Patriots favored to win more games than Buccaneers in 2020

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March 24th, 2020

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have 42-year-old Tom Brady now leading their offense, while the New England Patriots' quarterback situation is completely up in the air. 

That is a critical question in New England: Who will replace Tom Brady as the Patriots starting quarterback? 

Despite that question, the Patriots are favored, with odds of -140 at BetAmerica, to win more games than the Buccaneers next season.  

Can Patriots continue to own the AFC East?

The Patriots’ dominance in the AFC East can be attributed to a variety of factors. The five Super Bowl appearances since 2011 show, first and foremost, that they were on another level, not just within their own division but across the NFL.

They also haven’t been met with much resistance within their division. They’ve feasted on what has been, for a few years now, a mediocre division. 

The Patriots are 15-3 against their divisional opponents — the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets — since 2017.

The Bills now appear to be on an upswing, and their offseason moves, most notably the acquisition of receiver Stefon Diggs from Minnesota, illustrate this franchise’s desire to take the division over.  

Maybe the Jets will take a step forward this year, but it seems more likely they’re destined for another struggle. Ditto for the Dolphins.  

It’s possible that even without Brady, the Patriots could still pick up three or four wins on their own against the Dolphins and Jets. 

New England's win total for 2020 has been set at nine, and the Over is still favored, with odds of -125. 

The Buccaneers, on the other hand, will continue to face challenges within their division. They face the New Orleans Saints twice, and the Saints should again be in contention for the NFC championship. The Atlanta Falcons were 6-2 in their final eight games last season, and they won’t be as bad as they were at the beginning of the year 2019.

The NFC South won’t provide nearly the same fertile grounds for victory that the AFC East has or will. 

Can Brady deliver at his age?

Kudos to the Buccaneers for being aggressive in free agency, after they've failed to make the playoffs every year since 2007. 

This organization clearly believes it has the tools, particularly on offense, to make a push for the playoffs, and it needed to upgrade at quarterback. Every signing, every trade, and every draft pick is a gamble, and the Buccaneers felt it was time to roll the dice with Brady.

Nothing is a guarantee, and there is added risk in signing players over a certain age threshold. With Brady turning 43 in September, that risk grows even more.

Brady’s numbers were down in 2019. He threw for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns. The Patriots offense lacked the necessary fire power, there was personnel turnover and injuries, and the reality is Brady, at his age, is (probably) not going to put up lofty numbers he used to.

A decline in production for pro athletes is inevitable as they age. That’s the risk the Buccaneers have taken with Brady. It’s also something bettors have to consider.

Do Patriots hold the edge on defense?

The Patriots and Buccaneers were at opposite ends of the spectrum on defense last season. 

New England’s defense gave up only 14.1 points against per game and 275.9 yards per game. Tampa Bay gave up 28.1 points against and 343.9 yards against. 

Offseason changes could bring those numbers closer next season.

Another concern for New England will be replacing several key players on defense, including linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, who signed with other clubs in free agency. 

The Buccaneers, who now have Super Bowl odds of +1600, the same as the Patriots, had the best run defense last year. If they’re able to replicate that, additional improvements in their secondary would help reduce the number of pass touchdowns they allowed (30) and improve the Buccaneers' chances of posting more wins than the Patriots.