The San Francisco 49ers travel to Florida this weekend for a Week 1 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kickoff is set for 4:25 PM EST on September 8th at Raymond James Stadium and the game will be broadcast on FOX.
Oddsmakers opened this game up with the Bucs listed as 1-point home favorites. That line has yet to change after early betting, as Tampa Bay is currently available at -1. The total for this matchup is 50 points. Click here for a full look at the Week 1 NFL odds and for more links to our individual game previews.
Buccaneers vs 49ers Vegas Game Odds & Betting Preview
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers didn’t have a good year in 2018, going just 5-11 overall and finishing last in the NFC South. There was a lot of changes to the coaching staff in the offseason, starting with the firing of head coach Dirk Koetter immediately after Tampa Bay’s Week 17 loss to Atlanta. His replacement, offensive-minded Bruce Arians, has a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball if the Bucs hope to be competitive in 2019. Putting points on the board wasn’t really the issue with the Buccaneers last season, as the offense averaged 24.8 points per game (11th overall). After a rotating door at quarterback between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston for much of the year, Fitzmagic left for Miami over the summer, meaning it should be the Winston show moving forward. Despite the departure of DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, there is still a ton of talent at the receiver position in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. TE OJ Howard should also play a big role for the offense in 2019 as well. As a whole, the Bucs attack averaged 320.3 yards per game through the air in 2018, which was the highest in the entire NFL.
It was a totally different story on the other side of the ball for Tampa Bay last season, as the Bucs were ranked almost dead last in every major defensive category. Not only did the give up 29.0 points per game – second worst in the NFL – they also allowed opponents to rack up an average of 259.4 passing yards per game (27th overall).
San Francisco 49ers
It was also a bad year for the 49ers in 2018, as San Francisco lost starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 3 to a torn ACL and never got back on track. The Niners finished with a 4-12 record overall, which was just barely ahead of Arizona in the NFC West. Garoppolo is finally back and appears to be fully health, which should provide a massive boost for a San Francisco offense that averaged 21.4 points per game (22nd overall). He should get a ton of help from TE George Kittle, who caught 88 passes for 1,377 yards and five touchdowns in what was a breakout season. Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis lead the way for the receiving corps, although speedy rookie Jalen Hurd should provide an immediate spark as well.
The 49ers defense struggled in 2018, surrendering an alarming 27.2 points per game (28th overall). However, San Francisco was surprisingly ranged above league-average against the run and the pass, ranking 12th overall in both categories.
Free NFL Betting Predictions and Pick: Buccaneers -1
Both of these teams had below average years in 2018, so it will be interesting to see how they rebound to start the 2019 season. With this game basically shaping up to be a pick’em, it’s important to try and pinpoint small edges by focusing on individual or positional matchups. Before breaking a few down, it is also important to note that Jimmy G. hasn’t played a meaningful down since Week 3 last season. While the 49ers should still be able to score points against a bad Bucs defense, Garoppolo may be a bit rusty. That may be a huge factor considering how small this spread is, as any single mistake on even just one possession could prove to make all the difference by the end of the fourth quarter.
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Apart from getting to play at home, I also like that Jameis Winston has had plenty of time to prepare with Bruce Arians and the rest of this new look offense. The receiving duo of Godwin and Evens looks absolutely lethal, while OJ Howard also has plenty of big play upside. There are way more question marks on the 49ers offense, as Goodwin is coming off an injury while Dante Pettis was recently called out by his head coach during the preseason for not bringing enough effort and consistency on a daily basis. Even though Kittle will probably break off a few nice plays, and Breida could break a few tackles on the ground, I still think Tampa Bay will find a way to win this game at home. Give me the Buccaneers!