St. Louis Rams (6-7-1 SU, 8-6 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8 SU, 9-5 ATS)
NFL Football Week 16
Date: Sunday, December 23, 2012, 1:00PM EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium Tampa Bay, Florida
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: STL +3/TB -3
Over/Under Total: 43.5
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Well, the playoff races are winding down and teams are starting to clinch spots, while others are being eliminated with each loss. This Sunday we have a matchup of two teams who will not be enjoying football come the new year. This matchup will feature the St. Louis Rams who will travel south to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Just a few weeks ago, Tampa seemed to be in position for a possible playoff spot but after dropping their last four contests, they are now out of the hunt. The Rams were in and out of the hunt all season. They held their own twice against the San Francisco 49ers, but they suffered losses to teams like Detroit, Miami, and New York (Jets). This inconsistency is what has kept the Rams out of the post season the last two years. This will be a tough game to gauge since neither team really has anything to play for, but sometimes, these are the most fun games to watch.
The Rams will come into Tampa sporting a 5-7-1 record. Like I said earlier, they have played very inconsistent all season long. They not only took the 49ers to an overtime tie a few weeks ago, but a couple of weeks after that, they again took them to overtime only to pull off the upset. The Rams have talent, but much of it is young and/or inexperienced. On a positive note however, St. Louis does rank 9th in the NFL against the pass, and have held some pretty potent offenses to some low scores, including only giving up 13 in a win over Seattle and 13 in their win over the Niners. If the Rams are focused and prepared, they can be as dangerous as anyone in all of the NFL. The Rams have no problem getting the yards, but they don’t score as much as they would like. Sam Bradford has thrown for over 3,000 and Steven Jackson is on the verge of yet another 1,000 rushing season, but they are only averaging a little over 18 points a contest. This is what is key in this matchup at Tampa. The Rams will need to turn those yards into points and make sure not to turn the ball over giving Tampa easy opportunities. The Rams are used to playing inside but the weather should be nice in this game and should not play a role in the Rams ability to score.
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On paper, the Bucs actually look like a pretty good team. They come into this game ranked 1st in all of the NFL against the run, and rank 12th in passing. Usually, those numbers should be a recipe for success. This Tampa team is looking a lot like the squad from last year: Strong start only to fall apart as the year goes on. At one point in this season, Tampa Bay sat at 6-4 and looking at their schedule, it seemed like they had a legitimate shot to be one of the NFC wildcard teams. Since that time, they have lost four straight games, including a 41-0 massacre to their NFC South rival, the New Orleans Saints. The Bucs are now just playing for pride. Josh Freeman has been up and down and he would like nothing more than to get himself back on track and have some positive momentum heading into the offseason. Along with Freeman, Doug Martin would love to finish out this season in impressive fashion. He has already gone over 1,200 yards rushing and has put the ball into the endzone 10 times. The Bucs just like the Rams have the tools to beat people, will they be prepared is the question. Score points and stop the run. If Tampa can do these two things, they should have a good day in front of their home crowd.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This game isn’t easy to handicap since neither team is playing for much. I have pointed out both the good and the bad for both of these squads and neither of them stand out as the true favorite to me. Typically when this happens, I go with the underdog, and that’s exactly what I am doing here. To me, the Rams have played just a little bit better than Tampa over the last month or so. Tampa, like last year, appears to have given up. Just look at last week’s game versus the Saints. I like the Rams to keep this thing close and low scoring. I am prepared to see a 14-10 or 17-14 type finish. Take the Rams plus the 3. PICK: RAMS +3
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