Tom Brady responded to all skeptics by leading the Buccaneers to victory over the Chiefs at Super Bowl 55 on Sunday. So the next big question is, what are the Bucs’ chances of repeating themselves as Super Bowl champions next season – something the Chiefs simply failed to do in the 2020 campaign?
According to the latest previous Super Bowl 56 odds from DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is next year’s favorite at +550, while Tampa Bay and Green Bay are second, both at +900. In some other books, the Buccaneers are clearly No. 2 in solo at 9-1, ahead of several strong playoff teams from 2020, including the Bills, Ravens and Rams.
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Brady returning for another season to complete his two-year contract at 44 is the number one reason. The Buccaneers were far from a perfect team to win the Super Bowl as an NFC wildcard team at 11-5, but they peaked in the streak and claim an eight-game winning streak for next season. .
The heaviest NFC, however, has had a lot of parity with its top teams lately. Tampa Bay was the seventh NFC team to make it to the Super Bowl in as many seasons. The last NFC team that had a real chance at rehearsal was the 2014 Seahawks, who were turned down by the Brady Patriots at Super Bowl 49.
Here’s how the Buccaneers are positioned on their new quest to become the first consecutive NFL champion in 17 years:
Who is the Buccaners’ biggest NFC competition?
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, whom the Buccaneers upset in the NFC Championship game, are a good place to start. The Rams, who arrived at Super Bowl 53, believe they can now go further with their defense with Matthew Stafford leading their offense. The 49ers, who arrived at Super Bowl 54, are expected to be better in a lot of ways with much better health and maybe a QB upgrade as well.
The Saints and Seahawks, however, appear ready for the slips of their No.2 and No.3 seed, respectively. New Orleans will likely see Drew Brees retire, opening the door for Brady and Tampa Bay to achieve NFC South champion status. Seattle changes offense for Russell Wilson after his first-round playoff exit against Los Angeles.
Outside of that group, the best odds are with dark horses like the Cowboys, who have the potential to be a much more different and successful team with a healthy, re-signed Dak Prescott. With their recent history of going to the Super Bowl with their young coaches, the Rams and 49ers appear to be the biggest threats to the Buccaneers, and none have a great QB response to Brady after he comes through Brees, Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes in the eliminatory ones. Buccaneers as hunted seem to be better placed than all hunters.
Luckily and on paper, an AFC nemesis like the Chiefs again or the Bills stack up better against the Bucs so far than any NFC team.
What are the biggest concerns of the Buccaneers staff?
The Buccaneers don’t have a lot of holes, as evidenced by their surge in their playoff defense by winning Super Bowl 55. They backed up the No.1 run defense for two consecutive years with an excellent passing run , a solid tackle and improved youth coverage. Offensively, there wasn’t much they couldn’t do in the passing game with Brady and their deep and versatile receiving body, and powerful running play when needed from Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones .
There is no major salary cap issue, as the team has $ 28 million and more available, by OverTheCap.com. This will likely prevent them from cutting their two best sources of extra margin with no dead money, left tackle Donvoan Smith and center Ryan Jensen.
There are, however, decisions to be made with the defensive front seven that has dominated the Chiefs. Edge Rusher Shaquill Barrett, who starred on the $ 14.8 million guaranteed franchise label in 2020, is the highest priority. Inside linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh would be next on the list.
The Bucs can make him work with Barrett to sign a long-term deal or tag him again. Suh can probably be retained for a reasonable value at 34. Based on future contract values, David, at 31, could be a strange man, especially next to rising superstar Devin White.
It would be difficult for the Buccaneers to afford both Barrett and David due to the need to re-sign wide receiver Chris Godwin. Godwin is perhaps the best candidate for the tag. It makes sense to use that on him or on Barrett, with that worth around $ 16-17 million, and lock in the other one in the long run.
Also on the offensive skills front, the three key additions after Brady – tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Antonio Brown – are all waiting free agents. Regardless of Gronkowski’s decision, whether or not to stay with Brady, the Buccaneers have a contingency in OJ Howard’s healthy return to support Cameron Brate.
For Fournette, there’s Jones and second-year fullback Ke’Shawn Vaughn for now. If Brown isn’t selected for Brady, there’s Scotty Miller and promising sophomore Tyler Johnson. In either case, or in the event of David’s potential departure, they can find a good replacement or reinforcement with the overall No. 32 pick in the draft.
How strong is the Buccaneers’ schedule for 2021?
Based on the 2020 combined winning percentage (115-140-1, .451) of next season’s opponents, the Buccaneers have the second easiest behind the Eagles. It doesn’t guarantee the same level of weakness, as a lot of these bad teams will improve, but on the other hand, some of these good teams will regress as well.
Beyond their regular NFC South round-trip slate with the Saints, Falcons and Panthers, the Buccaneers will also play the second-place Wild Rams on the road and the second-place Bears at home. They also draw all of the NFC East weak, which can only improve a bit, and all of the AFC East above average. They get breaks there with the Cowboys, Giants, Bills and Dolphins in Tampa, with Brady’s “revenge game” against the Patriots being played in New England.
The Buccaneers should at worst tie their winning tally and have a good shot to move up to 13-3 to take over as the new NFC seed, with home playoff games heading into the Super Bowl next year.
The Chiefs almost matched their favorite odds and repeated. The Buccaneers have a great chance to exceed their high follow-up expectations with a clear and viable path to Super Bowl 56.