Tampa Bay at Kansas City
Time: NOON CT (FOX)
Spread: KC -7.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 4-5 and in second place in the NFC South behind the 6-4 Atlanta Falcons. Making up ground will not be easy at it is 7.5 point underdogs on the road at Kansas City in NFL odds this week at 5dimes. The over/under is set at 44.5 for the gam which will air at Noon (Central) on FOX.
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Tampa Bay is coming off a 36-10 win over the Chicago Bears last week, but the 43-28 loss to Atlanta the week before stung. The Bucs will face Seattle, San Diego, New Orleans and Dallas over the next four weeks, with the New Orleans and Dallas contests being road games. A 2-2 split would probably be realistic, but winning this week is no given as more than TD underdogs against a tough Chiefs team. Kansas City is 7-2 and a perfect 4-0 at home this season.
Part of what has 73.6 percent of fans picking Kansas City to win this game (on ESPN), is the Chiefs outstanding defense. Kansas City surrenders just 18.7 points per game, ranking No. 7 in the NFL and helping the team maintain a 5.1 point differential as it scores 22.8 per game (No. 17). The offense has not been particularly dynamic, ranking No. 22 and No. 20 in passing yardage and rushing yardage, but the Chiefs ave given up 21 points or less in its past five games, and only three teams have scored more than 20 against Kansas City this season (New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and San Diego).
Offensively, the Chiefs have received efficient production from QB Alex Smith. He has thrown for 1,816 yards on the season at a 66.1 percent completion ratio with just a 1.1 percent interception percentage, but he also averages just 6.7 yards per attempt with only eight passing TDs on the season to his three INTs. Smith has also been sacked 18 times and averages just 1.9 yards per rush attempt on his 23 tries this season. It has made the rushing of Spencer Ware slightly less impactful, as he is averaging 5.0 yards per carry with 32 first downs. Ware has just two rushing TDs on the year though and three fumbles, all of which were lost.
Charcandrick West has been mediocre with just 3.8 yards per attempt while no other Chiefs have seen many touches. The team averages just 99.7 yards per game on the ground, and Ware accounts for 71.5 of that.
Travis Kelce has been successful in catching 42 of 58 targeted passes for 466 yards and a team-high three TDs. He has five plays over 20-yards and 27 first downs, which ranks him No. 2 and No. 1 respectively in those categories. Jeremy Maclin (out due to groin injury) has caught 30 passes for 376 yards and two TDs, while Chris Conley averages 36.2 yards per game as one of five Chiefs receivers to average 35 yards or more per game. Even so, there have been just 11 passing TDs on the season with Nick Foles having thrown three of them on his 55 attempts this season.
Smith threw 19 of 22 for 224 yards in the win over Oakland, but he had no TD passes in the game. The Chiefs did average 10.18 yards per attempt, which was his high water mark of the season after averaging just 5.74 yards per attempt on 30 completed passes in the 14-43 loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 2.
Tampa Bay snapped a two-game skid with its win over Chicago, and is now seeking the chance to pull to .500. The Bucs lost to Oakland and Atlanta prior to last week’s win, and the team started the season 1-3 after losing to Arizona, St. Louis and Denver in Weeks 2 through 4. The Bucs rank No. 15 in passing yardage at 252.7 per game and No. 17 in rushing at 104.9 per game, but its offense still ranks just No. 14 at 23.8 points per game.
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It is defensively where the Bucs have lost games. Tampa is surrendering 26.9 points per game, ranking No. 26 in the NFL. It has given up 83 points the last three weeks while allowing Atlanta to score 43.
Second-year quarterback Jameis Winston is showing all the signs, though. He has 2,349 yards on the season with 19 TDs, 10 interceptions and a passer rating of 87.5. Winston is completing 60.2 percent of his passes. He has struggled rushing the football, with just 2.8 yards per attempt on his 27 carries, but Tampa Bay is getting good production from Jacquizz Rodgers, who has 393 yards and two TDs on 88 carries. He will be unavailable due to a sprained foot.
Peyton Barber has 160 yards, but the loss of Doug Martin to injury has been a huge setback for the Bucs. Martin is expected to be active on Sunday, but his workload is going to be “limited” it was reported by Ian Rapoport. Even if the Bucs can manage to work him into five to eight carries, his valuable production should give the Bucs a boost back towards reasonable Wild Card contention.
Mike Evans has been Tampa’s top receiver with 811 yards and eight TDs on the season. He has caught just 59 of 108 targeted passes, but averages 13.7 yards per attempt with eight plays greater than 20-yards on the season and 49 first downs. No other Bucs receiver is close, with Cameron Brate’s 375 yards and five TDs ranking as the next-biggest contribution. Getting Martin back will increase the viability of even this pass cabinet, and certanly Winston has been a good accurate passer, though his 3.0 percent interception ratio can bear to improve certainly.
The Bucs need to seek the defensive improvement, because this offense is good enough to win it some football games if Tampa can stop giving up 40-plus points to loaded teams like Atlanta, who it chases in the standings. Now that Martin is back healthy, perhaps Tampa Bay can make up some of the ground.