The San Francisco 49ers kick off their much-anticipated 2019 season in sunny Florida on Sunday, bringing more offensive weapons, a significantly upgraded pass rush and a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo to face a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that is now led by Bruce Arians. Here we discuss the odds and analysis from a betting perspective.

When: Sunday September 8th, 2019 at 1:25 PST (FOX)
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, Florida
Line: 49ers PK, o/u at 50

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay devolved into one of the worst defenses in the league by the end of 2018 and lost Gerald McCoy and Kwon Alexander. The offensive line and running games are question marks, and likely weaknesses, and Jameis Winston still has yet to prove he can make news for things other than blunders.

But Bruce Arians is a major upgrade at coach, as is new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who won the AP assistant coach of the year award for his 2014 effort as defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals while Bruce Arians was head coach.

San Francisco 49ers: The Niners have assembled what could be one of the most formidable front sevens in the league, including Nick Bosa and Dee Ford joining fellow first-round picks Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas. Jason Verrett, who has not played a regular season NFL game since rupturing his Achilles tendon on July 27th, 2018, was signed to cornerback for a secondary that had only two interceptions in 2018.

Jimmy Garoppolo is healthy but who knows for sure how his mind and surgically-repaired knee will respond to full throttle NFL speed or how well a Niners offensive line that conceded 48 sacks in 2018 will be able to protect him. Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida have the potential to be quite a one-two punch in the running game and could find more room as defenses try and focus on George Kittle, Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis, Deebo Samuel and Trent Taylor.

Prediction: ESPN's NFL Football Power Index is based off of expected offensive, defensive and special teams efficiency (FPI) and has the 49ers at 0.4 and Bucs at -3.0, and we would agree that San Francisco has a better running game and defense but some might argue that Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard are right up there with San Francisco's top receivers.

Say what you want about Jameis Winston, but he's won more road games in the NFL than Jimmy Garoppolo and had a higher total QBR (68.6) than Garoppolo (29.9) in 2018, and Tampa Bay's offensive line gave up eight fewer sacks than the Niners did in 2018 and had a 6.6% sack rate compared to San Francisco's 8.0% last year.

Robert Saleh is improving as a defensive coordinator and the Niners have more talent on defense, but Tampa added Ndamukong Suh, drafted linebacker Devin White with the fifth overall pick in 2019, and has Todd Bowles, who will get the most out of the defense.

If San Francisco has better players, that advantage could be slightly muted by this game being on the east coast in 88 degree weather, and we see this being a very close match up and the line reflects it.

Ultimately, we see the difference in this game coming down to coaching. Bruce Arians has more of a proven record in the NFL and Kyle Shanahan went the entire 2018 season without winning a road game, having won the only three road games of his head coaching career at the end of 2017 against teams that had absolutely nothing to play for.

Tampa Bay has beaten the 49ers in two straight games, including 27-9 last season in Week 12 at Tampa Bay, and Bruce Arians has beaten the Niners in six straight, seven of eight contests, and he is likely to find ways to exploit San Francisco's secondary, all of which lead us to give the edge to the Bucs. Pick: Tampa Bay PK

Poll

  • What is your best bet for 49ers at Buccaneers on 9/8/19?
  • 49ers PK
  • Buccaneers PK
  • Over 50
  • Under 50