Friday, June 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

# No love for the Buccaneers: Las Vegas sets over/under at eight wins

With free agency and the draft in the rear view, it's time to look ahead to the Buccaneers season and play everyone's favorite game: How Many Games Will They Win?

The South Point casino in Las Vegas recently released its projections. It set the over/under for Tampa Bay at eight wins.

Eight? For a team that won nine last season and narrowly missed the playoffs? After it signed receiver DeSean Jackson and drafted tight end O.J. Howard, you'd think it'd be projected to win more.

And get this: The casino's sports book set a higher over/under for every other team in the NFC South. The Falcons are projected to win 10, the Panthers nine and the Saints 8.5.

Or maybe the over/under for the Bucs is right where it should be.

How do oddsmakers determine over/unders?

For South Point sports book director Chris Andrews, his process begins at the end of a season, which is when he develops a "power rating" for each team. It's part conjecture, part science. Points scored and points allowed, for example, are among the variables he considers. (More on points scored and points allowed in a moment.)

He assesses which teams got better and which got worse during the offseason, giving more weight to free-agent transactions than draft picks, and adjusts his rating accordingly. Then he pores over the NFL schedule for about two weeks, calculating the win probability for each team in each game. To get a team's season win total, he adds up the probabilities for each of its games.

So, no, he doesn't hate your team. He's not trying to disrespect your team. He's just trying to elicit bets.

"You strive to be objective and mathematical," he said.

If you're using last season's win totals as a reference point for predicting this coming season, you might feel South Point is underestimating the Bucs.

It's not.

Is there a better measure of team quality than wins?

We like to think of football as a game of will, but it's full of luck. A 16-game sample is too small to mitigate the influence of random results. With apologies to Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells — "You are what your record says you are" — a team's record does not always accurately reflect its performance.

This brings us back to points scored and points allowed, which, on the average, are better representations. Plus, they're more correlated to wins the next season than even wins are.

It's a concept rooted in Bill James' baseball research. Decades ago, he developed a formula that estimated the number of games a team "should" win based on the runs it scored and the runs it allowed. Football statisticians have since adopted and adapted that formula to gauge team performance.

Here's the formula for a team's "expected wins" (there's no test afterward, I promise): points scored^2.37/ (points scored^2.37+ points allowed^2.37). Then multiply the outcome by the number of games played in a season (16).

How fair is an eight-win forecast for Tampa Bay?

South Point's projections bear a remarkable resemblance to 2016 expected wins. For 25 of the NFL's 32 teams, there is no more than a win difference.

The Bucs are one of the 25. If a team scores 354 points and allows 369, as Tampa Bay did last season, you'd expect it to win 7.6 games. By this measure, the Bucs overachieved.

What about the Saints? An 8.5 over/under is reasonable when you consider that they underachieved last season — at least based on their point totals. They "should" have won 8.3 games.

It's natural, fresh off the free agency and draft buzz, to rationalize a bump from 9-7 to 10-6, or even 11-5. If we use expected wins, however, instead of actual wins to inform our projections, a scenario in which the Bucs improve and yet finish with the same record seems plausible.

Expecting Tampa Bay to accomplish much more is a risky gamble.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.

#### Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

The NFL will suspend Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston three games without pay to start the regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The suspension could be increased if he fails to meet certain undisclosed requirements expect...
Updated: 4 hours ago

#### Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

TAMPA — The news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start this season likely means the Bucs will have veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick stepping in at quarterback for the first three games of the regular season.Fitzpatrick took over as the starter for th...
Updated: 4 hours ago

#### Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Trade him. Waive him. Cut him.Whatever.Just get rid of him.Jameis Winston should never play another game for the Tampa Bay Bucs.Plain and simple, he's a bad guy and the Bucs should have nothing more to do with him.He already will miss the first three...
Updated: 4 hours ago

#### Three-game suspension looms for Bucs QB Jameis Winston

TAMPA — The Bucs will open the upcoming season without the face of their franchise, as quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended three games by the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy.Winston, 24, was accused of groping a ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

#### Rick Stroud weighs in on report about possible Jameis Winston suspension

Tampa Bay Times beat reporter Rick Stroud isn't buying an ESPN radio report that any suspension levied against Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston by the NFL would stem from Winston's failure to report an alleged incident between him and a female Ub...
Published: 06/21/18

#### Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When will we know about possible Jameis Winston suspension?

Rick Stroud talks about when we will know about a possible Jameis Winston suspension and why DeSean Jackson hasn't been more productive with the Bucs on today's podcast.Plus, who might the Rays trade next? Will the Lightning make any b...
Published: 06/21/18

#### Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston could be suspended for up to three games  next season following the league's investigation into allegations he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016, a Tallahassee radio station reported.Jeff Cameron, a&#...
Published: 06/20/18

#### Zero Bucs players on NFL top 100 list for 2018

Just to preface this, the NFL Network's annual countdown of the league's top 100 players is a made-for-TV deal, good for summer offseason conversation but not carrying any huge amount of real significance.Having said that, it's worth noting that for ...
Published: 06/19/18

#### Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Will Gholston is painfully honest about a 2017 season that wasn't anything close to what he wanted it to be. Ask him about last year, and there are no parentheses in his world to soften what he remembers here."I just played (crappy), completely. That...
Published: 06/18/18

#### Ex-Bucs WR Lawrence Dawsey worked with team during OTAs

The Bucs had four extra coaches during organized team activities last month as part of the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, including former Tampa Bay receiver Lawrence Dawsey.Dawsey, 50, played for the Bucs from 1991-95, finishing his time ...
Published: 06/18/18