The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming from a win and the Arizona Cardinals from a loss, and while people who bet on NFL might believe that the Cards will bounce back from their odds-defying defeat to the New England Patriots and make a sacrificial lamb out of the Bucs, that should not necessarily be the case. And speaking of NFL betting odds:
Buccaneers +6½ (-105) 50½ (-110)
Cardinals -6½ (-115) 50½ (-110)
The Buccaneers beat the Atlanta Falcons 31-24 in week 1. Second year QB Jameis Winston threw an early interception but finished 23 of 33 for 281 passing yards with four TD passes to wide receiver Mike Evans, running back Charles Sims III, and tight ends Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Brandon Myers. Winston led the Buccaneers on a nine-play, 75-drive capped with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Myers.
Later on, he converted on third-and-10 with an 11-yard pass to Jackson, followed by a short toss to Sims, who made it do what it do. The Bucs scored on their first two possessions of the second half. Winston went to Seferian-Jenkins on a 30-yard TD, and then he outdid himself with a picture perfect 45-yard TD pass to Evans over two defenders.
The Cardinals, as all who bet on NFL are fully and even painfully aware of, succumbed to an undermanned New England Patriots. A 45-yard run by David Johnson set up a 2-yard, over-the-shoulder TD catch by Larry Fitzgerald that gave Arizona its only lead of the night with 9:46 left on the clock.
A holding penalty hindered the Cards’ last drive but a pass to wide receiver Jaron Brown put them within field-goal range. The snap was low and Catanzaro booted the ball to the left of the uprights. Apparently Rhythm Is Not a Dancer, because The Snap! was low and Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field goal with 41 seconds left.
Following the unexpected loss, head coach Bruce Arians asked fans who bet on NFL to “give us another week.” And what if they refused? Would they have moved the next game to Monday or Thursday? “We are a good team,” RB Johnson said. And doggone it, people like us.
Some of the things that Arians said can and will be fixed in time to visit the Cards include missing tackles and not getting off the field on third downs defensively; avoiding celebration penalties like the one starring safety D.J. Swearinger and LB Chandler Jones; and getting backup Chris Johnson more snaps.
On the other hand, one must not underestimate the momentum the Bucs have gained from not only winning their first season opener since 2012, but also assuming the very early leadership of the NFC South division. Meanwhile, the Cards are third in the NFC West behind the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. The Cardinals have been highly touted as team to beat, but the loss to the Pats may have revealed all that ballyhoo to be mere hype. As for the Bucs, the South may not rise again, but the Buccaneers might rise in the South.