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Odds favor well-traveled Buccaneers over Cardinals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston passes to wide receiver Mike Evans (not shown) for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

It might come as a surprise that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are favored over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10 by 4.0 points, according to Bovada’s odds.

The Bucs enter Week 10 home game at 2-6, while the Cardinals visit Florida on Sunday with a 3-5-1 mark on the season.

But peeking Tampa Bay’s schedule to this point makes it clear that it has been dealt a difficult hand thus far. The Bucs have played six of their eight games away from Raymond James Stadium.

Cross-country trips to Los Angeles and Seattle, plus the trek to London, have only added hurdles to Tampa Bay’s schedule. All of that came in the last five games with only a Week 7 bye breaking it up. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Bucs traveled 20,400 miles in that span.

“Am I happy about it? Hell, no,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said of the schedule, per the Tampa Bay Times. “I think it’s ridiculous, and I voiced my opinion to the people in New York.”

To combat the heavy travel schedule, Tampa Bay has given players melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Before the London trip, the team handed out blue-light glasses to protect players from light emanating from electronic devices, which affects natural melatonin levels, writes ESPN’s Jenna Laine.

The Bucs have applied the science with a good ol’ sleep schedule as they’ve gone across seven times zones in the past six weeks. Sunday will mark 49 days since Tampa Bay last played at home.

And then there’s the on-field challenges.

The Buccaneers lost to the San Francisco 49ers (8-0) to begin the year, split two meetings with the Carolina Panthers (5-3) — Tampa Bay won in Charlotte and lost in London — and beat the Los Angeles Rams (5-3) on the road.

Tampa Bay’s other losses came on the road at the New Orleans Saints (7-1), at home against the New York Giants (2-7) and at the Tennessee Titans (4-5) and the Seattle Seahawks (7-2). Overall, only the 32-31 loss to New York looks especially bad.

By adjusted Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), the Buccaneers have had the fourth-hardest schedule to this point, according to Football Outsiders.

From here on out, they have it a lot easier with the 20th-hardest schedule.

As for the Cardinals, it’s not as easy in the backhalf of 2019. Football Outsiders projects Arizona has the fourth-most difficult remaining schedule by adjusted DVOA.

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