Tom Brady’s decision to spend the next years of his football life in Tampa Bay sent shock waves through the NFL. When a sport’s biggest star, and perhaps its all-time best player, changes teams, it’s always big news, even if that player just turned 43.
A ton of speculation arose not only as to why Brady left New England, but also why he chose Tampa Bay. Why would a player so accomplished pick a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs in 12 years and has won double-digit games just once in that span, instead of the Patriots, perennial Super Bowl contenders who have won 10 or more games every year in that period?
Well, perhaps he had access to some of the following information, which pointed to an almost certain resurgence by the Buccaneers in 2020 even before he arrived.
By adding Brady, Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl odds immediately jumped from 40/1 to 22/1, according to Caesars. They were bet rapidly, and by the end of the first day, the odds had moved to 14/1 and 13/2 to win the NFC. Perhaps those jumps still weren’t enough and make the 14/1 price still seem like a strong value. Let’s dig into this and see if you are persuaded enough to invest in the Buccaneers for 2020.
• Tampa Bay scored 458 points in 2019. The Bucs’ total was the seventh most in the last 28 seasons by a team that failed to make the playoffs. The six teams that scored more in that span were the 2004 Chiefs with 483, the 2014 Eagles with 474, the 2016 Saints with 469, the 2002 Chiefs with 467, the 2008 Saints with 463 and the 2012 Saints with 461. The combined record of those teams the following season was 67-29, an average of 11.1 wins. Only one missed the playoffs, and the 2009 Saints won the Super Bowl.
• Turnovers were the Bucs’ biggest problem. It’s no secret: QB Jameis Winston’s turnovers almost single-handedly kept Tampa Bay from achieving its potential. He threw 30 interceptions last year. Brady has thrown 29 in the last four seasons combined. The Bucs also lost 11 fumbles for a total of 41 giveaways, leading to a turnover differential of -13. Of the last 33 teams that endured seasons with turnover differentials of -13 or worse, seven had worse records the next year, four stayed the same and 22 improved.
• The Bucs actually outscored their opponents last year. Seven of the last nine teams that had negative turnover differentials but positive point differentials and failed to make the playoffs rebounded to do so the next season, including Tennessee in 2019. Tampa Bay overcame this situation enough to outscore its opponents 458-449. According to the trend just shown, the Bucs have a 77.8 percent chance to make the playoffs in 2020.
• Six of the Bucs’ nine losses were by a touchdown or less. Close losses are another sign of a team that could show a drastic improvement the next season.
• The Bucs will face a third-place schedule this season. Only six of their 16 opponents had winning records.
None of this even takes into account that Brady has a career 219-64 regular-season record (30-11 in playoffs) and never has endured a losing season. Even if he just maintains close to that 76.8 percent winning percentage, the Bucs would be headed to a 12-4 season.