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Freeman, Buccaneers at Odds

A troubled week could lead into a troubled season for Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman.

A troubled week could lead into a troubled season for Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman.

Quarterback Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers appeared to be on choppy waters heading into the season. Now it looks like the two parties could be facing full-on cyclone conditions.

Freeman found himself the subject of a pair of news items this week, neither of which cast him in particularly good light.

Firstly, it was suggested that the coaching team had conspired to prevent Freeman being named a team captain this season, although the Tampa Bay Times reported that head coach Greg Schiano had dismissed claims that he had rigged votes. Secondly, it was reported that Freeman missed last Thursday’s team photo shoot. And all of this after the Buccaneers shot themselves in the foot and dropped their season-opener against the New York Jets.

The claim that Freeman had been held out from a captain’s role had been circulating since announcements were made last week. The quarterback had been elected a captain in each of the last three seasons. A report on ProFootballTalk.com earlier this week suggested a players-only meeting had called into question the legitimacy of the vote counting, but that has subsequently been washed away by both Schiano and Freeman.

Coach Schiano and Freeman are said to be on the same page.

Coach Schiano and Freeman are said to be on the same page.

The report that the quarterback had missed a team photo shoot, and a follow-up meeting, surfaced yesterday. Again, both Freeman and Schiano washed away the report as finished business.

Freeman told the Times:  “The position of quarterback is a position of leadership and obviously missing the team photo is a big deal…it’s something I feel badly about and it’s obviously upsetting but at the same time I’ve got to put it behind me and get ready to play because like it or not the Saints are coming to town.”

While Schiano has pronounced his faith in Freeman, as you would expect a head coach to do in such circumstances, the fractured relationship between the two is alarmingly apparent. Ahead of the season much was written about the expectations the team had for Freeman, whose production has tailed off in the last two years. Meanwhile, Schiano’s future was also in question.

Schiano joined Tampa Bay ahead of last season after 11 years at Rutgers and 14 years in college football. With the transition from college coaching to the NFL a tough task, some have suggested Schiano might already be playing for his coaching life this season.

Meanwhile, Freeman is said to be looking over his shoulder after the Tampa Bay front office selected former North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

In his junior and senior seasons with the Wolfpack, Glennon tallied a combined 7,085 yards passing with 62 touchdowns, 29 interceptions, and three rushing TDs. With Freeman a free agent at the end of the year, speculation suggests that the Bucs may be grooming Glennon to take over if Freeman doesn’t fit with the team this year.

Freeman was selected with the No. 17 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft after starring for Kansas State. In his three years with the Wildcats he passed for 8,078 yards and 44 touchdowns, while rushing for another 20 TDs.

After the Buccaneers started the 2009 season 0-7, Freeman was installed as the starting quarterback, replacing the unsuccessful tandem of Byron Leftwich (0-3) and Josh Johnson (0-4). The Buccaneers finished the season 3-13.

Freeman enjoyed a breakout year in 2010, tallying 3,451 passing yards, 25 TDs and just six interceptions as he led the team to a 10-6 record. Things haven’t looked quite as sharp since.

In 2012, Freeman had career highs in touchdowns (27), passing yards (4,065) and passing attempts (558) but recorded the fewest rushing yards (139) of his career. Meanwhile, his 54.8 percent completion rate was the lowest since his rookie season.

In his first four years with Tampa Bay, Freeman is 1,101 of 1,873 (.588) with 78 TDs and 63 interceptions.

NFC_South_oddsThe whole saga could prove to be too much of a distraction for a team looking to improve on last year’s 7-9 finish. The Bucs are already expected to finish last in the NFC South, and have seen their odds slip in the months leading up to the new season. After last Sunday’s loss to the Jets, a loss that came as a result of an ill-advised defensive penalty late in the game, the Buccaneers are now 66/1 to win Super Bowl XLVIII, down from 40/1 to win on April 29.

The Buccaneers (0-1, 0-0 home) will look to put any distraction behind them this Sunday as the team hosts the New Orleans Saints (1-0, 0-0 road).

The Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons 23-17 in their season-opener last Sunday. Drew Brees threw for 357 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Saints overtook the Falcons as favorites to win the division.

New Orleans leads the all-time head-to-head 25-17, but things have been a little closer in recent years; the teams have evenly split the last 12 meetings.

Tampa Bay enters the game having lost three straight to the Saints, while New Orleans has taken three of the last four at Raymond James Stadium. The Saints own an 11-7 record all-time at the Ray Jay.

New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers odds for 9/15/13 are available now.

Tampa Bay (+151) opens as the underdog on the moneyline with New Orleans (-167) the favorite.

The spread opened at three points in favor of the Saints. New Orleans (1-0-0 ATS) covered the spread in an upset win last week while Tampa Bay (0-1-0 ATS) lost as a favorite. The Saints have covered the spread in seven of the last 10 meetings between the sides making them the safer bet here.

The over/under opened at 47. Both teams saw the total go under in Week 1 while eight of the last nine games between the sides, as well as four of five played in Tampa have also seen the total go under. The smart money therefore resides on the under.

If the Buccaneers are unable to buck the odds, both Freeman and Schiano are likely to find themselves under even more scrutiny, something both could really do without right now.

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