Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (4-3 SU, 4-1-2 ATS)
NFL Week 9
Date and Time: Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TB +7/CLE -7
Over/Under Total: 43.5
Bet your Bucs/Browns pick at an online sportsbook where your credit card WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 50% bonus up to $250 FREE: Bovada Sportsbook. Great live in-game betting too!
On Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come into FirstEnergy Stadium to face the Cleveland Browns. Tampa is 1-6 and not much better at the betting windows, having covered just two spreads this season. On Sunday against the Vikings, they lost in overtime, 19-13. The Browns actually have a pretty good chance to go to 5-3 this week and have won 3 of 4 games, including a 23-13 Sunday win over the Oakland Raiders.
For a team that has struggled for over a decade to field a decent team, there is only so much you can say bad about a 4-3 Cleveland squad. But the schedule has been somewhat favorable. They beat a struggling Saints team, had a 1-point win at home over the Titans, and then they beat the winless Raiders last week. They even managed to lose to Jacksonville along the way, in the Jaguars only win of the season. In their best showing, they thumped the Steelers, 31-10 three weeks ago. Maybe they will benefit from facing a struggling Tampa team this week.
The Buccaneers have been somewhat invisible. But rest assured–youre not missing much. Their first two losses of the season, to Carolina and St. Louis, were by a combined 8 points. Add in overtime setbacks to the Saints and Vikings and theres 4 losses that were at least close. The bottom line of a 1-6 record is disappointing, but in the middle of a transition phase, its to be expected. Theyre really not all that bad. And in a game against a team like Cleveland, whos to say they wont be competitive?
Clevelands offense is a middling unit and thats actually a bonanza compared to the anemic Browns offense of recent seasons. They suffered a massive loss with the season-ending injury to C Alex Mack, but the offensive line hasnt been bad at all. And QB Brian Hoyer, while not setting the world on fire, is not messing up much, either. He has thrown only 2 picks, while operating smartly with his receiver crew and relying on a growing ground game. The ball-catching package of Andrew Haskins, Miles Austin, Taylor Gabriel, and Jordan Cameron isnt going to elicit much fear, nor will the RB-package of Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell. But its an efficient group.
The Cleveland defense has been pretty clutch. Theyre not particularly good against the pass, having allowed some big performances to opposing quarterbacks this season. And theyre third-last in the NFL against the run. So you see an offense that is mid-pack at best and a defense that isnt all that robust and you may wonder how they are 4-3. The Browns caught the Saints and Steelers on particularly bad days, with those teams perhaps having their worst games of the season. And the Titans and Raiders are just plain bad. But having failed to cover the spread just once this season, its fair to say the Browns are playing well. For them.
DEPOSIT $100 AND GET $100 FREE AT GTBETS
Tampa is going with Mike Glennon at quarterback, with Josh McCown not really delivering in the starting role. And from time to time, Glennon has managed to get this offense moving. Sometimes, you get scores in the teens and other times, they can get up there in the thirties. But for the most part, its been an uninspiring group. Injuries have helped render Doug Martin a diminished force at running back. Leading rusher Bobby Rainey has only 287 yards, half of those coming in one game. And what could be a big 1-2 punch at receiver with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans has been just so-so.
On paper, the Bucs should be better than they are on offense, even with the lack of a true number-one quarterback. They have two good tight ends in Brandon Myers and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and two huge-bodied receivers in Jackson and Evans. But Doug Martins demise, uneven quarterback play, and an underachieving line have seen this offense often stuck in the mud. And with a defense that is dead-last in points allowed, the offense is often saddled with more than they are built to withstand.
The Browns should be able to move the ball against Tampa at home. And while the Cleveland D has its share of bad moments, the secondary can make some plays. Cleveland is tied for 4th in turnover margin. But the Buccaneers have been right in games 5 out of 7 games this season, though they only have one win to show for it. Still, Cleveland is improving and a win here would really give them something to build on for the second-half of the season.
Its just difficult to buy into Cleveland in the role of a touchdown-favorite. Theyre plucky and on the rise as a franchise that has suffered for years, but Tampa might not quite be the punching bag theyve been made out to be. I look for the Bucs to hang in there and cover the spread, with an outside shot of winning the game outright.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus 7 points.