Tampa Bay Buccaneers: nfl FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were born into the NFL in 1976 along with Seattle Seahawks. The pair represented the 27th & 28th franchises in the league, and both were slotted into the AFC West. Naturally, that was an odd geographical pairing for a team from Florida, and sure enough Tampa was moved to the NFC Central the year afterwards (In 2002, the Buccaneers would move a third time, to their current home in the NFC South).
Tampa Bay employed a unique color scheme upon its founding – light-orange and white jerseys now known as the “Creamsicle” unis – and a pirate with a plumed hat and a dagger in his mouth. The team was rebranded into their current red, white, and pewter scheme in 1997, swapping out the pirate logo for a flag of a skull and crossing swords over a football.
Initially, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers odds for success were low. But, incredibly, coach Jack McKay took the Buccaneers to the NFC title game three years into their existence. McKay had built the #1 defense in the league, led by HOF DE Lee Roy Selmon, who happened to be the Buccaneers first ever draft pick (#1 overall in 1976). A bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win their first playoff game also would’ve paid that season, as the Bucs beat Philadelphia, 24-17, in the divisional round, despite being 4.5-point home underdogs. However, a bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to advance to their first-ever Super Bowl would not pay, as the team would fall to the Los Angeles Rams, 9-0, in the NFC championship game.
McKay won another division title in 1981, but they were blown out by Dallas in the divisional round. The Buccaneers would earn yet another playoff slot in the strike-shortened season of 1982, only to be knocked out by Dallas yet again. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers odds plummeted after that loss, because the rest of the way would be marked by ill-advised decisions.
Most notable were the players Tampa let get away. QB Doug Williams was a fixture on the Buccaneers’ early playoff teams, but he left for the USFL because of a contract dispute and later won a Super Bowl with the Redskins. The team drafted Bo Jackson first overall in 1986, even after Jackson had said publicly he would never suit up for the team. Jackson, obviously, chose to play baseball, before returning to the NFL and playing for the Raiders. Tampa also selected QB Steve Young first overall in the 1984 supplemental draft, then traded him to San Francisco in 1986, where Young won two MVPs, three Super Bowls (two as a backup), and led the league in QB rating six times.
Finally, in 1996, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers odds turned around. The team hired former Vikings and Steelers defensive coordinator Tony Dungy to lead the team, and the results were instantaneous. Dungy built a defense that would ultimate be ranked in the top-10 for a decade straight. That defense included players like HOF DE Warren Sapp (12th overall in 1995 draft), HOF LB Derrick Brooks (28th overall in ’95), CB Rhonde Barber (3rd round, 1997), S John Lynch (3rd round 1993 draft), and DE Simeon Rice (signed in 2001).
Even though Dungy would not be around to see Tampa reach the pinnacle, his foundation was crucial for the team’s turnaround. The Bucs made the playoffs in four out of the six year Dungy was coach, advancing to the NFC title game in 1999. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers odds in that game were long, and a bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to make it to their first Super Bowl would not pay, as the team would lose to 14-point favorite St. Louis, 11-6.
Dungy was fired after consecutive wildcard round losses in 2000 and 2001, and Tampa Bay traded four draft picks for the rights to Oakland head coach Jon Gruden. Although the move was maligned by many at the time, the trade payed immediate dividends. Brooks was DPOY in 2002 as the leader of the #1-ranked defense. The Bucs won the division with a 12-4 record, and then won both NFC playoff games by an average of 21 points. In the Super Bowl, the Buccaneers faced… Gruden’s old team, the Raiders. A bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was popular, even though the team was a 3.5-point underdog. Armed with an intimate knowledge of most of Oakland’s inner workings, the Buccaneers’ defense shredded the Raiders’ offense, scoring an incredible four times en route to a 48-21 victory and the Buccaneers’ first ever Super Bowl championship.
Although the Tampa Bay Buccaneers odds for continued success were high, surprisingly enough Gruden probably underachieved during the rest of his tenure, and a bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win more titles would not have paid. He failed to make the playoffs in each of the next two seasons, and while he won two more division titles in 2005 & 2007, in both years the Buccaneers were bounced in the wildcard round of the playoffs, by the Redskins and Giants, respectively. Gruden was fired after he missed the playoffs in 2008, and the Bucs have not been back to the playoffs since.
Tampa has rotated through five head coaches, the latest being former Cardinals and Colts head coach, Bruce Arians. However, Arians’ arrival is not the singular reason for the spike in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' odds. Future-HOF QB Tom Brady has arrived to pilot the Bucs' array of offensive weapons, and a young defense turned into a strong one come playoff time. All the pieces came together for the Bucs, as they won playoff games as a Wild Card at Washington, New Orleans, and Green Bay, and went on to dominate Kansas City 31-9 in Super Bowl LV for the franchise's second Super Bowl title and Brady's record seventh. Tampa Bay also became the first team to both play in and win a Super Bowl in their home stadium, as Super Bowl LV was contested at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs return virtually their entire team in 2021, and with the retirement of Drew Brees in New Orleans, Tampa Bay is an overwhelming favorite to win the NFC South and are also favored to reach Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.