Bailey: Over. Like Lavonte David and perhaps even more so, Kwon is flying around on every play. He has a nose for the ball and ends up being involved in just about every tackle. Barring injury, he’ll get past the 105.5 mark with relative ease. To get to 106, he needs six or seven tackles per game. At this point in his career, it’s like he could do that in his sleep.
David: Over. Alexander is flying around the field. He’s flying around a bit wrecklessly at times, but I’m going to chalk that up to pre-season excitement and the ability to take bigger risks because, you know, the games don’t count.
Dustin: Over. If Alexander can stay healthy he’ll net about 120 tackles. He’s a high-rate tackler and one of the most talented defenders on the entire roster. This could be the season where he breaks out.
Evan: Under. I’m with Jon on this one. The MIKE’s production mostly depends on who is on the interior and right now the Bucs have nothing but question marks behind Gerald McCoy with Beau Allen, Vita Vea, and Mitch Unrein nursing injuries. Alexander hasn’t looked so sharp during the preseason as well.
Gil: Over. Although, I really want to say under based on the amount of missed tackles we saw during preseason. But that can be rust. Alexander plays hard, fast, and with a chip on his shoulder. That’s always a good thing despite the missed tackles.
James: Over. If he stays healthy, Kwon is a tackling machine who always ends up around the ball. Not a stretch in the slightest to think he’ll hit this number.
Jon: Under. I think Kwon will get close, but this may depend on how well (and how many snaps) rookie Vita Vea plays.
Kyle: Over. Alexander should easily touch this number if he stays on the field for the entire season. He averages over 8 tackles a game in his career. If he simply plays 13 games at that rate he’s already nearing 110. Taking the over with confidence given his style of play and ability to make up for poor angles with closing speed.
6. NFC South wins - 2.5
Alex: Over. I think they go 4-2. I feel Carolina takes a step back this season and we sweep them. Believe they will split with New Orleans and Atlanta.
Bailey: Over. The NFC South is ridiculous, but the Bucs are being overlooked all because of Jameis Winston’s three-game suspension. 3-3 seems doable, with an outside shot at going 4-2. Each team will present a challenge, but Tampa Bay is capable of beating any of them.
David: Over. They’re getting four. And if they don’t get four, then I wonder who the next head coach will be?
Dustin: Over. I think Tampa Bay finishes with 3-4 division wins.
Evan: Over. Until last year’s 1-5 debacle, the Bucs were 7-5 in division play under Dirk Koetter. If the Bucs sneak one out against the Saints on opening weekend, all bets are off in the NFC South.
Gil: Over. Hey, I already said they’ll reach an 11-5 record. So, yeah...
James: Over. Taking a split at 3-3 with the NFC South could still put the Bucs in position to make the playoffs. Outside of the Saints, I don’t think any other team in the division has really set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.
Jon: Over. History says the Bucs will split with the Saints and either win both or lose both vs the Panthers. I think they manage to get to three.
Kyle: Over. As Jon mentions above, historically this team has managed to go over 2.5 and this years team is better equipped to do so.
7. Chandler Catanzaro made FG percentage - 83.5% (no XPs)
Alex: Under. It won’t be as bad as last year, but I think that the team would much rather have recently cut Dan Bailey then Catanzaro. I predict somewhere between 78 and 80%.
Bailey: Under. I don’t think Catanzaro will be a complete disaster, but from what I’ve seen of him, I’m not sold that he’s the answer to the Bucs’ issues in the kicking game. I think he’ll finish somewhere around the 80 to 82 percent mark. Considering the team’s recent past, that isn’t that bad.
David: Over. Chandler Can-Kick-Anzaro is going to finally help solve Tampa Bay’s kicking woes. For one, this offense will get him closer than we’ve seen kickers getting in the past few years. Who knows, maybe Roberto Aguayo could have even been successful this year!
Dustin: Under. I don’t believe Catanzaro is the answer to Tampa Bay’s kicking woes. If he starts out cold, he won’t remain on this team for long.
Evan: Under. Dear Lord, this is terrifying. A 25/30 season would make me weep with joy, but that’d still be only 83.3%, therefore coming in under this number. A boy can dream, can’t he?
Gil: Over. There is a black cloud filled with some kind of Voodoo spell over Raymond James Stadium that rains down on kickers. Can Catanzaro overcome its power? Only time will tell. But let’s be optimistic about this.
James: Under. I hated the signing when it happened and Can't-kick-enzaro hasn't done anything to ease those concerns. His percentage from 40+ has declined consistently and I have little to no faith he rights that ship. I'll gladly partake in an all-you-can eat crow buffet if he proves me wrong.
Jon: Over. Catanzaro’s field goal percentage from 2015 to 2017 is 83.1 percent, which ranks 28th in the league over that span. I’m going to be optimistic here and assume that in his fifth season Catanzaro can (and should) do better than that.
Kyle: Over. Catanzaro should be put into some pretty good positions by the offense in his first year here in Tampa. Over the last three seasons he has hovered right around this number and 2018 will be the year he helps fix the Buccaneers kicking issues putting fans hearts at ease.