Dallas Cowboys (2-6 SU, 2-6 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5 SU, 4-4 ATS)
NFL Week 10
Date/Time: Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 1PM EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DAL +1.5/TB -1.5
Over/Under Total: 43
On Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, the Dallas Cowboys meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last week,, both teams came up short. The Cowboys lost their 6th game in a row with an overtime 33-27 loss to the Eagles at home. They tried hard, but continue to struggle finding their way without the services of Tony Romo. They did, however, illustrate a lot of grit and a still-strong fighting spirit. Tampa lost on Sunday, as well, falling to the Giants at home, 32-18, to fall to 3-5 on the season. They had a golden opportunity to even their record at the .500 mark, but came up short. At the same time, they have been showing signs of life lately and hope to notch a nice win at home on Sunday.
Part of Tampas growth in recent games is due to the improvement of top pick and rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Things looked ugly early for the rookie, with mistakes and a lack of vision making some wonder how the top-prized rookie would pan out. And not that hes now knocking it out of the park, but were starting to see better decision-making, in addition to a reduction of costly mistakes. He has gone 4 games now without throwing an interception.
Against the Giants on Sunday, however, the team saw their own efforts rendered moot with costly turnovers and penalties that were daggers in the back. Winston connected nicely with Mike Evans on Sunday, with Evans going for 152 yards. Doug Martin and especially Charles Sims added some key runs. But with Evans, Martin, and Sims all coughing up fumbles, it really hurt the Bucs on Sunday. Also hurting is the fact that though Tampa has a heavily-stocked receiving corps, not everyone has been healthy at the same time. Winston and the entire team would benefit from having everyone healthy and with Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins getting healthy and listed as questionable for this game, that might be coming soon.
Tampas defense has been a bit disappointing, assuming that the high expectations were not misplaced. When reviewing the talent that exists on that side of the ball, one would expect a better showing most weeks. They are giving up 28.9 points per game, which is certainly on the high side. And while they play better when not being hung out to dry by the offense, their playmaking ability has been muted this season and theyre simply not making the impact that many suspected. And when its time to be clutch, theyre often times nowhere to be found.
There are obviously enough things to call out Tampa for this season. But are they really worse than we thought they would be? This is a season for them to create something for the future. So lets not get on their case for not being playoff-bound, as that was never really anticipated to be in the cards anyway. If they can just merely be respectable this season, it would be a good prelude for bigger things in upcoming seasons. And so far, theyre doing just that. Theyve managed a 3-5 record with an offensive line that is still finding their legs, injuries and disappointing performances from skill-players, and a ton of youth.
The results certainly havent been there for the Cowboys. A team that got as close as they got last year to some truly big things, suffering 6 straight losses has to be a hard pill to swallow. You have to wonder if that will start to resonate more as the hopelessness of their situation begins to crystallize. In the NFC East, no team is really out of it, but even in that context, the Cowboys are in big trouble.
At least the Cowboys woes are not due to a lack of effort. They really have been trying and giving it all they have. Matt Cassel really fought on Sunday, with nearly 300 yards. WR Dez Bryant made his presence known with some big plays, including a gritty late TD catch that kept them in the game. WR Cole Beasley stepped up with two touchdown receptions. And another big game from Darren McFadden, who has 333 yards in his last three games, almost got the Cowboys over the hump. But alas, they came up short in OT, on the heels of another painful loss the week before, a 13-12 defeat to Seattle. Its a frustrating situation in Dallas. Four of their last 5 losses have been tough defeats to absorb spiritually. Can the Cowboys continue finding reasons to give good efforts or are they starting to get run ragged by the sheer frustration of their predicament?
For at least this week, Dallas will still be without Romo. They had 3 of their last 4 games at home, however, and now have to hit pay dirt on the road. Whats really been lacking from this Cowboys bunch is a unified effort where all aspects of the team congeal to make up for the massive void left by Romo. Some weeks, the run game steps up, the QB plays well, or the D bridges the gap. But they havent been able to have the entire team band together to make up for the loss of production that has been lost over the several weeks. Also not helping is the reversal in form when it comes to making timely plays. Early in the season, they were able to provide the big plays and drives when most needed, but not so much in the last 6 games.
There doesnt seem to be much reason for Dallas to stop trying hard now, though the draining nature of their recent stretch of games could start to manifest this week in a tricky road spot. But without Romo, weve seen enough of a sample size to deduce that Dallas just isnt very good and their mojo is almost completely gone. They should still manage to remain competitive with the likes of Tampa, but I see the Bucs as the better overall package right now, so Im going with the home team.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers minus 1.5 points.
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