Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview
Where: Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, OH
When: Friday, August 11, 2017, 1:00 PM ET
TV Broadcast: FOX
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Betting on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2)
As this year’s subject of the TV series, “Hard Knocks,” the Buccaneers should begin the season with a spotlight bigger than in year’s past. Whether it becomes a boost to the team or not, which is very much needed since they haven’t made the playoffs in nine years, remains to be seen.
One sure thing, though, is that things are looking up, especially since last year’s 9-7 card was their best in six years. Along with that hope are the weapons they brought in for quarterback Jamies Winston and the receiving corp’s workhorse, Mike Evans. The 23-year-old QB is coming off a 4,000-plus yard passing season, and is poised to have an even larger production now that deep threat DeSean Jackson and prized rookie tight end OJ Howard are also on deck.
Winston, Evans, and Jackson aren’t expected to play more than a few snaps this Thursday, but we should see Howard in there. The QB spot, meanwhile, should be split by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin, and rookie Sefo Liufau.
The same will be seen on the defensive side. Look for the Bucs’ second-round pick this year, safety Justin Evans, their top pick last season, Vernon Hargreaves, and his co-second-year player, Noah Spence as the key men.
Betting on the Cincinnati Bengals (-2)
If the Bucs are on the rise, the Bengals are just looking to regain their footing. They had an underwhelming 2016, as they finished 6-9-1 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
In trying to bounce back, Cincy drafted two heralded offensive players – lightning-fast wideout John Ross, whose 4.22 time at the 40-yard-dash at the combine marked a new record, and controversial-but-talented running back Joe Mixon, who scored 15 touchdowns and put up 151 total yards per game last season with Oklahoma.
The two rookies are expected to provide a huge lift for QB Andy Dalton, All-Pro receiver AJ Green, and the entire offense, and they should have a good part in the scoring attack this Friday. Dalton isn’t probable to step into the field – just like any other starting QB – so look for AJ McCarron and Jeff Driskel to split the playing time.
Over on defense, the situation has more assurance, as the unit progressed towards the second-half of 2016, with Geno Atkins leading the way. It’s unclear, though, as to which players of the main core will play for Week 1 of the preseason – rookies’ Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson, among others should be available.
The Bucs (+2) take it, 23-16.
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