Capper Offers Two NFL Picks for Sunday's Rams vs. Bucs

Nikki Adams

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 4:35 PM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 10, 2014 4:35 PM GMT

Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a second shot to record their first win of the season at home in as many weeks when they host the flailing St. Louis Rams, potentially down to a third-string centre. Surely Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win outright and cover is the smart NFL pick. 

Rams in trouble
St. Louis Rams’ season is teetering precariously on the edge of a cliff, threatening to plummet into the depths of despair. As if the news that Sam Bradford was out for the whole season after suffering a torn ACL injury during the preseason games wasn’t bad enough. The Rams could receive another severe blow to their campaign as back-up QB Shaun Hill, who was mislaid with a quad injury halfway through last week’s game, is in serious doubt for the weekend date with the Bucs.

Losing the 34-year-old veteran means the Rams will have to rely on an unheralded centre Austin Davis. It will also mark the third centre in about a fortnight. Davis is a former undrafted free agent whose throwing arm, for all we know, has been relatively idle – he hasn’t thrown a regular season pass until 2014. Thrust into the game, all of a sudden in the second half, he went 16-of-23 for 192 yards and ZERO touchdowns, all while the Vikings mercilessly meted out a beat down 34-6.

In a league that rests heavily on the quality of a quarterback, losing a top centre and being forced to rely on...wait for it... not the second-best choice but THIRD-best (polite speak for poor man’s substitute), is just really, really bad luck. Nowhere more so was the result of having to scrape the bottom of the barrel apparent than on the field against Minnesota Vikings. Despite having one of the best front-seven in football, St, Louis Rams succumbed to a horrendous defeat before their fans. Goes to show, a team is only as good as its centre. In the case of the Rams it’s not so good.

 

Loving on Lovie Smith and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers are after home defeat in their season opener, a 20-14 defeat to the Cam-Newton-less Carolina Panthers. All in all, it was a rough debut for Lovie Smith at the helm of the Buccaneers.  Having to face a back up rather than Cam Newton should have been something to pounce on by the Bucs’ defense. Instead, they hardly put up any resistance, allowing backup Derek Anderson to lead the Panthers to a victory all while going 24-of-34 for 230 yards and two touchdowns. In essence, the Bucs made the largely forgotten, out-of-the-frame quarterback look half-decent. 

Josh McCown, meanwhile, visibly struggled. He was sacked three times while going 22-of35 for 183 yards and two touchdowns. But it wasn’t all bad news for the Buccaneers they did muster up a late comeback that brought them to within touchdown-range. And, in fairness, offense was without its coordinator Jeff Tedford (recovering from some sort of medical emergency/procedure). As well, it wasn’t only the coach’s debut but also Josh McCown’s debut in Bucs’ colours against a formidable defense. Give credit where it’s due: Panthers’ defense is one of the best in the league. It was a tough opener all around and in every aspect.

Sportsbooks Disagree with Rams-Bucaaneers NFL Odds

 

Relevant Trends
St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rams 1-4 SU & ATS last 5 road games
Buccaneers 1-11 SU last 12 home games vs. NFC
Buccaneers 1-5 ATS last 6 home games vs. NFC
Buccaneers 1-5 ATS last 6 games vs. NFC West
UNDER 3-0 in St. Louis last 3 road games

 

NFL Betting Line
St. Louis Rams +220, + 7.0 (-110) O/U 37.0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -260, -7.0 (-110) O/U 37.0 

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NFL Betting Verdict
ESPN 2014 Week 2 NFL Power Rankings have the St. Louis Rams dead last in their power rankings going into the second week of the season, a decided drop from the previous week. The reason as they put it so succinctly, “the injured reserve list looks much more qualified than the Rams' active roster.” That’s a serious consideration for our NFL picks in this game. What’s more, it’s yet uncertain who’ll get the start for this game: Austin Davis or Case Keenum? Either or  doesn’t fill us with a whole lot of optimism, nor do we think will build any confidence amongst NFL bettors.

In our early game-by-game projections for the Rams’ win totals this season, one of the first things we pointed out was the brutal schedule they had been dealt with and that had the odds stacked against them heavily even before the season got off the ground. In fact, we did predict a forgettable season for the Rams by virtue of the schedule alone. Now without Bradford and a 0-1 start to the season after a defeat in a “winnable” game in opening week, the Rams would appear to be headed towards fulfilling our prophecy (getting ahead of ourselves here maybe?).

The schedule is crucial because if they don’t beat the Bucs in week 2 NFL betting, it’s hard to see how they’ll have any hope in the coming weeks, beginning with the Eagles in week 5 (following a bye in week 4), then followed by San Francisco (week 6 and 9), Seattle (week7), Kansas City (week 8), Arizona (week 10) and Denver (week 11). Put another way: it’s a must win game in Tampa. Yet, it’s hard to imagine how they’ll pull it off without a reliable quarterback. Such a schedule puts a lot of pressure on any quarterback, never mind the slim pickings they are left with at centre.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have Jeff Tedford back to coordinate offense and the experience of one game as a newly made over outfit behind them. There’s a lot of work to be done but there’s a silver lining: ESPN NFL Power Rankings going into week 2 have the Bucs in 24th place, which is about appropriate given their output and McCown’s 21.7 QBR rating. But as they do point out, he perked up in the second half and deposited a much better performance. Growing pains are par for the course in a new team.

If the Bucs can put all the pieces together that’s made them the vogue NFL pick for turnaround teams this season, they could heap more misery on the Rams. So we’re going with the Bucs to win straight up at -260.

NFL Picks: Bucs -260 SU; Under 37.0 at 5 Dimes

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