Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (11-2 SU, 9-4 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time:Sunday, December 18th 2016 at 8:30pm EST
Where: AT&T Stadium - Arlington, TX
by Bob, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TB +7 / DAL -7
Over/Under Total: 46
This Sunday night in Arlington, Texas, we have an NFC game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that could also be a preview of an NFC playoff match-up. Dallas comes in at 11-2 overall and in sole possession of first place in the NFC East while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 8-5 and are tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the lead of the NFC South division. Dallas had been the hottest team in all of the NFL until their loss to the Giants last week and the Bucs are on a five game winning streak themselves. This should be a great prime time game so make sure you tune in.
The early line has the Cowboys as a touchdown home favorite and the total points are 46 combined. As of late Monday night, a majority of the action was on the Bucs to get the cover. 64% of the betting action on Monday likes Tampa to go into Dallas and keep this game within a touchdown. The total points of 46 may be dropping soon due to another 68% of the action liking the total to fall under. Against the spread this season, Dallas is 9-4 while Tampa is 8-5. This is going to be a tight one I think.
Dallas had won eleven straight games until they lost to the Giants by a 10-7 score this past Sunday night. The Cowboys are still the top seed in the NFC and are two games ahead of Detroit so it appears Dallas should and will remain the top seed...or at least I would bet they would. My personal opinion is that Dallas is not as good as their record indicates. No, I am not a hater, I just do not think Dallas is that much better than the other NFC playoff teams including Tampa. Everyone has been very high on rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott and they are getting much of the credit for the Cowboys record. Both have played well but Elliott is the main one. Dak is getting a lot of love because he is the quarterback but Elliott and the O line has Dallas ranked 2nd in the NFL in rushing with 152 yards per game average. Dallas ranks 20th in passing. Yes, one can say that the passing yards are down because "they do not need to pass with such a great run game." Well, we just saw this past week what happens when the run is stopped. The New York Giants may have shown the NFL the blueprint of how to beat Dallas.
Don't get me wrong, Dallas is a good team. You cannot go 11-2 in the NFL without being a good team, I am just saying that they are not an unbeatable juggernaut and I seriously do not believe they will make the Super Bowl. However, that is not the focus this weekend. The focus is this game against Tampa. The key for Dallas is to get their run game back. If Tampa is able to stop the run and force Prescott to win with his arm, this could be another ugly game for Dallas. Run game is a must! As for the defense, just keep playing D like they have all season and the Cowboys should be okay.
Tampa has come on strong the last few weeks. They have not lost a game since November 3rf to the Atlanta Falcons. Since that time, the Bucs have been tough, especially on defense. Tampa now after starting 3-5 and 0-4 at home are sitting at 8-5 and tied with Atlanta for the NFC South lead. At this time, Atlanta has the tie breaker but Tampa is in the playoffs if the season ended today as a wild card team. The key to this weekend is stopping the run. Lately, the Buccaneers defense has held opposing offenses in check and they need to keep that alive if they want to beat Dallas on Sunday night. Tampa has the 22nd ranked defense in the NFL but over this five game winning streak they are only allowing a little over 12 points per contest. If the Bucs are able to stop Ezekiel Elliott and force Dallas to pass not only do I think they can keep this game close, I think Tampa can win this one outright.
Tampa has been involved in some ugly games as of late, but they are ugly games that they find a way to win. 16-11, 14-5, 19-17...These are the recent scores for Tampa games yet they found a way to win each one of them. I think they again keep the game close. As much as I want to say Tampa not only covers but wins outright, I will still respect Dallas at home and say the Cowboys win a close one. I think Dallas wins another ugly game with a 16-13 score to move to 12-2 while Tampa covers the seven.
Bob's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: TAKE TAMPA BAY +7 AND UNDER THE POSTED TOTAL
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