If you want to bet on the NFL, there’s still plenty of room to makethe Tampa Bay Buccaneers your NFL pick. Maybe some of those deserting Detroit Lions supporters will jump on board this Sunday.
NFL betting is always a tale of two half-seasons. Last year at this time, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 6-4 SU and 8-2 ATS; they went 1-5 SU and 2-3-1 ATS to close out the 2012 campaign. The Detroit Lions started 4-6 SU and ATS, then finished with six more losses at 2-4 ATS. Painful.
With that in mind, are you ready to throw your hard-earned cash at the Buccaneers? They’ve cashed in three times in a row, winning twice outright, after stumbling to the midway point of the 2013 season at 0-7 SU and 1-6 ATS. As for the Lions (6-4 SU, 5-5 ATS), our preseason Regression Darlings have dropped the cash in three of their last four. Would you bet on them again as 9.5-point home favorites on the Week 12 NFL odds? Our early consensus reports say only 42 percent of you would.
Rainey Days and Sundays
Before we get too excited about those two Tampa Bay victories, keep in mind they came at home against the freshly scandalized Miami Dolphins (–2.5) and the Atlanta Falcons (+1). But these are still victories nonetheless, and they point toward the continuing success of new starting QB Mike Glennon, who did a number on the sad Falcons defense with 231 yards and a pair of TDs on 20-of-23 passing.
Glennon’s work last week was overshadowed somewhat by the surprise performance from back-up RB Bobby Rainey, who changed hands from the Baltimore Ravens to the Cleveland Browns before joining Tampa Bay in Week 9. Pressed into service following the loss of Doug Martin (torn labrum) and Mike James (broken ankle), Rainey rushed for 163 yards on 30 carries against Atlanta, scoring three touchdowns in all. This was after scoring the game-winning TD against the Dolphins in relief of James. As long as Tampa Bay keeps running, Glennon will keep getting his chances downfield.
Gird Thy Lions
Which brings us to the curious case of the Detroit defense. This unit was supposed to be healthy and hale this year after slipping to No. 24 on the efficiency charts in 2012. There has been some improvement, but the Lions remain below average at No. 19 in defensive efficiency (No. 23 pass, No. 6 rush). And things could get worse if SS Glover Quin doesn’t recover from the ankle injury that knocked him out of last week’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Without Quin, Detroit’s defense collapsed in the fourth quarter as Pittsburgh (sportsbooks had them +3 at home) won 37-27.
Detroit’s high-octane offense (No.7 in efficiency) doesn’t get a free ride out of this. The Lions may have QB Matthew Stafford (92.0 passer rating) and WR Calvin Johnson (59 catches for 1,083 yards and 11 TDs), but the running game ranks just No. 16 in efficiency. RB Reggie Bush (4.5 yards per carry) was No. 14 in the league through Week 10 with 77 rushing DYAR. Bush was also benched during the second half of the Pittsburgh game after committing two fumbles – only one of which was caught by the officials.
If you feel a bit queasy about supporting the Buccaneers on Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX), you can always run into the waiting arms of the NFL total, which is set at 48.5 points. The OVER is 4-0 for Detroit at Ford Field this year and 6-0 in Tampa Bay’s last six games overall. But I wouldn’t hesitate to grab the Bucs as buy-low candidates for your NFL pick. Hey, it’s working for Detroit’s real estate market.
NFL Pick: Take the Buccaneers +10 (–120) at Marathon