Fresh off their latest international incident, the Buffalo Bills will try to beat the NFL odds Sunday afternoon against the resurgent Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to December 1 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
Check out our NFL Picks: Week 14 Betting Odds Report
There are a lot of things to like about Toronto. Aside from the occasional flood, the streets are clean, and aside from the occasional crack-smoking mayor, the people are polite. But the Buffalo Bills shouldn’t be playing home games there – not until the franchise actually pulls up stakes and moves north, at least. In the meantime, the Bills are 1-5 SU and ATS in the T-Dot after losing 34-31 to the Atlanta Falcons (+5) in overtime this past Sunday.
This week, Buffalo (4-8 SU, 6-6 ATS) will do what a lot of Canadians do in December: head for Florida. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9 SU, 5-7 ATS) welcome the Bills this Sunday after dropping a 27-6 decision to the Carolina Panthers (–7.5 at home), snapping a four-game ATS winning streak for the Bucs. Will they get that second wind back in their sails? The Week 14 NFL odds have Tampa laying 2.5 points.
Believe it or not, the Bills are still technically in the hunt for a playoff berth in the AFC. But it’s much more likely that they’ll suffer their 10th consecutive losing season and miss the playoffs for the 15th year in a row (speaking of Toronto, Doug Flutie). Motivation is going to be key if Buffalo’s going to beat the NFL betting lines moving forward. The Bills are 10-20 SU and 12-17-1 ATS in their last 30 December games, so first-year head coach Doug Marrone has a tall task ahead of him.
It’s a sad situation for a Bills team that had some promise going into the 2013 campaign. They were competitive earlier on at 3-4 SU and 5-2 ATS, but it’s all gone downhill from there. Injuries have played a major role, although Buffalo has EJ Manuel (82.7 passer rating) back under center, and he’ll be surrounded by a healthy complement of receivers on Sunday. The Bills already have the No. 7-ranked defense in the league in terms of efficiency; maybe that No. 23-ranked offense can hold up its end of the bargain now that all hands are on deck.
Beating that No. 10-ranked Buccaneer defense won’t be easy, though. As awfully as the season began for the Bucs, the problems were mostly on their offense, which has improved to No. 20 overall since QB Josh Freeman (59.3 passer rating) was given his walking papers and replaced by Mike Glennon (90.3). Heading into Week 13, Glennon was a respectable No. 18 at his position in passing DVOA, one spot ahead of Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck.
Now the Bucs have to get their running game working. Doug Martin (shoulder) and Mike James (ankle) have both been lost for the season, leaving Bobby Rainey and Brian Leonard to carry the load. Rainey (4.2 yards per carry) delivered early results, but has been held to 98 yards on 35 carries in his last two games combined. Leonard (3.2 yards per carry) touched the ball once during that time.
Mind you, Carolina’s No. 3-ranked defense will shut down just about anybody. But last week’s loss to the Panthers was arguably Tampa’s worst game of the season, and it looks like head coach Greg Schiano is back under the job-security microscope. This is a testy situation for Schiano; on one hand, the inmates were running the asylum before he took over last year and started cracking the whip. On the other hand, an unnamed former Buccaneer from 2012 described playing for Schiano as “like being in Cuba.”
So you’ve got Cuba on one hand, and Buffalo/Toronto on the other. I’ll take Cuba in December.NFL Pick: Take the Buccaneers –2.5 (–106) at 888sport