The Buccaneers and the spread
One of the big talking points around the NFL this season of course has been the undefeated Patriots and the (for the first 10 games anyway) backside-kickings they were giving to teams around the league.

And of course, the Vegas points spreads began to pick up on this and started favouring New England by 14, 17 and now in excess of 20 points in each game. This of course made no difference in the hammerings that the Redskins and Bills got, and actually no difference in the narrow wins over Philadelphia and Baltimore.

But what of the Bucs and the spread? Forget the three point underdogs that Tampa were in New Orleans last week, or whatever the call is for the trip to Houston this Sunday. What are some of the biggest spreads that the Bucs have found themselves involved in?

Go back to the expansion 1976 Buccaneers on their way to emulating the 2007 Dolphins and winning nothing all year. John McKay's team faced a trip to Pittsburgh to play the reigning Super Bowl champions and were underdogs by 26 points. The final score was 42-0 and the Bucs were lucky to get the zero.

Another massive spread came at the end of the 1992 season when the Bucs went into San Francisco (what is it with late season trips to the Bay?) on a 1-9 run since their early-season good start. Sam Wyche's team were getting a 22 point headstart by the Vegas bookies in that one. They covered the spread but failed to cover Jerry Rice in the 4th quarter and lost 21-14.

Of course big spreads are nothing new outside of the NFL. The Florida Gators are routinely favoured by 40+ in their early season warm-ups against the likes of Outer Middle Arkansas State A&M. And in spite of big spreads, upsets often happen as when the Indians covered in their win at the Alamo.

The Bucs won't be favoured by more than maybe a touchdown in any of their remaining games, but this is just for betting purposes. In the real world, the score starts at 0-0 when the opening kick-off takes place.

Paul Stewart, December 2007