NFL Thursday Night Football Betting Picks: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at St. Louis Rams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at St. Louis Rams
Edward Jones Dome – St. Louis, Missouri
Thursday, December 17, 2015, 8:25 pm Eastern, TV: NFL Network
Opening Line: Tampa Bay -1
Current Line: St. Louis -2 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 42 (under -119)
Current Total: 41
Opening Money Line: Buccaneers -115 / Rams -105
Current Money Line: Rams -135 / Buccaneers +115

The Rams are 2.5 point favorites against the Buccaneers Thursday.
The Rams are 2.5 point favorites against the Buccaneers Thursday.

The 6-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to the 5-8 St. Louis Rams for a Thursday night contest that should be sponsored by Heinz. The Buccaneers will wear all-red uniforms that resemble ketchup and the Rams will wear yellow mustard inspired uniforms.

Anyway back to the game. The Buccaneers are tied for second with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South but both teams are way behind the 13-0 Carolina Panthers. Tampa Bay is also two games behind the 8-5 Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks for the two wild card spots in the NFC. St. Louis is in third place in the NFC West behind the 11-2 Arizona Cardinals and Seahawks.

St. Louis leads the series 14-8 against Tampa Bay. The Rams have won three straight games in the series and the teams are meeting for the fourth straight season. St. Louis won 19-17 last year in Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay is coached by Lovie Smith. The Buccaneers have home wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars 38-31, Dallas Cowboys 10-6, and Falcons 23-19, along with road wins over the New Orleans Saints 26-19, Falcons 23-20 in overtime and Philadelphia Eagles 45-17. Tampa Bay has home losses to the Tennessee Titans 42-14, Panthers 37-23, New York Giants 32-18, and Saints last week 24-17. The Buccaneers have road losses at the Houston Texans 19-9, Washington Redskins 31-30, and Indianapolis Colts 25-12.

The Buccaneers were 6 point favorites against the Saints and the total was 52. New Orleans had lost four straight games going into the contest. However, the Saints took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. New Orleans would lead 17-10 at halftime.  The teams traded touchdowns in the second half. The Buccaneers pulled to within 24-17 with just under 9 minutes left. Tampa Bay would have only one more possession and didn’t get past their own 44. The Saints had 388 total yards to 291 for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay is 7-6 ATS and the total is 6-7 this season.

St. Louis is coached by Jeff Fisher. The Rams have home wins over the Seahawks 34-31 in overtime, Cleveland Browns 24-6, San Francisco 49ers 27-6, and Detroit Lions 21-14 last week, along with a road win at the Cardinals 24-22. The win over the Lions snapped a five game losing streak for the Rams. St. Louis has home losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers 12-6, Chicago Bears 37-13, and Cardinals 27-3, along with road losses at the Washington Redskins 24-10, Green Bay Packers 24-10, Vikings 21-18 in overtime, Baltimore Ravens 16-13, and Cincinnati Bengals 31-7.

The Rams were 3 point underdogs against the Lions and the total was 41.5. St. Louis took a 7-0 lead into halftime on a 58 yard pick six. The teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter. The Rams would take a 21-7 early in the fourth. Detroit pulled to within 21-14 with 2:05 left. After St. Louis muffed the onside kick, Detroit recovered. However, the Lions were unable to advance past the Rams’ 46. St. Louis ran out the clock to secure the win. The Rams are 5-7-1 ATS this season and the total is 3-10.

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Tampa Bay is being outscored 25-22 this season. The Buccaneers are #22 in points allowed. Tampa Bay is averaging 364 total yards per game on offense including 223 passing and 141 rushing. The Buccaneers are #4 in rushing but #26 in passing. Tampa Bay allows 341 total yards per game on defense, including 247 passing and 94 rushing yards. The Buccaneers are #8 in rush defense. Tampa Bay is 77/178 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 86/182. The Buccaneers have forced 31 sacks and allowed 24 this season. Tampa Bay is +1 in turnovers. The Buccs have three defensive touchdowns and have allowed four this season.

Quarterback Jameis Winston will likely win the rookie of the year. He has completed 58.4% of his passes for 3,059 yards with 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, along with 45 carries for 184 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. Winston has taken every snap this season, but Mike Glennon is the back-up.

Running back Doug Martin has 238 carries for 1,214 yards with 5 touchdowns, along with 24 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown. Charles Sims has 92 carries for 419 yards, along with 36 catches for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Receiver Mike Evans has 57 catches for 889 yards and 3 touchdowns. Vincent Jackson has 33 catches for 543 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Tight end Cameron Brate has 18 catches for 212 yards and 3 touchdowns. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins has 13 catches for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns. Adam Humphries and Brandon Myers will also get some catches. Receivers Louis Murphy and Kenny Bell are both on injured reserve. Ten defensive players are listed on the injury report.

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St. Louis is being outscored 21-16 this season. The Rams are #31 in scoring. St. Louis averages 298 yards per game on offense, including 173 passing and 125 rushing. The Rams are #6 in rushing, but #31 or worse in total and passing offense. On defense, St. Louis allows 354 total yards including 238 passing and 116 rushing. The Rams are #22 in rush defense. St. Louis is 46/178 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 62/192. The Rams have forced 36 sacks and allowed 16 this season. The Rams are -1 in turnovers. St. Louis has 3 special teams/defensive touchdowns and has allowed four this season.

Quarterback Nick Foles was benched in favor of Case Keenum. Keenum missed two games with a concussion, but returned last week against the Lions. Foles has thrown for 2,052 yards with 7 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, along with 20 rushing yards and a touchdown. Keenum has thrown for 260 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Keenum will start. Sean Mannion has also taken a few snaps.

Running back Todd Gurley is also a rookie of the year contender despite missing the first two games of the season after recovering from a torn ACL suffered last year in college at Georgia. Gurley has 189 carries for 975 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 18 catches for 150 yards. He is probable with a knee injury. Tre Mason has 51 catches for 147 yards, along with 17 catches for 85 yards. Benjamin Cunningham has 30 carries for 94 yards, along with 20 catches for 202 yards.

Receiver Kenny Britt has 28 catches for 480 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a shoulder injury. Tight end Jared Cook has 34 catches for 412 yards. Tavon Austin has 41 catches for 386 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 39 carries for 358 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also has a punt return for a touchdown. Stedman Bailey has 12 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown. He is out for the season with a concussion. Lance Kendricks has 17 catches for 181 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bradley Marquez and Wes Welker will also get some catches. Six defensive players and five offensive linemen are on the injury report.

Tampa Bay is 4-0 ATS after a straight up loss, 9-1 after an ATS loss, 5-1 after allowing more than 350 total yards, 4-1 against teams with losing records, and after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, 5-2 in road games and against NFC teams, 6-14 in December, 0-4 on turf, 1-4 in Thursday games, in week 15, and against teams with losing home records. The underdog is 7-2-1 ATS in this series recently. The last five games in the series have gone under the total.

St. Louis is 3-1-1 ATS against teams with losing records, 5-2 against teams with losing road records, 18-37 after passing for less than 150 yards, 3-10-1 in week 15, 1-4 after a straight up win, after a cover, and in December, 1-4-1 overall and 1-5 in Thursday games. The Rams have covered the last four games against the Buccaneers.

These two teams struggle on offense, but have good defenses. This should be a low scoring game. I think the Buccaneers are slightly better, and should win a close game.

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