Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 Season Preview & Win Total Prediction

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Chris Godwin #14 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by Richie Grant #27 of the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 08, 2023. Alex Slitz/Getty Images/AFP

NFL Pick: 2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Under 6½ Wins (-145) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Under 6½ Wins (-145)
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For as quickly as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came together to win a Super Bowl in the 2020 season, their core has dissolved almost just as fast. A series of retirements ultimately led to the big one most expected when quarterback Tom Brady retired (again) after 23 seasons in the NFL. 

This one should stick. 

After the first losing season of his career, Brady’s time in Tampa is over, putting the team back in pursuit of finding a quarterback. But if the solution is underachiever Baker Mayfield, he is not taking over a normal division winner as the 2022 Buccaneers won one of the worst divisions in NFL history last season with an 8-9 record.

While the other teams in the NFC South have made improvements, the Buccaneers appear stuck in purgatory, and their over/under win total of 6.5 wins is tied for the 2nd-lowest number in the NFL this year at top-rated offshore sportsbooks.  

Does Tampa Bay implode without Brady’s good luck, or will this team still be competitive in the division?

The Changes That Matter 

Obviously, the Buccaneers have a new offensive coordinator and quarterback. Byron Leftwich will be replaced by Dave Canales, who has been with Pete Carroll for over a decade in Seattle. He was Geno Smith’s position coach last year during his breakout year but this will be his first time as an NFL offensive coordinator.  

While the Buccaneers drafted quarterback Kyle Trask in the 2nd round in 2021, it looks like Baker Mayfield will get another chance to lead a team in Week 1. Mayfield had that encouraging rookie season for Cleveland in 2018 as the No. 1 pick, rebounded with his best year in leading the Browns to a playoff win in 2020, but it has been all downhill ever since, and the Buccaneers are already his 4th team. 

With Mayfield, you get someone with spotty accuracy and inconsistent play. He will be more willing to hang in there than Brady was and find receivers downfield, but he will also miss the easy throws that extend drives. 

Biggest Downgrade

The area this might be the biggest downgrade is with the game on the line. No matter if you want to credit Brady or just cite his good fortune of things going his way more often than not, he knew how to thrive in late-game situations, including in 2022. If a team left a door open for him, he could still march down the field in a hurry and score in the no-huddle offense against a prevent defense. 

This is not Baker’s game. Despite his epic game-winning drive against the Raiders just hours after the Rams signed him, Mayfield is not good in these moments at all. He is 8-22 (.267) at game-winning drive opportunities, a far cry from Brady, who was 73-55 (.570) and did it more times than anyone ever has. 

Silver Lining

The good news is Chris Godwin should be closer to what he was with another offseason since the injury. The offensive line will welcome center Ryan Jensen back after a summer injury cost him everything but the playoff loss, which he was nuts to come back and play in. 

The defense should remain at least solid under Bowles’ guidance as that is his area of expertise, and they still have quality players there, including Vita Vea, Lavonte David, Shaquil Barrett, and Jamel Dean. The Buccaneers drafted defensive end Calijah Kancey in the 1st round, and he should be a Week 1 starter. 

But in a draft class heavy on linemen, do not expect many needle pushers from this group in 2023. This team is effectively in a rebuild.

2023 Schedule Analysis and Pick 

Just as the schedule and division helped Tampa Bay win the NFC South last year, that is likely going to happen for the division winner this year. The NFC South teams will face each other, the NFC North, and the AFC South, which could be the 3 weakest divisions in the NFL this year. 

Here are some notable Tampa Bay schedule facts to consider: 

  • Thanks to playing a 1st-place schedule, the Buccaneers will have to face the Bills (Week 8), Eagles (Week 3), and 49ers (Week 11) – elite teams the rest of the NFC South does not have to play at all.
  • Tampa Bay was 1-9 last year when allowing more than 16 points, and Mayfield is 1-12 in his last 13 starts when his team allows more than 16 points. The Buccaneers open in Minnesota as a 6½ underdog against what should be a high-scoring team, according to the latest NFL odds. They will also face the Lions (Week 6) and Jaguars (Week 16) in addition to those 3 aforementioned Super Bowl contenders. 
  • This could go either way, but Tampa could face 4 inexperienced quarterbacks after Thanksgiving in Anthony Richardson (Colts – Week 12), Bryce Young twice (Panthers), Desmond Ridder (Falcons – Week 14), and Jordan Love (Packers – Week 15). If those quarterbacks are to improve as the season goes on, those games become harder instead of feasting on inexperience. 
  • The Buccaneers also could face rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and the Texans in Week 9 instead of him seeing Bowles’ defense as one of his first games. 

That first point especially stands out as it is just hard to see this team with Mayfield beat the likes of Buffalo, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. That alone could be the difference in the Buccaneers not winning the division again as they are the only team playing those teams in the NFC South. 

Over or Under?

This team should not implode to the point of 2-15 or anything like that, but the fact is Bowles lost 11, 11, and 12 games in his last 3 seasons coaching the Jets, and he just had a losing record with Brady at quarterback. Even if it was a half-retired Brady, it was still a disappointment as Bowles appears to be the latest in a line of coaches who are great as defensive coordinators but not cut out for the top job. 

Tampa Bay going under 6.5 wins should be one of the best NFL picks you can make this year. This was a 5-12 team last year masquerading as an 8-9 division winner thanks to Brady’s devil magic and the state of the NFC South. Take him out of the equation and we should see the Buccaneers with a record that matches their rebuilding condition. 

NFL Pick: 2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Under 6½ Wins (-145) at BetOnline

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2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Under 6½ Wins (-145)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.

2022 Recap: What Retirement Looks Like 

Last offseason, Tom Brady had more than one foot out the door. For 40 days, he was retired from the NFL. But an ill-advised return at age 45 led to the most challenging and unsatisfying season of Brady’s Hall of Fame career. 

Despite a 2-0 start, the offense did not look good for the Buccaneers. Once the losses started rolling in, it became apparent there was never going to be a solution for offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who would fall on the sword after the season. 

But like we saw with Ben Roethlisberger at the end of his career in Pittsburgh, Brady looked like an old quarterback who was sick of taking hits. He was going to get rid of the ball as fast as possible, which makes it hard on the receivers to get open downfield as the plays have no time to develop. Almost every play has to be a shotgun pass, and the Buccaneers absolutely could not run the football (32nd across the board in rushing). 


What you had was a very one-dimensional offense that relied on short passes that gained almost no YAC as Mike Evans is best used deep and Chris Godwin was not 100% after a torn ACL.  

Brady’s quick release helped cut down on mistakes for the offense, but by the end of November, Tampa Bay was 5-6 with an offense that ranked No. 1 in lowest sack rate, No. 1 in lowest interception rate, and No. 27 in scoring at 18.2 points per game – an unheard-of combination that should be impossible. 

Such an offense never existed in NFL history that could be stopped cold this often without sacks and interceptions getting the best of them. If not for some disastrous late-game management by the Rams, Saints, and Cardinals, the Buccaneers would have been in the running for the No. 1 pick in the draft instead of a division title. 

Saving Grace

But the weak division was always the saving grace for Tampa, and sure enough, Brady played his best game of the year against Carolina in Week 17 to win another division title. But the Buccaneers would lose to Atlanta the following week to finish 8-9, making Todd Bowles the only coach to have a losing record with Brady as his quarterback. 

Despite some hype that Tampa Bay would win the wild card game at home over a Dallas team they embarrassed 19-3 in Week 1, it was all Dallas in that 31-14 final. Dak Prescott vastly outplayed Brady in what would be the final game of his career. 

The Buccaneers were able to stay ahead of the other NFC South teams who all finished 7-10, but things should look different in 2023.