Wanna Bet?

June 25th, 2019


Jay Kornegay has carved out a heck of a living by being right most of the time.

The VP of the Westgate Las Vegas Hotel and Casino SuperBook presides over the gold standard for sports wagering in America. He’s betting that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas — especially the loads of cash wagered every day at his posh parlor.

He does it his way. Mistakes, he’s made a few, but then again, too few to mention.

On the brink of training camp, I asked Kornegay what he expects out of the 2019 Buccaneers.

For each of the past 11 years, frustrated Tampa Bay fans have seen a succession of NFL clubs leap from last to first in their division. Buc supporters have swallowed hard as four or five new teams make the playoffs every season.

The question is an obvious one: why not us?

Longtime sports book executive Jay Kornegay talks Bucs with The Sage.

Although Kornegay isn’t going all in, he senses there is an opportunity for the Bucs to make a splash in the deep end this fall.

“The Bucs were always viewed as a team that had talent but underperformed,” Kornegay told me. “We expect Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles to change that immediately.”

For Buc fans, change is good. For Buc fans, change is spectacular.

But wait … it’s complicated.

“The downside is the Bucs play in a tough division — and that’s not changing this year,” Kornegay said. “Arians has a knack of lifting play for quarterbacks, but Jameis Winston will be a bigger challenge. For success, Winston will need to cut down his picks.”

Do tell, sir.

Long Odds

Kornegay wanted to make sure I knew what the SuperBook tote boards were saying about the Bucs: in terms of winning the NFC South, the Saints are 1-2 favorites, followed by Atlanta at 13/4, Carolina at 6/1 and Tampa Bay at 12/1.

The Bucs are a 50-1 longshot to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl and you can get 100-1 odds on the chances of the Bucs hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy in a parade down Dale Mabry Highway.

Now the good news.

Every year, and I mean every year without exception, a handful of NFL teams rise from obscurity. These Vegas odds are not an exact science … that’s why you have to play the games.

Two years ago, the over-under win total for the Bills was listed as 6.5. Buffalo ended up winning 9 games, ending a playoff drought that stretched back to 1999.

The Vegas board had the 2017 Rams for 6 wins, but Los Angeles rolled to an 11-5 mark under rookie head coach Sean McVay.

By the way, the Bucs are currently pegged at 6.5 wins.

A year ago, Vegas had the Bears at that same 6.5 mark. Chicago went on to win 12 games under first-year coach Matt Nagy.

The Colts were also listed at 6.5 before a dynamic draft and the return of Andrew Luck forged a 10-win season.

It works the other way, too.

Remember how the 49ers finished the 2017 season with a flourish, winning their final five games after a 1-10 start?  Projected to be a 9-win team last year, the 49ers plunged to 4-12 as Jimmy Garoppolo missed the final 13 games with a torn ACL.

The bottom line is the Vegas odds aren’t infallible. Kornegay and his group don’t always get things right.

Take 2013, for example.

With Arizona coming off a 5-11 season, the over-under win total for the Cardinals was listed at 5.5. A feisty coach named Bruce Arians answered the skeptics with a 10-6 finish, narrowly missing the playoffs.

Can Arians do it again? The odds say he’s got a shot.

12 Responses to “Wanna Bet?”

  1. Defense Rules Says:

    Took awhile to find the bottom line … “That’s why you have to play the games.”

    A lot has to go right to have a winning team in today’s NFL. The Rams were the perfect example. They went 4-12 just 2 yrs ago under Jeff Fischer (4-9) then John Fassel (0-3), and oh ya, DC Gregg Williams & OC Rob Boras. That team scored 224 pts (#32 in the league) & allowed 394 pts (#23 ranking).

    Rams made some significant changes in 2017, starting with a new HC (Sean McVey) & DC Wade Phillips (who switched them from a 4-3 to a 3-4 BTW). Yes they changed QBs … to a rookie (Jared Goff) & changed some personnel. Their offense exploded & more than DOUBLED their offensive performance, scoring 478 pts for a #1 ranking. Their defense improved also, but not as dramatically, allowing 329 pts for a #12 ranking. Made the playoffs as a wildcard with an 11-5 record, but were eliminated in the 1st round.

    Rams tweaked the roster again in 2018, but kept the same coaching staff. Their offense put up even more points (527 pts for a #2 ranking) but their defense slipped some in 2018, allowing 378 pts for a #20 ranking. Still, it was good enough to win the division with a 13-3 record & make it all the way to the Super Bowl.

    Quite a dramatic turnaround from 2016’s 4-12 record. The keys were a new (and better) coaching staff and adding a number of new players in key roles (to include QB in their case, rebuilding their WR corps & changing their OLine, plus modifying their defense quite a bit). The 2018 starting lineup bears little resemblance to their 2016 starting lineup. In the Rams’ case, their defense improved to roughly middle of the pack, but their offense exploded to a #1 & #2 ranking in POINTS SCORED in 2017 & 2018. IF the Bucs can follow that formula for a rapid turnaround, we could do very well this year.

  2. Bucsfanman Says:

    This is our shot. It’s going to be Arians or it’s nobody. I expect dramatic improvements in play. Whether it leads to wins will be determined by production at certain positions.
    We have better coaching now. That’s the difference!

  3. TDTB Says:

    Not sure Vegas odds (good or bad) are a good indicator of future performance. Betting lines are set to encourage betting on both sides (To ensure the house makes money) not to predict actual results. In other words, they’re set at what the oddsmakers believe the public thinks, and then adjusted accordingly as bets are placed.

  4. BucEmUp Says:

    100 to 1 odds ill play that with BA running things

  5. Rob Tanner Says:

    But you all forget, none of those teams that had a turn-around gave away a defensive players’ number. So there is no way we can match any of those teams or go over 5 wins. Where is that dead horse at? 🤣

  6. Little Bo Peep Says:

    No Pass Rush, Bad OL, Worst Running Game In The NFL, DB’s Getting Tourched, Bad Kicking Game, Mistake Prone QB, Plus the Toughest Division In The NFL=4-12 FOR THE YUCKS IN 2019 ❗️

  7. 813bucboi Says:

    i bet we double our win total from last year…..

    GO BUCS!!!!

  8. D-Rome Says:


  9. Jean Lafitte Says:

    I wanna see how healthy we make it through TC before I get excited about turning things around. Teams in our division could lose significant players to injury as well bringing down the strength of those teams. Injuries can play the most important part if a team is to be successful at the end.

  10. Buc1987 Says:

    813bucboi Says:

    “i bet we double our win total from last year…..

    GO BUCS!!!!”

    I hope you’re right!

  11. Buc1987 Says:


  12. SenileSenior Says:

    Thank you, Sage!

    I am too lazy to dig this kind of info up on my own. Thanks again.
    Go Bucs!