Week 14 NFL Picks: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, December 9, 2012, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa Bay, Florida
Opening Line: Tampa Bay -8 1/2
Current Line: Tampa Bay -9 (+115)
Opening Total: 45 1/2
Current Total: 48
Opening Money Line: Buccaneers -365 / Eagles +305
Current Money Line: Buccaneers -360 / Eagles +300

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to get back on track against the slumping Philadelphia Eagles. The Buccaneers are 9 point favorites at home.

After a 3-1 start, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost 8 straight games to fall to 3-9. Coach Andy Reid will likely be fired at the end of the season, and quarterback Michael Vick will likely be traded or released. It doesn’t get any easier for the Eagles as they travel to the 6-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are in the thick of the NFC playoff picture under first year coach Greg Schiano. Tampa Bay is part of a group of four teams (the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, and Washington Redskins are the others) that are a game behind the Seattle Seahawks for the last wild card spot in the NFC.

The Eagles lost 38-33 last week at the Cowboys. Philadelphia is already eliminated from playoff contention. However, with games left against the Cincinnati Bengals, Redskins and New York Giants aside from the Tampa game the Eagles will play a large part in who goes to the playoffs.  The Eagles are 2-9-1 ATS and the total is 6-6 this season.Philadelphia has given up 30 points or more 5 times in their 8 game losing streak. It is the longest losing streak for the franchise since 1968.

The Buccaneers have lost 2 straight games, to the Atlanta Falcons and last week at the Denver Broncos 31-23. Tampa Bay has road games left at the New Orleans Saints and Falcons, so they need to take care of business against the reeling Eagles. The Buccs are 9-2-1 ATS and the total is 9-3 this season.The Buccaneers are 5-0 this season when rushing for 130 yards or more and 1-6 when they under that number.

Philly and Tampa Bay haven’t played since 2009, when the Eagles won 33-14. The Eagles are 4-3 against the Buccs since 2001. This is only the third game in Tampa Bay in that stretch.

The Eagles are averaging 362.6 yards per game on offense including 229 passing yards and 133.6 rushing yards. Philadelphia is being outscored 27-18 this season. The Eagles are -18 in turnovers. Philadelphia has forced 20 sacks and has allowed 35 this season. The Eagles are 71/177 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, Philadelphia is allowing 351.5 yards per game including 233.6 passing yards and 117.9 rushing yards.

After suffering a concussion several weeks ago against the Cowboys, Michael Vick hasn’t played. Rookie Nick Foles has taken over at quarterback. Reid announced this week that Foles would start for the rest of the season even when and/or if Vick gets healthy. Foles has completed 60.9% of his passes for 793 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He has been sacked 8 times this season. It doesn’t really matter who starts at quarterback because the offensive line is missing three starters and can’t protect Vick or Foles.

Running back LeSean McCoy has also missed the last two games with a concussion and is doubtful for the Tampa Bay game. McCoy has 177 carries, 750 yards, and 2 touchdowns, along with 40 catches, 235 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Bryce Brown has 75 carries, 488 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 9 catches. He has been the feature back without McCoy. Brown has rushed for 347 yards and 4 touchdowns in the last two games against Carolina and Dallas. Vick had 57 carries, but no other Eagle has more than 7 carries.

Leading receiver DeSean Jackson is out for the season with broken ribs. He had 45 catches, 700 yards and 9 touchdowns. Tight end Brent Celek has 50 catches, 601 yards and 9 touchdowns. Jeremy Maclin has 44 catches, 542 yards and 6 touchdowns. Jason Avant has 31 catches, 362 yards and 3 touchdowns. Damaris Johnson,  Riley Cooper, and Clay Harbour will also get some catches. Johnson has 4 touchdown catches and a punt return for a touchdown.

Tampa Bay is averaging 360.4 yards per game on offense, including 242.9 passing yards and 117.5 rushing yards. The Buccaneers are outscoring teams 28-24 this season. Tampa Bay is #4 in scoring in the league. The Buccaneers are +11 in turnovers. Tampa Bay has forced 18 sacks and allowed 16. The Buccaneers are 54/147 on third and fourth down conversions. Tampa Bay is giving up 391.8 yards per game on defense, including  309.4 passing yards and 82.3 rushing yards. The Buccs are last in passing defense but first in rushing defense. Tampa Bay has 4 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.

Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman has completed 55.9% of his passes for 3,003 yards with 23 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 30 carries for 99 yards. He has been sacked 17 times this season. Rookie running back Doug Martin has 236 carries, 1,106 yards, and 9 touchdowns, along with 32 catches, 374 yards and a touchdown. LeGarrette Blount will also get a few carries.

Receiver Vincent Jackson has 50 catches, 1,014 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Mike Williams has 43 catches, 718 yards and 6 touchdowns. Tight end Dallas Clark has 34 catches,  341 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tiquan Underwood has 21 catches, 317 yards and 2 touchdowns. Six Buccaneers defensive players are out right now including 4 defensive backs.

The Eagles are 4-0 ATS in December, 4-1 after rushing for more than 150 yards, 8-3-1 in Week 14 games, 2-5 after allowing 30 points or more, 7-18-1 after a straight up loss, 1-3-1 after gaining more than 350 yards, 1-6 after scoring 30 points or more, and overall, 1-7-1 in NFC games, 0-4-1 after allowing 350 yards or more, and 0-5 on grass.

The Buccaneers are 5-0-1 ATS overall, 4-0-1 on grass, 4-0 after allowing 30 points or more, 3-0-1 after a cover, 5-1 after a straight up loss and after rushing for 90 yards or less, 5-2-1 against NFC teams, 9-23-1 at home, 1-4 in December, 3-13 at home against teams with losing road records, and 0-5-1 in Week 14.

Tampa Bay is simply the better team here and should get back on track against an Eagles’ team playing out the string. There are a couple of 7 out there, so if you can find it I like the Buccs at the lower number. Otherwise, you will have to lay 9 points.

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