NFL Against The Spread Picks: St. Louis Rams At Tampa Bay Buccaneers

St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, December 23, 2012, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa Bay, Florida
Opening Line: Tampa Bay -3
Current Line: Tampa Bay -3
Opening Total: 43 1/2
Current Total: 44
Opening Money Line: Buccaneers -160 / Rams +140
Current Money Line: Buccaneers -160 / Rams +140

The Tampa bay Buccaneers are 3 point home favorites against the St. Louis Rams Sunday.

The 6-7-1 St. Louis Rams are barely alive for the playoffs, but have to win out and get tons of help from 5 other teams in the NFC, all with 8-6 records. First up for the Rams is a trip to Tampa Bay to take on the 6-8 Buccaneers who were eliminated from the playoffs last week. Tampa Bay has beaten St. Louis 5 of the last 6 times they have played including 18-17 in Tampa in 2010. The Buccaneers have won 5 straight home games against the Rams.

St. Louis is coached by Jeff Fisher. The Rams had won 3 games in a row to get back into the playoff race. St louis hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004. However, they suffered a crippling loss last week at home 36-22 to the Minnesota Vikings. The Rams are 9-5 ATS and the total is 8-6 this season.

Tampa Bay is coached by Greg Schiano. The Sunday before Thanksgiving Tampa Bay had won 4 straight games to improve to 6-4 and looked like they had a good chance of making the playoffs. However, since then the wheels have fallen off the Buccaneer bandwagon with 4 straight losses. The low point came last week at the New Orleans Saints when Tampa Bay was humiliated 41-0. The Buccaneers are 9-4-1 ATS and the total is 9-5 this season.

The Rams average 332 yards per game including 221.6 passing yards and 110.7 rushing yards. St. Louis is being outscored 23-18 this year. The Rams are -3 in turnovers. St. Louis has forced 41 sacks and allowed 35 this season. The Rams are 73/199 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, the Rams are giving up 335.1 yards per game, including 217.4 passing yards and 117.6 rushing yards. The rams are #9 in total defense and against the pass.  St. Louis has 4 defensive touchdowns this season.

Quarterback Sam Bradford has completed 60.2% of his passes for 3,254 yards with 18 touchd0wns and 11 interceptions, along with 34 carries for 122 yards with a touchdown. He has been sacked 35 times this season. Running back Steven Jackson has 227 carries, 909 yards with 3 touchdowns, along with 30 catches for 280 yards. Jackson is probable with an illness.  Daryl Richardson has 91 carries for 466 yards, along with 22 catches for 149 yards.

Receiver Danny Amendola has 57 catches, 634 yards and 3 touchdowns.Brandon Gibson has 46 catches, 613 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Chris Givens has 37 catches, 606 yards, and 3 touchdowns.  Tight end Lance Kendricks has 35 catches, 367 yards and 3 touchdowns. Austin Pettis has 26 catches, 232 yards and 2 touchdowns. Seven Rams’ defensive players are listed as questionable or out Sunday along with 3 defensive backs.

Tampa Bay is averaging 358.9 yards per game on offense, including 243.7 passing yards and 115.2 rushing yards. The Buccaneers are outscoring teams 25.3-24.9 this season. Tampa Bay is 15th or better in all offensive categories. The Buccaneers are +7 in turnovers. Tampa Bay has forced 25 sacks and allowed 20. The Buccaneers are 65/179 on third and fourth down conversions. Tampa Bay is giving up 393.9 yards per game on defense, including  310.6 passing yards and 83.3 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 54.8% of his passes for 3,471 yards with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, along with 34 carries for 120 yards. He has been sacked 21 times this season. Rookie running back Doug Martin has 273 carries, 1,250 yards, and 10 touchdowns, along with 38 catches, 397 yards and a touchdown. LeGarrette Blount will also get a few carries. He has two touchdown runs.

Receiver Vincent Jackson has 62 catches, 1,226 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Mike Williams has 50 catches, 799 yards and 7 touchdowns. He is probable with a wrist injury.  Tight end Dallas Clark has 43 catches,  402 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tiquan Underwood has 25 catches, 380 yards and 2 touchdowns. Eleven Buccaneers defensive players are on the injury list right now including 4 defensive backs.

St. Louis is 4-0 ATS in road games, 9-1 after accumulating more than 350 total yards, 4-1 after failing to cover, and after rushing for 90 yards, 8-3 against NFC teams, 5-2 after a straight up loss, 9-4 in road games against teams with losing home records, and after allowing more than 30 points, 19-43-2 after allowing less than 150 passing yards, and 0-6 after passing for more than 250 yards. The underdog is 5-1-1 ATS in this series recently. Four of the last five games went under in the series.

Tampa Bay is 5-1 ATS after accumulating more than 250 passing yards, and after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 4-1 after allowing more than 30 points, 4-1-1 on grass, 8-3-1 after a straight up loss of 14 points or more, 5-2 after rushing for less than 90 yards, 5-2-1 overall, 3-7 in week 16, 8-20-2 after allowing 350 yards or more, 9-24-1 at home, 5-15-1 in December, and 3-14 at home against teams with losing road records. The Buccaneers are 5-1-1 ATS in the last 7 against the Rams.

Even though the rams struggle on offense at times, I look for this to be a shootout. The Rams can’t stop the run and the Buccaneers are a good rushing team. The Tampa pass defense is terrible though and I can see Sam Bradford carving them up like other teams have done. The Buccs win a close game to eliminate the Rams.

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