Times columnist Gary Shelton asks a Vegas oddsmaker to rate the Bucs' chances on several fronts.
It says here the Bucs are going to win today.
It says here that Mike Alstott will score on a two-point conversion, sort of, and that immediately afterward, the top of Joe Gibbs' head will blow up and hurtle through space in the general direction of Simeon Rice's home planet.
If you disagree, you can lay your money down.
It says here that Jason Campbell will get sacked, Cadillac Williams will get on track and, finally, a Bucs' kickoff returner will bring one back.
By now, I would imagine you are reaching for your wallet, aren't you?
Whether betting is a harmless sweetener to watching games, whether those who run the league wish to acknowledge it or not, the NFL is a betting proposition. If you have half a mind - sometimes, that's what it takes - you can wager on the coin flip, the number of high-fives on the opening drive or the over-under of missed notes by the anthem singer.
Sometimes, I am convinced I am the last man standing who actually watches football games for funzies. Yet, every week, I am inundated by e-mails from gambling sites who want to tell me the odds against the Bucs. (Hey, I've watched their offense for 16 seasons. I know the odds.)
Sometimes, your mind starts to play, however. I don't really want to know the point spread (Tampa Bay by 3.) I want to know the odds the first drive will be three-and-out (the odds are roughly the same as gravity taking place.)
In the spirit of whimsy, I contacted the good folks at Bodog.com to talk about proposition bets with the Bucs. You want to size up the odds against the Bucs in today's game against Washington?
Will Mike Alstott score on another two-point conversion?
If you remember, the Bucs won last year's regular-season meeting when Alstott scored on a two-pointer. If you want to bet that he will do it again, the odds are 5-1 in your favor (Bet $100, win $500). No, you can't bet that he won't. I don't know about you, but I'm not betting. I'm not sure Jon Gruden didn't think Alstott retired in the off-season. As little as Alstott touches the ball, he might as well play, say, Jeb Terry at fullback.
Is today the day the Bucs return a kickoff for a touchdown?
Sucker bet alert. The odds are 14-1 that the Bucs will return one for a touchdown today (again, you cannot bet they will not). Remember, the Bucs are zero-for-history as far as returning kickoffs for touchdowns.
Fourteen to one? Hah. It ought to be 14-million to 1. There are better odds that a meteor falls on Raymond James Stadium and that Michael Pittman fair catches it.
Today's over-under: 33-1/2.
It's a ridiculously low number. I say bet the over. All it takes is 12 field goals by Matt Bryant, and you're there.
Will the Bucs finish with the No. 1 draft pick?
According to the oddsmakers, they'll finish third, behind Arizona and Oakland, ahead of Tennessee and Detroit.
Who will the Bucs select first?
Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame, +235; Joe Thomas, T, Wisconsin, +265; Alan Branch, DT, Michigan, +325; Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson, +350; Leon Hall, CB, Michigan +375.
If the Bucs pick someone else, the money is returned.
Odds that Gruden brings in an offensive coordinator in the off-season?
No odds, although Jeff Bowden is available. Considering his buyout, however, I'm not sure the Bucs could get him in under the salary cap.
Seriously, how does one annoy the FSU boosters enough to get a buyout? I'm trying. And by the way, my price is $3.25-million.
Will Luke McCown start a game for the Bucs before the season is over?
The odds are 4-1. Odd. As often as McCown's injury has been mentioned as part of the reason for the Bucs' problems, you would think it would be even money.
Will Tim Rattay start two consecutive games for the Bucs before the season is over?
If you say no, it will cost you $400 to win $100. Bet yes, and you can turn $100 into $250.
Will Joe Gibbs be back with the Redskins in '07?
If you want to bet he will, it pays 3-2. If you want to bet he won't, it pays 2-1.
One assumes the NFL would frown on Danny Snyder making a bet.
Will Redskins' quarterback Jason Campbell, who has never thrown a pass, throw for 200 yards?
It's almost 2-1 (+190) against it. In the days of the old Bucs defense (or the defense before it was old), it would have been 10-1.
One assumes the NFL would frown upon Jermaine Phillips making a wager.
Over-under on the Bucs' victory total next season?
No odds will be posted until the oddsmakers see what the Bucs do in the off-season. But here, it says six.
Odds that Gruden brings up old injuries in his post-game press confer ence?
No odds, but if you think about it, Alvin Harper still isn't back from that finger problem.
Over-under: How many times will Cadillac Williams carry the ball?
Because the Bucs seem to forget about Williams for quarters at a time, he hasn't had that many carries in a month. A hunch, though. He'll get 17 carries. With his line, he'll also get 36 yards.
Who will be the Bucs' starting quarterback in 2007?
Bruce Gradkowski, above
(bet $100 to win $135)
Another current NFL player
First-round draft pick
Because he's getting the current audition, Gradkowski has to be the favorite. But here's another hunch. The Bucs might end up starting all of them at some point next year.
And you, too.
Will Jon Gruden, left, return as coach of the Bucs in 2007? 2-1 or 3-2
If you want to bet that he will be back, the odds are 2-1. If you want to bet that he will not, the odds are 3-2.
Will Bruce Allen return as general manager?
2-1 or 1-3
The odds say he's back. If you want to bet he isn't, it pays 2-1. If you want to bet yes, however, it's 1-3 (bet $300 to win $100). One assumes the NFL would frown on the Glazers making a bet.
What are the chances two Hogettes are caught in the stall at Banana Joe's like the two Carolina Panther cheerleaders?
The folks at Bodog found this very amusing. And a little disturbing. They declined to give us odds.
Hey, we all know passionate fans, and if your team had a line called the Hogs, you might wear snouts to the game, too. But I've always wondered about the first guy to say "I know. Let's wear dresses.'' Also, about the second guy who said, "Great idea!''
Gary Shelton can be reached at (727) 893-8805 or email@example.com.