There are a lot of stories that surround a football game. But perhaps the one that is most dominant in the game between the New York Jets and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers surrounds the battle that is going to take place between the Jets’ first-time starter at quarterback and the revamped secondary of the Bucs. The game is slated to kick off at 1 PM ET on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
In the NFL lines that have been posted on the game at Bet365, the Bucs are a road favorite – something that hasn’t happened all that often in recent years:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3.5
New York Jets +3.5
Over 40 Points -110
Under 40 Points -110
It was an interesting first season for Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano last season. He came into the job with a reputation as a stern taskmaster, and he whipped Rutgers into a program of national importance. One of the things Schiano wants to do is control the line of scrimmage, and that is precisely what he took a step toward last season. The Bucs were a little soft under Rasheed Morris, but under Schiano, they were the stingiest team in the NFL against opposing ground games.
That was just the half of it. Tampa Bay (+550 to win the NFC South at Bet365) also ran the ball very well, as first-round draft pick Doug Martin established himself as a premier back. That promises to continue into the 2013 season. but there was still a problem regarding the Bucs’ ability, or inability as it were, to slow down opposition passing attacks. Clearly this was an area of need, and so it was addressed, and then some, by the Bucs brass in the off-season. One move was to sign free agent safety Dashon Goldson, a Pro Bowl performer with the San Francisco 49ers. The team also drafted cornerback Johnthan Banks in the second round. But the big prize was the trade with the Jets to bring Darrelle Revis on board. Revis developed a reputation as one of the best cornerbacks in football, perhaps THE best, but he became more of an iffy proposition when he went down with an ACL injury last year. If he can rebound in some kind of meaningful way, he is going to help make the Bucs’ secondary one of the best in the NFL. And then Tampa Bay, which is even money to win seven games or less at Bet365, could beat those NFL lines.
Then there is the quarterback story. Josh Freeman threw for over 4000 yards last season but still came under fire for his 17 interceptions last year. Schiano made him a little uncomfortable by drafting Mike Glennon, the signal-caller from N.C. State, in the third round, and who knows how much this is going to affect him as he goes into the final year of his current contract.
Geno Smith is going to be a man under a lot of pressure on Sunday. He was drafted in the second round, more or less anointed as the man who was going to eventually be the starter by general manager Jeff Idzik, and then proceeded to disappoint during camp. Mark Sanchez, last year’s starter, whose future with the Jets (+1800 to win the AFC East at Bet365) looked questionable, was going to be the starter by default, until he got hurt in a pre-season game against the Giants. He hasn’t healed yet, so the new default guy is Smith, who now has to navigate through the new-look Tampa Bay secondary. How will Revis do against him?