Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) +3, 48 O/U at Denver Broncos (3-1) -3,
48 O/U, Invesco Field, Denver, Colo., 4:05 PM Eastern, Sunday

by Badger of Predictem.com

Two teams both sitting atop their respective divisions with identical
3-1 records get set to meet in a key battle, with both looking to
take the next step towards a division title when the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers travel to Invesco Field to take on the Denver Broncos.

Tampa, currently tied with the Carolina Panthers in the NFCs South
Division, enters the game fresh off of big 30-21 victory over Green
Bay in the Battle of the Bays last Sunday. The Bucs defense turned
up the pressure on the Packers forcing four turnovers in the win,
while the offense controlled the clock and the pace of the game with
178 yards rushing on 41 attempts.

The Broncos, a game ahead of San Diego in the AFC West, enter the contest on a down note following an embarrassing loss to the division
rival Kansas City Chiefs, 33-19, last Sunday. After looking like the
second coming of John Elway through the first three games, Denver
quarterback Jay Cutler threw two interceptions and the Broncos lost
two fumbles as they once again had trouble finding a way to get out
of K.C. with a win.

Sportsbook.com opened the game with Denver as 3.5-point favorites at home
in Invesco, but the number has dropped to 3 points after early money
came in on the Bucs. The over/under total opened at 48 and is holding
steady, while the Broncos are slight -167 favorites on the moneyline
with Tampa Bay as +157 underdogs.


The Bucs played a solid game on offense Sunday to notch their third straight victory after opening the season with a loss at New Orleans.
Quarterback Brian Griese seems to have sparked the Bucs offense, even
though he has only hit on 55 percent of his passes and has more
interceptions (6) than touchdowns (4).

Despite Grieses less than stellar numbers, the Bucs still feature the leagues 7th overall offense (361 ypg) and the 9th-ranked passing
(227.2 ypg) and rushing attack (133.8 ypg) thanks in part to the
strong running of Earnest Graham (334 yds., 2 TD).

Denver is the top-ranked team in the NFL in total yards averaging 435.5 yards a game. Last week the Broncos still managed to rack up
446 yards of total offense, but turnovers kept them to just 19
points. Cutler leads a passing attack that is 2nd at 314 yards a
game, and 2nd in points per game at 33.2.

The Broncos need to score every single point they can because they field one of the NFLs worst defenses. The unit ranks toward the
bottom in just about every defensive category, including 29th in
points allowed (29.2 ppg), 30th in total yards allowed (411.2 ypg)
and dead last in passing yards per game 278.5. That last statistic is
the most surprising because the Broncos still have two of the games
better corners in Dre Bly and Champ Bailey.

Its no secret that Tampas success over the past few years has been keyed by a strong defense, and this season the Bucs have gone back to
that formula. The unit is not the greatest on the stat sheet (just
13th overall 314.5 ypg), but they seem to have a knack for coming
up with key plays in key situations and they are good at keeping the
ball out of the end zone (10th in points allowed 19.5 ppg). They do
tend to give up yards through the air though (21st vs. the pass
216.5 ypg), which should be interesting to watch this week against
Cutler and the Broncos passing attack.

This will be the first game between these two teams in awhile, as they havent met since the Broncos went on the road to defeat the
Bucs, 16-13, in Tampa in October of 2004. All time they have split
their four meetings head-to-head 2-2 straight up, while Tampa
actually owns a 2-0-2 ATS record in the series. The over/under record
for the four contests favors the under at 1-3, including the last two
games played in the series (both in Tampa).

Because of the lack of head-to-head contests between the two, finding solid betting trends to read is a hard task.

Tampa is a solid 3-1 ATS so far in 2008, while the Broncos are a juice sucking 1-2-1 ATS on the year. But Denver has come in over the
total in all four games so far in 08, while the Bucs have come in
over the total in all but one so far with a 3-1 over/under record.

Even with Tampas defensive reputation, the over has cashed in at the
window in eight of the Bucs last 10 games overall and is 6-0 in their
last six games on the road. The over is also a strong play in Broncos
games as well, going 13-3-1 in their last 17 home games and 21-5-1 in
their last 27 games overall.

Badgers Pick: Cutler has the rocket arm that can take advantage of the deep holes in the now famous Tampa Cover 2 secondary. The
Broncos defense is also a sieve when it comes to yardage and points,
so until something happens to prove otherwise Im taking the over of
48 in this game.