Before placing your NFL picks on this match against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, do keep in mind that the Cleveland Browns face a lot of injury concerns as they move forward with their preseason.
What We Know About The Coaches
Mike Pettine of the Browns is 1-5 in the preseason, 0-2 in this preseason, after his team lost to Buffalo, 11-10, last week. The Browns’ offense is still a work in progress, and it’s up to Pettine to begin to find answers before opening day.
Lovie Smith of the Bucs is 23-23, and 1-1 in this preseason, after his team beat Cincinnati, 25-11, this past Monday. The Buccaneers played with a lot of energy, which is exactly what a coach wants to see from his team in a preseason game. Give the edge to the Bucs here.
Compare NFL Odds for Browns vs. Buccaneers Here
The Browns know that Josh McCown is the likely opening day starter, but he needs to get better after he threw two interceptions last week against the Bills. The concern about McCown in this game (when starters normally get more preseason reps than in other weeks) is that he underwent X-rays on his right ring finger. They were negative, but one has to wonder if McCown will play much in this game. This will leave Johnny Manziel as the quarterback who is almost certain to play a majority of this game. He came up with a dazzling 37-yard pass outside the pocket last week, but he needs to produce more than one touchdown (as he did against Buffalo) if he really wants to make a push at the number one spot.
The Buccaneers liked what they saw out of Jameis Winston, the top overall draft pick, but he did tweak his right ankle against Cincinnati. This will leave Mike Glennon, who has ample experience as a starter from previous seasons, in the game for most of the action against Cleveland. Glennon was 10 of 15 passing for 121 yards and one touchdown.
This is about even, since Cleveland has quarterbacks who are fighting for a job. Glennon is a backup who is solidified in his position and knows that Winston, when healthy again, will get the call.
Team Depth & Rotations
The Browns were playing without 20 players against the Bills. Some of them, such as Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, will almost surely not play in this game, so that they’re ready when games count in September. Defensive back Jordan Poyer also got injured against the Bills and will not play in this game.
The Bucs will be without wide receiver Mike Evans, who suffered a hamstring injury against Cincinnati. Tampa Bay’s offensive line has undergone a change, with Donovan Smith at left tackle and Ali Marpet at right guard. Gosder Cherilus is filling in for Demar Dotson.
The depth of Cleveland’s injury issues outweighs Tampa Bay’s. Advantage, Bucs.
NFL Preseason Betting: Week 3 Picks
The Browns are dealing with a lot of injuries, but on the other hand, while it’s true that preseason games don’t involve teams playing all their people (especially not their starters), the fact that the Browns played last Thursday while the Buccaneers played last Monday is a hard thing to overlook. One team is simply going to be a lot more prepared to play than the other. The Buccaneers have edges in terms of two of the categories above, but only by small margins. Rest and recuperation give the Browns the nod and inspires our NFL picks.
NFL Pick: Browns +3 at Bodog