Thursday Night NFL Picks: Expert's Final Thoughts On Bucs vs. Rams

Kevin Stott

Thursday, December 17, 2015 12:20 PM GMT

Thursday Night Football is back and we preview the clash between the Tampa Bay Bucs & the St. Louis Rams. Get the best NFL odds analysis and NFL picks you can find.

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Free NFL Picks: 1st Quarter Under 7½ -150; Under 42 -129
Best Lines Offered: at Bet365

 

Week 15 kicks off on in primetime on Thursday night as it usually does these days with another Lump of Coal in our Gridiron stockings, this “present” an NFL snoozer from the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis between Rookie RB Todd Gurley and the host Rams and Rookie QB Marcus Mariota and the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ho, ho ho? Let’s look at the last 10 results in this NFC inter-divisional series, the Trends and all of the other numbers which will help us make an educated pick or two in a game in which the NFL Commissioner should be thankful that there’s a little thing called sports gambling.

 

Odds Overview
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at St. Louis Rams: Rookie RB Todd Gurley and the St. Louis Rams (5-8 SU, 5-7-1 ATS) welcome Rookie QB Marcus Mariota (6-7 SU, 7-6 ATS to the Gateway City and the Edward Jones Dome for a Thursday night primetime game which now only matters to visitors from the Sunshine State, Tampa Bay, in the context of shooting for a Wild Card spot heading in, who for now are still the projected 7th-seed in the NFC, despite losing to the Saints on Sunday in Week 13 (the Rams are the 11th seed). Current Odds have the host Rams as 2-point Home chalks (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) with the the Total (Points) in this game at 41 almost everywhere with a 41½ (MGM Mirage) still hanging on Wednesday afternoon, while in the Money Line (Winner) marketplace, St. Louis is small -135 favorites with the visiting Buccaneers lined at +114 on the takeback (Bet365). The St. Louis Rams Total Team Points is at 21½ (Ladbrokes) here while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Total Team Points is at 19 (Ladbrokes).

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened up the host Rams as 7-point favorites over the Buccaneers in their renowned NFL Games of the Year—released each Summer—for this one so you can see how much perceptions of both teams have changed, while the Advanced Line put out last midweek was Rams -1. The Buccaneers actually opened up as 2-point favorites Monday (SuperBook), so you can see that there has been an awful lot of early (Monday-Wednesday) action on this game with the Rams now favored, so probably (at least) 95% of this is that early, perceived Wiseguy/Sharp/Smart/Professional money pouring into the marketplace on the hosts in a game the General Public would be wondering what all of the fuss is about. Money. It’s usually always about Money.

 

Last 11 Final Scores St Louis Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2014—Rams 19 @ Buccaneers 17 (TB -4) Total Points: 36 (Under, 37½)
2013—@ Rams 23 Buccaneers 13 (STL -3) Total Points: 36 (Under, 43)
2012—Rams 28 @ Buccaneers 13 (TB -3) Total Points: 41 (Under, 43½)
2010—@ Buccaneers 18 Rams 17 (TB -3) Total Points Scored: 35 (Under, 39)
2007—@ Buccaneers 24 Rams 3 (TB -3½) Total Points Scored: 27 (Under, 38½)
2004—@ Rams 28 Buccaneers 21 (STL -6½) Total Points Scored: 49 (Over, 42½)
2002—Rams 26 @ Buccaneers 14 (STL -3) Total Points Scored: 40 (Under, 43)
2001—Bucs 24 @ Rams 17 (STL -10) Total Points: 41 (Under, 47) (@ Dome at America’s Center)
2000—@ Bucs 38 @ Rams 35 (STL -10) Total Points Scored: 73 (Over, 48½)
2000—@ Rams 11 Bucs 6 (STL -14½) Total Points: 17 (Under, 44½) (NFC Championship)
1994—@ Buccaneers 24 Rams 14 (TB -2½) Total Points: 38 (Under, 40) (@Tampa Stadium)

 

Why Take Under When It Seems Thursday Night Football Games Trend Over?
The Under (42½, MGM Mirage) seems to be worth a small- to moderate-sized play on Thursday Night Football for a number of reasons from both past and current data and feelings:

1—Both teams have trended to the Under this season with the Rams Unders a solid 10-3 ATS (77%) and Buccaneers Unders only slightly above .500 at 7-6.

2—Both teams have trended Under lately, with St. Louis Unders hitting a torrid 5 straight after Week 14’s Under against the Lions (41½, Rams 21-14) and 8 of the L9 and Tampa Bay Unders hitting 3 in a row and 4 of the L5. So that’s a total of 8 straight Unders between clubs and 12 Unders in the L14 overall between the two. Points won’t be scored.

3—Most Totals Trends point this way (Under) with the Under 8-3 ATS in the Buccaneers L11 games on the Road, the Under 12-5 ATS the L17 Tampa Bay games against the NFC and the Under a very impressive 36-16-1 ATS the L53 Rams games (69.2%) played in the month of December—impressive as probably half of those games were played in the Home of the Rams, the domed and aptly-named Edward Jones Dome in the Gateway City where Humidity always comes free of charge and Budweiser at local rates.

4—With the Rams realistically out of the Postseason most likely, they have been wisely sort-of resting their Future workhorse RB, Georgia Rookie Todd Gurley (975 yards, 5.2 ypc, 8 TDs; +500 First TD Scorer, William Hill), so as not to somehow get him freakishly injured with nothing to gain from a franchise POV. St. Louis has scored the 2nd-lowest number of Points (210) in the NFL heading in here and can thank their Lucky Ram Stars that their NFC West counterparts, the San Francisco 49ers, are allergic to scoring the Points (188). St. Louis (16.8 ppg) is 31st in Total Yards (297.9 ypg), 32nd in Passing (173.1 ypg) and is also the worst team in the NFL at converting FG Attempts (66.7%). Stink, stank, stunk.

5—The Under has hit 5 straight times in this series, and both teams have QBs tentative because of their realities: The Buccaneers’ Winston because he is a Rookie and still making the transition from NCAAF to the NFL, and with Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher frustrated with starter Nick Foles, former Texans backup Case Keenum (16/48, 260 yards, TD with Rams) will get the nod on TNF, so with a new team that has trouble scoring points and in a new role with Skill Players still unfamiliar with him (and vice versa), this should be a slow evolving game and the 1st Quarter Under (7½ -150, PaddyPower) is definitely worth consideration.

6—Although spread out over a long period of Time, the average number of Points Scored Per Game over the L11 meetings in this series isn’t as low as you would think and almost all of the Unders went under the posted Totals by a small amount—although at the Betting Window they don’t care if it went Under by a ½ point or 37. Under is Under. And these teams have seemed to have trouble scoring Points through the years, save for that momentary “The Greatest Show On Turf” in the Gateway City early in the new Millennium where a Human Being without a Smartphone is deemed a strange kind of Dinosaur with absolutely no comprehension of Reality because they’re not looking down at a handheld mobile device 24/7 seeing what others make their Cyber Reality as, ironically, they run into old-fashioned telephone poles.

 

Thoughts On The Total
Lowest Total in Market: 41
Consensus Total in Market: 41
Highest Total in Market: 41½ (MGM Mirage)
Totals Trends, Thoughts: As we have seen, the Under is an impressive 9-2 ATS in the L11 in this series and has hit 5 straight times although that Trend is as significant as it would be if these teams played twice each season and were division-mates. The side seems a tough call and the back-and-forth of the Point Spread has created enough vertigo to know this is one to stay away from in that aspect, and with the number so low (Rams -2), the Money Line isn’t worth a look for that same reason. Who knows who wins, and with both caring little and Keenum in for the host Rams, anything can happen and likely will. The Rams—along with the Minnesota Vikings (10-2-1) and the Atlanta Falcons (11-2)—are three of the strongest Under teams this season and blindly backing Rams Unders would have been a very wise and profitable proposition all season long because, as we noted this Summer, this is a team which has to play good Defense because the Offense is so damn anemic. It has hardly, if ever, happened in the history of the NFL before, but when you trade your starting QB (Sam Bradford) to another team (Philadelphia Eagles) for their starting QB (Nick Foles) in the Offseason, you know that things aren’t going so well on the Offensive side of the old Football. This sounds a little like trading a broken down old car for a broken down old car with all parties hoping to make Mercedez-Benz’s out of Lemons.

 

Thursday Night Football, Other Trends. How This NFC Snoozefest Could Play Out
As seen in the list above, the last meeting between these two saw the Rams win outright as 3-point underdogs in Tampa back in 2012, 28-13, while in the last game in this series here in the Show Me State, the Rams also won and covered ATS, this time as 3-point favorites in 2013, 23-13. St. Louis is an impressive 5-1 ATS the L6 against the Buccaneers and did beat Detroit on Sunday, but with those 2nd-least Total number of Points in the league (210), this is a tough call and a stinker of a primetime pick by the Suits and Ties. The Rams are 2-6 SU on Thursday nights and a lousy 1-6 ATS and 0-3 ATS as a Favorite while the visiting Buccaneers are 1-3 SU and 1-3 ATS and 1-1 ATS on the Road on Thursday Night Football so this game is like an act-off between Adam Sandler and Tyler Perry. The 1934 holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street is airing on AMC in prime-time (8 p.m. EST/PST) if you’re interested in some entertainment which won’t have you yelling at your TV set or potentially falling asleep in the 2nd Quarter.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: St. Louis Rams 20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17