Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Cleveland Browns, Saturday August 24, 00:30
One of the eyecatchers from the 2018 NFL season takes part in their third warm-up game on Saturday and the Browns are a short price to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay Troubles
Tampa Bay have some weapons on offense, with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as the lead wide receivers, while OJ Howard and Cameron Brate is a pretty impressive one-two tight end duo. The big question is whether quarterback Jameis Winston can get the best out of them. The evidence of last season was not promising, but Tampa have decided to give him another chance.
Even if Winston finally delivers, there are question marks about the offensive line, and even more so over the defense, which ranked last in the NFL for efficiency last season. In a tough Division that includes the Saints, the Panthers and the Falcons, they look like early favourites to finish last.
Browns Building Momentum
The second half of Cleveland’s 2018 season propelled them into the spotlight, if not, quite, into the play-offs. From a 2-6-1 record in early November, they won five out of their last seven, with Baker Mayfield grabbing many of the headlines. His prodigious talent has been reinforced with the addition of high-profile names including Odell Beckham Jr, Kareem Hunt and Olivier Vernon, and that momentum has continued into their pre-season with wins over Washington and Indianapolis.
Tampa No Home Certainties
Although the Buccaneers will have home-field advantage here, it’s worth noting their poor home record. In fact, since 2009, they have a very poor 29-50 win-loss record at the Raymond James Stadium, which is one of the worst in the league, so a trip to this part of Florida should hold no fear for the Browns, who look to be gearing up for a big season in 2019.
Tampa do at least have a win under their belt: a 16-14 victory over Miami last time, and they also came within two points of the Steelers in their first pre-season fixture, but it’s not hard to see why the Browns are the 8/13 favourites going into this game, while Tampa can be backed at 11/8.