NFL Picks: With Bears Defense Reeling, Over 45.5 Has Value vs. Buccaneers

Mark Lathrop

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 10:14 PM GMT

With both of these teams out of playoff contention, our NFL handicapper looks at recent trends to make his NFL pick on the total.

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NFL Pick: Over 45.5

Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

With both the 5-9 Chicago Bears and 6-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers eliminated from playoff contention, they only have pride to play for in this Week 16 matchup in the NFL. There has already been some line movement in this one, as Tampa Bay was opened as a 2.5-point favorite at Pinnacle, only to see that line rise to 3 points within minutes. The O/U total opened at 45.5 points on the NFL odds board at multiple sites. Both teams have split ATS and O/U totals this year, with Tampa Bay and Chicago going 7-7 ATS and 7-7 O/U. Let’s investigate the matchup further to see if there is clear value with one side or the other.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay has lost two games in a row coming into Week 16 after surprisingly reaching a 6-6 record with rookie QB, Jameis Winston, under center. In their last game against the St. Louis Rams the Buccaneers were bum-rushed out of the gate, going into halftime trailing 21-6. The Rams and Case Keenum were able to use an efficient passing game to put up early points, and Keenum ended the game with an impressive 82.4 completion percentage and perfect 158.0 QB Rating.

The Rams ended up winning the game 31-23, and one positive for the Buccaneers that they could take is the amount of yardage that the offense was able to rack up in the second half. Winston ended the day with a line of 29-50, 363 yards, 2/1 TD/INT ratio, and a QB Rating of 85.7. All told, the Buccaneers outgained the Rams 509-319 in total yards, but they could never overcome their slow start and a 2-0 turnover ratio in favor of the Rams. Even the Tampa Bay running game was effective, with Doug Martin and Charles Sims racking up 141 yards on 25 carries, good for a 5.6-yard average per carry.

 

Chicago Bears
The Bears have little good to take away from their last loss, a 38-17 drubbing by the Minnesota Vikings. It was their eighth strait loss in the month of December. In that game Minnesota QB, Teddy Bridgewater, was apparently playing the Bears on “novice” mode as he posted a line of 17-20, 231 yards, 85% completion percentage, and a 4/0 TD/INT ratio. Not quite done, Bridgewater threw in a rushing touchdown in the game for good measure. I guess this is what to be expected from the 28th ranked defense as ranked by efficiency.

The injuries have piled up all season for the Bears, and continued to do so in this game. Top receiver Alshon Jeffery scored a touchdown against the Vikings, but also aggravated a nagging hamstring injury. With the Bears out of playoff contention, it has yet to be determined if Jeffery will try to tough his injury out for the rest of the season. The offensive line is also playing through all types of injuries and have been ineffective. Jay Cutler was sacked 5 times against the Vikings in Week 15.

With Tampa Bay at home and feeling healthier than the Bears, I certainly wouldn’t fault anyone for backing the Bucs in this one -3. I don’t like taking a side the week after both teams have been eliminated from the post season though. I think with the recent trends and injury status of a whole host of Chicago defensive backs, the value in this game is going to be in taking the over. The over has cashed in the last three games for Chicago – even the dumpster fire 49ers put 26 points on them at home. The line is trending up, so you’ll want to grab this one early and take over 45.5 at 5Dimes as one of your Week 16 NFL picks.