Sunday, September 27, 2020, Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado, 4:25 p.m. ET
Buccaneers at Broncos Betting Preview: Buccaneers (-6/-115), Broncos (+6/-105)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Earning his first ‘W’ for “Tompa Bay,” Tom Brady shrugged off the criticism from coach Bruce Arians after his Week 1 performance and passed for 217 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 31-17 home win over Carolina. He improved his record to 49-13 since 2001 when coming off a loss.
Brady got on the same page with Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans (seven grabs for 104 yards and a TD) after their one-catch debut in a Week 1 loss at New Orleans. Ex-Jaguar Leonard Fournette broke out with 103 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries against the Panthers. The defense delivered four takeaways and sacked Teddy Bridgewater five times.
Brady gets another Pro Bowl weapon back this week with WR Chris Godwin clearing concussion protocol. Remember: Godwin caught 54 passes for 877 yards and seven touchdowns in eight road games last season.
The Bucs are 25th in total offense (324.5 yards per game) but are starting to open things up. Veteran LeSean McCoy got in on the action with five catches on seven targets for 26 yards against Carolina.
Any preseason optimism that might have been floating in the thin air of Denver totally disappeared Sunday as the Broncos lost starting quarterback Drew Lock and No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton to injuries in a deflating 26-21 defeat in Pittsburgh.
Lock is out for 3-8 weeks with a severe rotator-cuff strain, while Pro Bowler Sutton (1,112 yards in 2019) is out for the season with a torn ACL. They joined a MASH unit that already included star pass-rusher Von Miller (ankle surgery) and two-time 1,000-yard rusher Phillip Lindsay, whose turf-toe injury is expected to keep him grounded for another two to four weeks.
Second-year coach Vic Fangio’s club turns to journeyman Jeff Driskel, who completed 13 of 34 passes for 256 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a valiant relief effort against the Steelers. The Broncos reportedly signed former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles this week, to be opened in case of emergency.
Melvin Gordon has 170 yards from scrimmage and two TDs in his first season with Denver.
Buccaneers at Broncos Betting Pick for Week 3
The Broncos (0-2) are on familiar ground after an 0-4 start last season. With Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ unit stacking the box to stop the run, Denver will need rookie wideout Jerry Jeudy and tight end Noah Fant to step up to have a shot.
Outside linebackers Jeremiah Attaochu and Bradley Chubb can boost Denver’s chances by getting in Brady’s face, something the Panthers (zero sacks, one QB hit) were unable to do on Sunday.
Driskel is just 1-7 as an NFL starter and has 219 fewer wins than Brady. Make that 220 come Sunday.
Buccaneers at Broncos Betting Pick:
Buccaneers 24, Broncos 13
Buccaneers at Broncos Best Bet for Week 3
Tampa Bay has not won in Denver since Dec. 26, 1993. Even the 43-year-old Brady wasn’t in the NFL back then. The six-time Super Bowl champ is just 4-7 in the Mile High City, though, including playoff losses in the 2005, 2013 and 2015 seasons.
But Brady is Brady and Driskel is Driskel. Look for the longtime Patriots star to pick up his first road win in a Buccaneers uniform.
Buccaneers at Broncos Best Bet: UNDER 43.5 (-120)