Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5 7-7 ATS) at Detroit Lions (5-9 6-8 ATS)
In a Saturday afternoon NFC matchup the Lions host the Buccaneers in a game that means a lot to Tampa and not much for Detroit. The Bucs are a big 9.5-point road favorite with a total of 54.
Not surprisingly the public has backed the Bucs in this one, as they opened as an 8-point favorite and as of Wednesday are a 9.5-point favorite.
The main reasons the Lions are big home underdogs are their defense and the uncertainty of Matthew Stafford. Detroit ranks dead-last in the NFL giving up an average of 31.1 ppg and they have given up an average of 37 ppg in their last four games. Stafford was injured in the last game and listed as questionable but with the Lions eliminated from the playoffs I don’t think he will see the field.
The Lions have lost two in a row and four of their last five games.
After losing two games in a row the Bucs have regrouped and won their last two games. It is pretty easy for them, as they can secure a Wild Card if they win or tie or the Bears lose or tie.
Tom Brady had played well this season in his first one in Tampa Bay and may have to shoulder more of the load in this game. Bucs lead RB Ronald Jones (900 yards 6 TD) is doubtful, as he is still on the COVID-19 list.
The Tampa offense ranks seventh in the league in ppg and will be facing a struggling Detroit defense that has been torched most of the season.
The road team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven games between these teams.
We can all remember the Patriots and Brady’s improbably comeback over the Falcons in the Super Bowl a few years back. That repeated itself in the Bucs’ last game where they were down 17-0 at the half and outscored the Falcons 31-10 in the second half to secure a 31-27 win.
Brady passed for 390 yards with two TD and no INT in the win over Atlanta. After four picks in two losses, Brady has not thrown an INT in the last two games.
Mike Evans and Antonio Brown combined for 203 receiving yards in the last game. In that game, Leonard Fournette led Tampa rushing for 49 yards and two TD but only averaged 3.6 yards per carry. He will man the backfield with Jones likely out.
This season has shown that to slow down Brady you have to pressure him. However, the Lions have had a weak pass rush this season with only 19 sacks in 14 games.
Defense Struggles, Again
In the Lions’ last game, they lost to the Tennessee Titans 46-25 where their D struggled again. They gave up three passing TD and also gave up nearly 200 rushing yards.
If Stafford cannot go in this game Chase Daniel will get the call. In coming in for Stafford in the loss to the Titans Daniels was 5 for 6 for 55 yards with no TD and an INT.
D’Andre Swift and Adrian Peterson combined for 90 rushing yards in the loss to Tennessee. You would think that with Stafford likely out the Lions would lean on the run. However, in Tampa’s last game they stuffed the run while giving up 356 passing yards.
The Bucs did not cover in their last game and they are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games after failing to cover the spread in their previous game.
I think this game could get ugly quickly, as I do not think Stafford will play the Lions’ D will get lit up again. Brady will be solid and while the Bucs will give up points they will easily win and cover in Motor City securing a playoff berth in the process.
PICK: Buccaneers -9.5