Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8 SU, 3-6 ATS) vs. Washington Redskins (3-6 SU, 3-6 ATS
NFL Week 11
Date and Time: Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TB +8.5/WAS -8.5
Over/Under Total: 45.5
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On Sunday at FedEx Field, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come into town to face the Washington Redskins. While neither team is doing particularly well at a combined 4-14, this is nevertheless an interesting matchup from a wagering perspective. The Redskins had won two in a row before falling to the Vikings on Sunday, 29-26. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, lost their fifth game in a row on Sunday with a 27-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
The Buccaneers are one of the more invisible teams this season, but rest assured, you havent missed much. Their only win came against Pittsburgh and theyve been getting beat by some pretty bad teams, including Atlanta on Sunday. They lost to Cleveland and Baltimore, but in their other six losses, they lost to 6 teams who now have a combined record of 20-38. So yeah, theyre playing the Redskins, but theyve been getting hammered by even worse team this year so far.
And one shouldnt be so hasty to call the Redskins a bad team. Theyre 3-6 and the bottom line is hard to argue. But after two straight wins followed by a field goal loss, theyre doing pretty well. They beat the Cowboys on the road, nearly beat the Eagles on the road, and performed capably against good teams like Seattle and Arizona. Theyd be doing even better if they had played Tampas schedule. And thats how you get a 3-6 team as a robust 8.5-point favorite.
The Skins saw the return of Robert Griffin, III. on Sunday. Coming back from injury, not much was really expected and his performance was just so-so. Look for him to get better, perhaps starting this week. He made a nice connection with WR DeSean Jackson, who had 120 yards receiving. And Alfred Morris ran for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns. But a late Vikings TD drive spoiled a Redskins win.
Washington, despite starting three different quarterbacks this season, have the 6th-most prolific passing offense in the NFL. Theyre also good against the pass, ranking 6th. They are just average against the run. And they allow 25.4 points per game, good for only 23rd in the league. The defense has shown a general lack of clutch play, giving up big plays and drives and the most inopportune of times. They are 29th in turnover margin. Injuries have really snake-bitten the Skins D. But with Alfred Morris picking up steam, this offense is starting to feature a nice balance to it and maybe they can do a better job of keeping their defense off the field.
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Tampa has lost 5 in a row. Only one of those defeats was by more than 10 points, so at least theyre not getting annihilated. But its been a tough year for first-year coach Lovie Smith, as he struggles to find something on a team that has major personnel issues across most areas. There were actually some good signs on Sunday, with QB Josh McCown going for over 300 yards in his first game back in action after missing two months with an injury. Tampa was banking on rookie Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson being a great 1-2 punch and we saw some of that on Sunday, with Evans going for 125 yards, while Jackson added 8 catches. Still, all that only computed to 17 points of scoring. Tampa had 3 turnovers and like Washington, are toward the bottom of the league in turnover ratio.
Against a Washington passing offense that can move the ball, Tampa needs to perform better. They are second-last in pass defense, giving up 277 yards per game. Its going to be hard to cover a spread if the Redskins are moving up and down the field, with RG3 spraying the ball around to all his weapons. Thats a big potential match-up issue the Bucs face heading into Sunday.
Offensively, Tampas picture is only slightly more-rosy. If they can cut out their mistakes, they do have some nice aerial weapons, with Evans, Jackson, Louis Murphy, and emergent tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. But the run game is really struggling. Injuries have rendered Doug Martin a spent force. Bobby Rainey had one good game all season. In 9 games, they have scored 4 rushing touchdowns, two of them by the quarterback.
The trepidation in laying a big number on the Redskins is understandable. Usually when laying a number fringing on double-digits, youd like to do so with a team that is more solid and has shown a knack for actually winning games. Since September 2013, Washington has only won a game by more than 8.5 points once–and that came against lowly Jacksonville. So to back them here means youre asking them to do something they almost never do, which is beat a team conclusively.
Even so, FedEx Field is not an easy place to play and the Redskins look like theyve elevated their overall play in the past month. The loss to the Vikes on Sunday wasnt a great sign, but it was RG3s first game back and one should expect him to turn it loose a bit this week. It may be asking a lot, but I expect the Redskins to have a good game on Sunday and cover the spread.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Washington Redskins minus 8.5 points.