Jets might put up an early fight, but Bucs should prevail

Bucs favored by 3 1/2 points

Tampa - It's become pretty apparent that there is no one, and I mean no one that gives the Jets a chance to beat the Bucs in the season opener.

From the owner to the head coach, the NY media has been scrutinizing their moves and hires.

Now, they have little faith in the pro debut of rookie Quarterback Gino Smith guiding this depleted offense to any success against a Tampa Bay defense that showed limited flashes in the preseason.

Ah, the preseason.  It's a curse.  It can take you into a false sense of security and completely misguide your image of what the team might look like.

If we were to put stock into the rehearsals, neither team would receive high marks.

The difference is the Bucs look far better on paper as a team poised to make a swing upwards.

I sit here today writing this preview with worries about this Bucs team.

As bad as the Jets may seem, I'm not totally convinced the Bucs are going to shake the preseason horrors and handle the Jets with relative ease and beat the 3 ½ point spread.

For one, the offense line will likely be without Carl Nicks, who was a no-show at practice on Wednesday.

Even if Nicks miraculously lines up Sunday, he's not in shape, certainly not in football shape.

His pro-bowl counterpart on the line, Davin Joseph isn't 100% yet either.  I'm not even sure where he is physically.  He's a consummate pro, but when your body tells you it ain't ready, it ain't ready no matter how much you force it.

Without those two fit is a concern, although the Bucs were fine without them in the second half of last season.

By all fantasy football accounts, RB Doug Martin should be a stud this season.  If Adrian Peterson wasn't in the league, Dougie would a #1 or #2 pick.  He'll need to play like it as Head Coach Greg Schiano suggested this week.

We haven't heard much from WR Vincent Jackson yet.  He's been quietly going through his preps, which is something I like.

Jackson is a big piece of this offensive puzzle, as is WR Mike Williams.

Mike talked today about getting off to a fast start. 

That has been the motto of this team for over a year. Rarely has it been met.

That leads me to the Bucs defense, which has added a key safety in Dashon Goldson and Cornerback Darrelle Revis.

Two studs, one healthy, one playing in his first game since ACL surgery last season with the Jets.

That would be Revis.  He spoke today about how anxious he is to get back on the field.

Either he is a bonified actor, or you could sense he's interested to know how far his knee takes him Sunday.

Believe me, the Jets are going to test Revis, not shy away from him. 

That's Rex Ryan.  He's going to take advantage of any rust Darrelle might have as he works himself back.

That leads me to the defensive line. 

It's the same story with the same hopes as every year.  This group can put pressure on the QB when they have to, and stop the run when needed.

I'm more inclined to say this D-line should do fine against the Jets running game.  I think they have to work in their blitz package to get pressure on Smith.

It wouldn't hurt to put a spy on him as well.  Smith can deek and dunk, rather elusive, which is always problematic.

But he is a rookie with no preseason success to hang his hat on.  Nerves will come into play.  The Bucs just can't make him comfortable.

What I am looking for from the Bucs this week is a big day out of the special team kick return unit.

Eric Page can break a big one, but I don't think he has the sustained speed to take it to the house.

No matter, field position is always an ingredient for success.  Here is to hoping EP pops one.

Finally, our QB, Josh Freeman. 

He really didn't do diddly in the preseason which can't be dismissed.  He's been run up against the curb by critics, he is without a contract for next season, and tagged inconsistent.

What Freeman does have is an arm, which will throttle the Jets secondary if the offensive line can give him time.

Finally, the good news is the Bucs open with the Jets. 

It not easy playing in NY, but then again for Jets fans, it won't be easy watching their team in 2013.

Let's get the party started!

TK's PICK:  Bucs – 3 ½

TK vs. Spread 0-0

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