NFL

Don’t Tell Yourself $25-Million Man Tom Brady and the Buccaneers Are Instant Playoff Locks

The sight of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski suiting up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this fall will undoubtedly be a strange one. Tampa Bay hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007 and moved to acquire the two Patriots legends this offseason.

Although Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski bring notable reputations to the Buccaneers, one shouldn’t automatically put them in the Super Bowl conversation.

In fact, the odds are stacked against Tampa Bay even making the postseason.

NFL fans assume Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski will be elite

This is the biggest mistake made about the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ chances. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are each future Hall of Famers — it would be shocking if either doesn’t make it in on their first try, especially Brady — and are among the greatest at their positions in league history.

With that said, there is no guarantee either will be their old selves next season. Tom Brady looked older last year, albeit in an offense lacking dangerous weapons.

Brady’s old friends, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning, will tell him just how sudden regression can be for a quarterback.

Rob Gronkowski was just as much of an injury threat as he was a red zone threat with the Patriots. Gronkowski played a full 16 games just twice in nine seasons with the Patriots.

The Buccaneers will be in trouble if Gronkowski is asked to play a major role after sitting out last year. At least Jason Witten, who retired in 2018 but returned to Dallas last year, was healthy throughout his career.

The Buccaneers play in possibly the NFL’s toughest division

Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason. Don't delcare the Buccaneers immediate NFC South favorites, though.
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason. Don’t delcare the Buccaneers immediate NFC South favorites, though. | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

There are three types of divisions in the NFL, and it has nothing to do with geography. Divisions like the AFC East (at least before Tom Brady left the Patriots) and the AFC West belong to one team barring a severe injury.

Kansas City will only lose out on the AFC West Division crown if Patrick Mahomes suffers a devastating injury. The same goes for Baltimore and Lamar Jackson in the AFC North Division.

The second divisional type has at least two favorites. San Francisco and Seattle are the early frontrunners to win the NFC West, for example. Dallas and Philadelphia should slug it out in the NFC East.

Divisions such as the NFC West, or, the AFC West in years past, often come down to one game.

Then, there are divisions like the 2020 NFC South. The only guarantee is that at least one team will make the playoffs. Any of the NFC South Division’s four teams are not only capable of winning the division, but making a Super Bowl run.

Tampa Bay has the weapons and an excellent head coach in Bruce Arians. But are the Buccaneers ready to catch three-time defending champions New Orleans in the standings? What about Carolina, which added Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback and made several notable defensive moves.

Don’t rule out Atlanta, either. The Falcons still have Matt Ryan and Julio Jones as one of the NFL’s best quarterback-receiver duos. Atlanta improved down the stretch and is in for a make-or-break year under veteran head coach Dan Quinn.

Las Vegas is optimistic on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers’ 2020 hopes

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are forecast to win nine games, according to Caesar’s Palace. Elsewhere in the NFC South Divison, New Orleans is favored to win 10.5 games.

Five NFC teams are projected to win at least 9.5 games, according to Caesar’s Palace. That leaves Tampa Bay and Minnesota, the two NFC teams favored to win nine games, left to compete for the NFC’s final playoff spot.

Chicago, Green Bay, and the Los Angeles Rams are all projected to win 8.5 games.

Las Vegas is erring on the side of optimism for Tom Brady’s first year in Tampa Bay. But the questions about how effective Brady and Gronkowski will be, coupled with the difficult division they play in, means one should be more cautious about Tampa Bay’s 2020 odds.