What is going with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay offense? By the eye test, Tampa Bay has looked awful. Against Arizona, Brady under threw Mike Evans twice for interceptions.
However, Tampa Bay has still looked good in my most trusted passing metric. Heading into the Carolina game last week, the pass offense ranked 10th by my adjusted success rate.
Last week, I also looked at rate at which pass attempts go for 20 or more yards. The NFL has averaged an 8.7% explosive play rate.
Heading into this past weekend, Tampa Bay had an explosive play rate of 6.5%, 30th in the NFL. The Colts had a better explosive play rate.
This explosive play rate seems consistent with the eye test on Brady and Tampa Bay. However, randomness plays a large role in explosive plays.
In other words, we should trust success rate more than explosive plays. Regression to the mean in big plays should help Tom Brady.
Then Tampa Bay explodes against Carolina. Brady had 5 plays go for 20 or more yards, including 3 long touchdowns to Mike Evans. Their 50% passing success rate was also solid (42.9% NFL average).
This week, Tampa Bay plays one of the worst teams in the NFL, and my numbers like the Bucs by 8.3 points at Atlanta. However, motivation is a huge issue, as Tampa Bay has already clinched the division and a playoff spot.
Tampa Bay has said that its starters will play. Given their struggles this season, this makes sense, even if your QB seems older than that relative that insists you refrain from sex before marriage. Get some rhythm heading into the playoffs.
Atlanta has played rookie QB Desmond Ridder over the past 3 games since an injury to Marcus Mariota. The pass offense has a 41.3% success rate with Ridder (42.9% NFL average).
However, Ridder has a 53 PFF passing grade. That’s out of 100. For comparison, Tom Brady has a 79 grade despite having one of his worst seasons. That makes those potential absences in Tampa Bay’s secondary seem less critical in this game.
The one thing Atlanta does well is run the ball. They are 4th in my adjusted rushing success rate, and the offensive line has the best PFF run block grade in the NFL.
However, a run game becomes less important if Atlanta trails late in the game. Even if Tampa Bay does decide to sit players mid game, it is hard for me to swing 12 points and think a terrible Atlanta team should be favored by 4 points.
This suggests value in Tampa Bay +4.5, available at FanDuel as of Thursday afternoon.
Football betting with a PhD edge
This article was sent to The Power Rank’s email newsletter at 1pm Eastern on Thursday, January 5, 2023. This newsletter is a free service that strives to be:
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