Can you believe it’s September? The 2020 NFL season starts in just a few days!
So, what better time to make some predictions in an unpredictable time?
Our annual Predictions Vault piece is back and should be more interesting than ever when you consider everything that has happened over the offseason. Jon Marchant finished 2019 with the most predictions (6) and is back to defend his title in 2020.
Like each year, we will set a certain number and the crew will give their prediction on whether the Bucs or that individual player will go over or under said number.
So what should we —and y’all— expect from the Bucs in 2020? Let’s find out.
1. Tom Brady passing stats - 4,750 1⁄2 yards and 26 1⁄2 TDs
Bailey: Over. Let me get things rolling here by saying I’m never all that confident when it comes to my success rate in these predictions. I’ve done this with Bucs Nation for three seasons now, and each year, I look at these over/unders with the same indecisiveness as I do when mulling over my dinner options on a Friday night. With that being said, I wanted to say under on the yards and over on the touchdowns, but that’s not how this game works. So, I’ll take the over for both. Why not? The G.O.A.T. can still sling it, he’s got a ton of strong weapons at his disposal and the offense should be set up for him to do some damage.
Chris: Over. While 4,750 yards and 27 touchdowns is no easy feat, this air it out passing attack is something that Brady hasn’t seen in a long time. First off, The death by a thousand cuts style of offense that New England has run under Josh McDaniel’s is incredibly different from Arians’. Second, last season in New England, with next to no weapons, Brady hit a little over 4,000 yards, and threw for 24 touchdowns. It would criminal for me to say he couldn’t throw 750 more yards, and three more touchdowns with the likes of Evans, Godwin, and Gronk.
David: Under. That’s a lot of yards, and a lot of touchdowns. He’ll get closer to the touchdown mark than the yards, but even in a pass-happy offense, when they can preserve Brady’s 43-year old arm the Bucs would be wise to do so.
James: I don’t know if this is cheating or not, but I want to say under on yards, over on touchdowns. Look, Brady isn’t going to be in a situation where the Bucs are playing from behind a ton. Last year’s slow start on defense mixed with a ridiculous amount of turnovers meant the Bucs had to air it out quite a bit. I think we’re looking at a yardage around the 4,000 mark while hitting 28-30 touchdowns for the GOAT.
Evan: I’m with Chris/Bailey and anti-David (lol). I think Brady hits both marks. The dude is going to be slingin’ the rock and this offense is set up beautifully for him to take advantage of the every level of the field.
He’ll be able to move the chains when needed on a consistent basis and he’ll also be able to take the deep shot when needed. I highly doubt this offense will be looking to take shots on every play, even if a receiver is going the distance on their route.
We just know Brady will be motivated this year and a motivated Brady is usually a successful Brady. And successful Brady will be the foundation for 2020 Tompa Bay Brady.
And yes, James, that’s cheating. But I’ll allow it.
Gil: I can easily say Brady will not hit the mark on the yards here but will do so on the touchdowns. Yes, Arians loves him some quarterback-led offensive power, but I feel the Buccaneers won’t be playing from behind as often as they were in the past. So with that said, the games will be more manageable which will remove the need for being so pass-crazy. I see him hitting the under on the yards, over on the touchdowns.
Jon: Under. This is a weird double whammy, but I’m with David here. I’m going definitely under on yards, easily while Brady may possibly go over on the touchdowns. But since this is an all or nothing exercise, I’m going under.
Ben: I’m going to have to agree with David on this one. I just don't see him throwing for 4,750+ yards at this point in his career. I think he has a much better chance at throwing for 26+ touchdowns. As dangerous as the Bucs passing game will be, Brady’s arm won’t be as durable as it used to.
Jason: Over. I’m going to say over on this one. Tom has a lot of weapons, which includes two Pro-Bowl targets, arguably the best receiving combo in the league. Combine them with pass catching running backs McCoy, Ogunbwale, and Vaughn. Not to mention the dynamic trio of tight ends! Brady is primed and ready to gain plenty of yardage and touchdowns to surpass Brees as the all-time pass leader in the NFL.
2. Tom Brady interceptions - 10 1⁄2
Gil: Under. I do not see in any way shape or form Brady throwing double digit picks. I understand what some of my guys here are saying, like Bailey mentioning how routes will be a matter of timing. But Brady is cerebral. He’ll know when to throw the ball and where the ball needs to be placed.
Jason: Under, under, under! I have to agree with Gil. There’s no way he throws double digit picks this year with the offensive strength and intelligence this Bucs team has. As long as the linemen and running backs are blocking well in pass pro, and they aren’t making any mental errors down the field like missed routes. This is why I think Godwin and Scotty Miller will shine this year. They have a lot of upside this year in the slot to reduce the risk. Brady is not interested in the high risk/high reward passes like Winston was. He’s tends to be a lot smarter than most other quarterbacks in that regard.
Evan: Over. I think Brady is going to play fast and loose, but not reckless. He’s going to have fun this year, which means he is going to sling the ball all over the yard. Plus, we saw some miscommunication between Jameis Winston and his receivers that lead to interceptions in 2019, so I’m sure we will see that on a couple of occasions this year.
Bailey: Over. Evan and I talked about this with Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds on a recent episode of The North & South Podcast, and we all pretty much agreed that we could see some more interceptions from Brady this year than he is used to throwing. A lot of that comes down to Bruce Arians’ offense and the various timing routes we’ll see. I wouldn’t be surprised if those routes present some early problems in the first few weeks of the season before Brady finds a groove and gets more comfortable with his new receivers.
Chris: Over. The first year in a Bruce Arians offense tends to force quarterbacks to throw more interceptions than they typically do. While he wont come close to 30, I think he’ll definitely throw 11 or more.
James: Under. Brady has thrown double-digit touchdowns once since 2014. No reason, in my opinion, to think he won’t be as protective of the football as we’ve seen in recent years. Single digits it is, my friends - for the sixth time in seven years.
Ben: Over. It will take some time for Brady to get used to his receivers in game. As Evan said, we saw some miscommunication between Jameis Winston and his receivers in 2019. And Winston had played along most of those guys for years. So I definitely think we will see some miscommunication early on in the season.
Jon: Over. I’m going over also, but I think it’ll be really close, like in 11-15 range. In recent years the Patriots switched to a quick-hit YAC-heavy pass attack that didn’t often ask Brady to throw past 15 yards downfield. We know Bruce Arians’ attack is more aggressive, and being more aggressive will result in more turnovers. When you take risks to gain bigger chunks of yardage, that’s the tradeoff. The nature of that type of attack and the math of it backs up being more aggressive as the right way to go....as long as you don’t let the turnovers get out of hand, as Winston did. So while Brady won’t repeat Winston’s mistakes, it’s probably safe to say he’ll throw more picks than he has since maybe 2011.
David: Over. I’m going over just because of the sheer number of passes he’ll likely throw, and the growing pains we might expect in the early part of the season. I could see three or four in first quarter of the season, but then wouldn’t expect any more than ten the rest of the way.
3. Ronald Jones II rushing yards - 1,000 1⁄2
Bailey: Under, but not by all that much. RoJo ran for 724 yards in 2019, and that was while splitting carries with Peyton Barber for most of the season. I think he’ll see a higher volume of touches in 2020, as he’s being trusted as the lead back. But I’m just not quite ready to predict 1,000 yards on the ground for Jones just yet, as LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn will likely eat into his carries at least some, plus it remains to be seen whether or not Tampa Bay’s offensive line has improved its run blocking ability. If he continues on the trajectory he seems to be on, though, I think RoJo has 1,000-yard season potential in his future.
Evan: Over. I wrote 1,200 words not too along ago on how Ronald Jones II can be a top-10 back in 2020. Reaching 1,000 yards would certainly be a part of that. I don’t know if he’ll be top-10, but I’m definitely not backing down and saying he won’t hit 1k on the ground!
And Leonard Fournette be damned! RoJo gets it!
David: Under. I want to believe he can reach it, but I feel a pretty even split between rushing and receiving yards coming, with RoJo falling just shy of 1,000 rushing yards. Unless he comes into Week 17 150-yards away, in which case all bets are off.
Gil: Under. I’m just not sold, yet. And it’s not a bad thing. I just think there are too many variables for a single running back in this Bucs offense to hit the 1K milestone rushing. I get the need for respecting the pass now, but holes still need to open up and while there may be more running plays called in 2020, questions — from me — still remain.
James: Under, but not by much. I think RoJo eclipses the 900-yard mark by being the number one guy. However, there will still be a rotation of sorts to worry about with LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Believe me, I hope I’m wrong - I just don’t see this as the season where Jones hits that 1,000 yard plateau.
Chris: Over, but only slightly. As Bailey already said, he ran for 724 yards while splitting carries with Peyton Barber. While the Bucs added the likes of Fournette, LeSean McCoy, and Vaughn, I don’t think that they’ll take as many carries away as Barber did. Especially because McCoy holds the ball like a loaf of bread, and Arians isn’t a huge fan of fumbles. This, combined with the hopefully improved run blocking from the right side of the line, leads me to think that he’ll hit the mark.
Jason: Under. But just like Bailey stated, not by much. I’m thinking somewhere in the vicinity of 900. That running back room is stacked. The Bucs have a lot of talent, and it’s going to come down to situational football at the end of the day. This team has good depth in all elements that it won’t be a surprise if we see a backfield by committee, although there will be plenty of touches for Rojo.
Jon: Under. This is difficult. Before Fournette was added, I didn’t think there was anyone on the roster who could take carries away from RoJo, but now that has changed. Running back is also the most injured position in the league, and only about half of all RB’s get to 1,000 yards. I like RoJo and think he will have a good year, but I will roll the dice and go under.
Ben: Over. I think this season has the potential to be the breakout year for Jones. Running backs typically thrive in an offense with Tom Brady. This is usually because defenses always think the pass is coming and are sometimes caught off guard by the run. For example, take a look at Sony Michel. In his first two seasons, he had Brady as his quarterback. He rushed for 931 yards in 2018 and 912 yards in 2019. The Bucs offense is going to do everything they can throw defenses off. So, I think Jones will thrive in that offense this season.
4. Mike Evans receiving stats - 67 1⁄2 rec, 1,175 1⁄2 yards and 7 1⁄2 TDs
Bailey: Over. Give me the over, just because. Mike Evans is the best receiver in franchise history and he’ll only add to his already-impressive resume in 2020. The receptions total here is the only reason I almost considered picking the under. I think he hits around 1,250 receiving yards and eight or nine scores. That pesky reception total, though...
James: Under across the board. There’s one ball and a whole lotta playmakers on that field. Now, that said, I do believe that Evans will become the sole possessor of the “most consecutive 1,000 yard seasons to begin a career” record by hitting 1,000 again - but this is the year where Godwin wins the stat battle with the Bucs’ number one receiver.
Chris: Over. Looks like I may be taking every over on this list, which can’t bode well for my record but oh well. Mike Evans missed 3 games last season and hit almost all of these marks. Add 3 games and he hits well over these. In his entire career, he’s hit under 67.5 receptions just once (in 13 games), and with this style of offense, I don’t think the yards or touchdowns are going to come down.
Gil: Over. Under. Over. In that order. It can also go under, over, under. Just you wait until Brady starts getting used to Godwin, too. But officially, I say over on the receptions, under on the yards, definitely over on the touchdowns.
Evan: Over. Evans finished with 68 receptions for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns last year. If he goes under receptions-wise, it will be the fewest receptions in a single season since his rookie year. He also reached the above numbers after missing 3-3/4 games. There’s no reason to think he can’t eclipse this stat line.
David: Hmmmmm, unover? I don’t like this stat line. I’ll go under, just because there’s only one ball, amirite?
Ben: Over. I believe that Evans will become Brady’s favorite receiver. If the Bucs offensive line can give Brady some time, Evans is going to be getting the ball a ton. I think this category all depends on how the Bucs offensive line holds up. I also think Evans will be the top red zone target.
Jon: Under. This is a definite under for me, and it has nothing to do with Evans. Because of Brady, who is a 43-yo that understandably doesn’t like to take hits from insane NFL defenders anymore. And he’s used to getting rid of the ball quickly. Arians’ offense generally requires a QB willing to stand in the pocket at the last second and take a hit to deliver the football, often taking 100+ hits a season. I don’t believe Brady is that type of quarterback anymore. Further, Evans matched Winston’s YOLO skill sets, and Brady is far more methodical. He will be more committed to finding the right and open man, rather than ‘his guy’. I think all of that spells a huge reduction in Evans’ role this season, perhaps his first where he doesn’t gain 1,000 yards.
Jason: Can I pick under, under, over? Listen, Evans is simply not going to be the focal point for this offense, at least not this year. He’s a great wide receiver, no doubt, but Winston hung his career on having a reliable Pro-Bowler to throw to. Throw Godwin in the mix coming off of the gang buster season he had last year, and Gronk, Howard and Brate? There’s just no need to constantly rely on one receiver. Plus, Brady is one of the most intelligent situational quarterbacks ever to play the game. Ultimately, I’m going under but only on yards and receptions; I’ll give him 1 extra touchdown.
5. Rob Gronkowski receiving yards - 650 1⁄2
Chris: Under. Guess I spoke too soon on that last one. While Gronk may be the best tight end in NFL history (jury is still out), he isn’t what he once was. This combined with the lack of tight end use in the BA system, the likes of Howard and Brate being there, and the stellar receivers, I don’t see him going over 650 yards. However, I think he’ll get close.
David: Under. I’m in the ‘O.J. is still number one’, camp.
Evan: Under. Outside of his rookie season, Gronk has never gone under 650 receiving yards in a year where he’s played at least 13 games. But I’m not sure how his body will hold up in 2020 and I’m definitely not sure about how often he’ll see the field. Brady will look his way when he is on the field, but there are currently a lot of questions around Gronk.
I’m with David about O.J., as well. He’s had a great camp and should still be the Bucs’ No. 1 target (tight end-wise).
James: Under. O.J. Howard is the every down, between the 20’s tight end for this team. I think Gronk will see the majority of his snaps in the red zone which will drastically hinder his ability to rack up that many yards. He’ll lead the tight ends in touchdowns, but this is too many yards for Gronkowski.
Bailey: Under. I’m really excited about Gronk being a Buc, but I think his value will show more on third downs and in the red zone. He’s a big-bodied target that Brady is familiar with. But considering O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate are sure to have their share of targets, I think the future Hall of Famer ends up shy of 650.
Jon: Under. Easiest under of this series. I am firmly in the camp that I would be surprised if Gronk finishes out four games this season, much less 16. Even if Gronk somehow cortisol-ed his way to 16 games I don’t think he’d get the 650 yards due to him likely being 4th on the target priority list despite his history with Brady.
Ben: Under. I will have to agree with everyone else here. I think Howard will be the number one guy for this season. The only time that I think Gronk will be making some noise is in the red zone because we all know what that Brady-Gronk combination is like in the red zone.
Jason: Under. I was going to raise a bunch of exclamations about how under he’ll be, but after thinking about it a little more he may actually come close. He’ll be under the 650 yard mark for sure, but not much. He had 682 yards in 2018 prior to his retirement where he was a bit banged up, heavier, slower and wasn’t relied on as much as prior years. His best season being 2015 at 1,176 yards. I’ve been saying it for a bit now; I predict Gronk will be used as a decoy for the entire first half of the season. I think we’ll see defenses key in on Gronk at first, just to make sure they take Brady’s old favorite target away. Once the defenses start keying in on the other players and spreading out the coverage, that’s where Gronk will start making his money. The Bucs are just too deep at tight end that they’ll rotate those guys around playing two at a time, if not the three tight end system that BA has eluded to in the past. I’m putting it out there that we’ll see him in the vicinity of 550 yards.
Gil: Under. Next question...
6. Shaquil Barrett sacks - 11.5
Gil: Over. I say over for Shaq. But cautiously. I feel offenses will scheme better for him. But JPP needs to complement him well on the other side.
Jason: Over. Shaq finally found his groove. No way he’s going too far down from his 19.5 sack performance in 2019. Maybe by a few, but not much. Offensive lines still have to contend with some very talented Buccaneer rushers in Vea, Suh and Gholston, let alone JPP on the other side. So, even if they double up on any one of them, someone is going to get in the backfield. Might as well be Barrett. The way the Bucs are stacked, offensive lines will have to spread out, block one-on-one which I believe will continue to allow Barrett to get about 14 sacks this year, +-1.
Bailey: Over, but I don’t think he’s getting all that close to 19.5 again. It would be hard to expect him to hit that mark for the second straight season. I’d say he’ll be more in the 12-14 range
Chris: Over but just slightly. I’ll go with Bailey and say 12-14 in 2020. While he finished with 19.5 in 2019, a full season of JPP will eat into those totals. Plus, I would have to think that he gets a little more attention after leading the league in sacks just a year ago.
David: Over. He won’t reach the number he did in 2019, but it wasn’t a fluke either. 13-15 is my projection if he plays all seventeen games. Especially if Jason Pierre-Paul plays all seventeen on the opposite side.
James: Over. No, he isn’t getting 19.5 this year, but I can see him hitting the teens. With Jason Pierre-Paul healthy and playing from the jump, some of those early Shaq sacks are going to end up in JPP’s stat line. Both players will hit low-to-mid teens in 2020.
Evan: Under. This one is tough. Like really tough.
If everyone on defense stays healthy, then Shaq should hit or eclipse this number. But there are depth issues with the front seven where if another major player e.g. Devin White, Lavonte David, Vita Vea, etc. were to go down, then it could severely limit Shaq’s progress.
I just think there are too many equations that have to work properly in order for him to get past this number. Plus, the contrarian in me is kicking in at this moment.
Jon: Under. Barrett is a good player and a free agency steal. But the facts are the facts. While he’s a very good player he’s not a top tier athlete, and that’s what the elite pass rushers are. I am also lower on his surrounding talent of Suh and JPP; as they age they will create less opportunities for Barrett, the kind that he feasted on last year. That means Barrett is very unlikely to be a consistent double-digit sack artist. I think 7-10 is his ceiling this year.
Ben: Over. But I think the points which Evan made were spot on. If the defense has a few injuries, it could very well impact these numbers.
7. Devin White total tackles - 105 1⁄2
Ben: Over. The only thing that could possibly stop him from doing this is injuries. As Chris said, barring injuries, I think this will definitely be an over.
James: Over. He’s a beast and he’s going to improve over an already impressive rookie season. In fact, he may challenge Lavonte David for most tackles on the team this year. The torch may not be passed so much as straight up taken before too long.
Evan: Over. In order to get to 106 tackles, White has to average 6.6 (basically 7) tackles per game.
Well, it just so happened that White averaged 7.2 tackles per game (80 total in 11 games) once he returned from injury in 2019.
He’s considered a darkhorse MVP candidate for both the team and the defense in general, which makes sense considering what we saw toward the end of last year. As long as he’s healthy, there won’t be any issue reaching this number.
David: Over. An unhealthy rookie Devin White almost hit 100-tackles in 2019. One year under his belt, and healthy, he’ll blow this mark out of the park.
Bailey: Over. Easiest pick so far for me, really. White is a stud, and with the added benefit of having a year of experience in Todd Bowles’ defense, he’ll be flying all over the field for Tampa Bay in 2020.
Chris: Over. Devin White averaged 7 tackles a game last year in only 13 games, all while in his first year. Like Evan said, all he’s got to do is average about 7 a game in 2020 to hit the over which should be a piece of cake. Barring injuries, this should be a slam dunk.
Jon: Under. I think he could get close, but David is the real master here and he’ll take away enough opportunities that I just can’t see it happening. I can see White getting 85-95, but not 105.
Jason: I’ll go over as well. Evan broke it down best with the 6.6 tackles per game to make it to 106. Then Chris came in with the 7/13 stat line from 2019. It’s a no brainer! White is the young blood with a season behind him. Being his second year, I’m sure Todd Bowles will give him more of his own stunts. He knows the system, he knows his competition a bit better and the game has slowed down for him a bit. He’s primed for several 10+ tackle games.
Gil: Over. I feel the second-year stud from LSU will be all over the field in 2020 (see what I did there?). Plus, he’s been committed to staying in shape this offseason (not that he wasn’t last season) but that will help him stay on the field more this season.
8. Jamel Dean interceptions - 3 1⁄2
Bailey: Over. Four picks for the second-year corner would seem to be a fair expectation. He proved last year that he has the talent to play in this league, and I expect him to be up to the task of covering some great receivers this fall.
Chris: Over. I don’t like to make predictions about interceptions because a lot of things can happen that lead to a lot, or lead to a little. However, with 2 interceptions and 17 passes defensed in limited playing time in 2019, I don’t see how he doesn’t snag 2 more with a full season.
David: Over. Growth inspires further growth. Don’t expect Dean to get comfortable. The hungry young cornerback is going to take every rep he gets against the best in the business, and use it to turn himself into a menace against other quarterbacks.
Evan: Under. But not by much. I’m thinking three picks. The Bucs secondary can knock down passes, but they seem to have trouble with actually recording interceptions. Plus, there may be some growing pains for Dean in 2020 that could apply to his final total.
James: Over. Dean came on strong - real strong - down the stretch in 2019. He’s going to come out of the gates flying and will turn some of those passes defensed into possessions stolen - something the defense is stressing the importance of this year. I could see Dean coming away with half a dozen picks this season.
Jon: Over. Dean played well after his playing time increased when Vernon Hargreaves was cut near the halfway point of last season. I think his athleticism and length will give him the ability while his inexperience will give him the opportunities as opponent QBs test him in coverage.
Ben: Over. And I believe over because of his play toward the end of last season. I think a lot of Bucs games will be a ton of passing battles and teams will try to throw the ball a ton. He will have lots of opportunity to do this.
Jason: Over. He had 2 INTs last season, not even being the starter and only playing 8 games. With the changes at corner hopefully behind the Bucs, he should end up on the right side of things with plenty of opportunity to prove himself. There is some competition in the position with Carlton Davis, but as the others stated, Dean keeps impressing. I’ll give him 4 INTs for the year.
Gil: Over. He’ll keep impressing.
9. Antoine Winfield Jr. starts - 7 1⁄2
Bailey: Over. Bruce Arians said recently that the rookie will be competing for a starting job very quickly. The Bucs have talent at safety, but I like Winfield’s potential to be a big difference-maker for this defense once he gets settled in. I don’t think it’ll take him long, so he’ll be well over this mark, assuming he stays healthy.
Chris: Over and this one’s easy. The safety room for the Bucs isn’t great by any means. The coverage wasn’t the best, even down the stretch when the secondary was playing better. While I think Jordan Whitehead will play SS, I don’t think Mike Edwards is better than Winfield Jr., so I think Winfield Jr. will take FS early enough in the season that he’ll start at least 8 games.
David: Over. We won’t get past Week 4 before Winfield Jr. takes the starting job. Only way he’ll lose it is injury.
Evan: Under. But do starts really matter? What really matters is the number/percentage of snaps played, which Winfield Jr. should receive plenty of. I think the Bucs really like Andrew Adams, who played over 600 snaps on defense last year. The good thing for Winfield Jr. is that Bowles loves to rotate safeties. But as long as Winfield sees the field in a general capacity often, I don’t really think the starts matter.
(It should be noted that I wrote up these questions, so I’m criticizing myself!)
James: Over. Will not surprise me one little bit if Winfield Jr. is the week one starter. Barring injury (which should cause this question to be negated come the end of the year) then Winfield Jr. will certainly start double-digit games - and possibly all sixteen.
Jon: Under? Over? I guess I’ll go under. My only question is as a rookie and likely to be a dime and/or nickel player, how do you quantify that as a starter? I consider the top three corners - boundary, field, and slot, as all starters. Then you have the two safeties. I think Winfield is probably in that 5-6 DB range, where he’ll get on the field early in obvious passing down situations and sub-packages, but enough to start more than half of the season’s games? You gotta show me what you got first.
Gil: Over. I agree with Jon’s statement on Winfield. But I love I’ve heard and seen of the kid so far. But overall, he has a lot to prove, just like any other rookie.
Ben: Over. Winfield was by far my favorite pick from this seasons draft. I agree with James. I think he has a legitimate shot at being a week one starter. The only thing that I think stands in the way of him starting 8+ games would be an injury.
Jason: Over. Antoine Winfield Jr. is already listed as the starter at strong safety on the Bucs official depth chart. It’s his job to lose. You don’t draft a guy in the second round to bench him if he’s needed. And he’s needed! The only way i see him not starting is if Bowles ends up changing the scheme in which we would likely see Whitehead play a solo role at free. However, I don’t think the scheme will change often, so Winfield Jr. will get plenty of opportunity and start just about ever game this year.
10. Buccaneers total team sacks - 39 1⁄2
Gil: Under. This one is tough. Reason being is I am concerned about some regression (from Shaw, for example) and wear and tear from a lack of an offseason. I know all the other teams will be on the same level of playing from that standpoint, but still. Unless the LBs will be running wild more often than last year I’d say an easy under for me, Bob.
Bailey: Over. Losing Carl Nassib hurts and it’s fair to assume there’ll be some regression from Shaquil Barrett. But if we get more games out of Jason Pierre-Paul in 2020 and Bowles has Devin White and Lavonte David blitzing more in 2020, I think the Bucs can hit 40 or more. They’ll easily surpass that mark if Vita Vea takes the next step as a pass rusher.
Chris: Over. They had 47 sacks in 2019 in their first year in a Bowles defense. While Shaq won’t take 19.5 of them, the supporting cast has all the potential to help this team hit well over 39.5.
David: Over. Fewer turnovers, better offensive efficiency, the Bucs defense is going to find themselves in a lot of late game pass defense situations. That means a lot of pass rushing opportunities for one of the best unit’s in the league.
Evan: Under. This is another tough one, but it looks like the Bucs are due for a regression with the questionable depth on defense. Granted, a healthy JPP for all 16 games should help offset Shaq’s inevitable decline, but can JPP stick around for all 16 games? I expect Bowles to employ more ILB blitzes with LVD and Devin and more corner/safety blitzes now that the secondary has more experience, but everything right now tells me the Bucs will take a step back in the pass rush department. 40 sacks was the average mark in the NFL in 2019, so 39.5 or less would mean a less-than-average pass rush. That sounds harsh, but I think that will be the reality in 2020.
As Bailey said, Vea’s development holds the key to all of this.
James: Over. I already predicted both JPP and Barrett will both be in the teens. That meant the rest of the team needs to come up with - at minimum - fourteen sacks between all the rest of them? Yeah. HAMMER the over on this one.
Jon: Under. I think Barrett naturally regresses in a big way, JPP and Suh are a year older, and I just don’t think Vea was anything close to the Haloti Ngata comparison that was often made of him. Ngata was already polished as a pass rusher when he was drafted and Vea was nowhere near that level at the same stage. I think the Bucs over-drafted a good nose tackle that will be hit or miss in the pass rush arena. The group was collectively 20th in adjusted sack rate (sacks per pass attempt) last season. Even with Bowles being blitz-heavy and sending LBs and DBs, I think they fall short unless they have an extended run in the playoffs.
Ben: Over. And as I stated before, I think they will have lots of opportunity because I think many games will be passing battles which will give lots of opportunity.
Jason: Over. I expect this team to be way better than 2019, especially on defense. Barrett has finally found his groove. Vita is expected to be healthy once he gets the club off, and JPP is strong and healthy. I feel good about the condition of Suh and Gholston, who are both having a really good training camp. The Bucs have some difficult contests to deal with. They’ll be defending against some of the greatest offenses in the league - Saints, Green Bay, Kansas City and LA. My gut tells me that Bowles will come at these teams with everything he has at his disposal. Stunt after stunt, blitz after blitz, he’ll apply much more pressure than we saw last year. Plus, if the offense keep the defense off the field long enough, they’ll be fully rested each series to come out swinging hard.
11. Total amount of games the Bucs/NFL play in 2020 - 8 1⁄2
Bailey: Over. Even if there was a time when I wasn’t sure how the season would happen, part of me always felt like the NFL was just going to push through. We’re now at a point where I think the whole season gets played.
Chris: Over. The NFL will play a full slate of games in 2020.
David: Over. They’re playing all of them.
Evan: Over. I once thought the NFL would struggle putting a viable product on the field in 2020, but it looks like the players, coaches, and staff are all buying in when it comes to social distancing and following the proper protocols to limit exposure to the Coronavirus.
We still gotta see what happens when the pads come on, but right now everything looks very, very promising.
James: Over. We’re getting all sixteen regular season games. Double hammer this over.
Jon: Over. I don’t actually believe that it’s safe for any sports to be played, but I will admit that bubbles work. The NFL isn’t doing one, but it does have the money to massively and consistently test the players with quick test result turnarounds. That ensures that any outbreak should be caught relatively quickly before it has a chance to spread enough to knock out half a team. That means I think the NFL plays a full schedule, even if there’s going to be twists and turns and teams lose position groups here and there. But there’s a non-zero chance the league gets shut down should a massive outbreak happen or a player collapses due to the potential heart problem side-effects.
Ben: Over. I agree with Jon. I don't think that it is the safest thing but I still believe they will play a lot of games. There’s still a lot that we don't know and who knows how the season will go. At one point, I would have guaranteed that the NFL either delayed or didn't play the season. But now, I at least have some hope.
Jason: Over. Originally, I wasn’t that confident, but we are finally seeing the COVID numbers go down, including in Tampa Bay. So far, the players seem to be doing the right thing from day to day, staying isolated, staying healthy and not doing anything stupid. The NFL invested a lot of time and money in ensuring they continue to get their return on investment year over year. It’ll come down to how the numbers look after the first couple of weeks with the traveling teams. As long as they apply their protocols, reduce contact, conduct their tracing and most of all have the proper amount of depth at each position, they’ll keep playing. The same can’t be said about the fans though, as I don’t think we’ll see any in the stands even later in the season.
Gil: Over. Eight games puts you into November. By then there is a projected increase in cases from health experts. But so far, players have seen to get and understand the bigger picture. Plus, the NFL has contingency plans and an option in case an outbreak happens even in just one city where all teams still end up playing a full schedule at the same time.
That is money.
That is NFL confidence.
And because of that, I say over.
What are your predictions for the 2020 season? Let us know in the comments below!