NFL Week 15 Betting Picks: San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, December 15, 2013, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: San Francisco -5
Current Line: San Francisco -5
Opening Total: 42
Current Total: 41
Opening Money Line: 49ers -230 / Buccaneers +190
Current Money Line: 49ers -230 / Buccaneers +190

San Francisco is a 5 point favorite at Tampa Bay Sunday in a must win game for the 49ers.
San Francisco is a 5 point favorite at Tampa Bay Sunday in a must win game for the 49ers.

The 9-4 San Francisco 49ers are tied with the Carolina Panthers for the two wild card spots in the NFC playoffs. Carolina holds the tie breaker by virtue of beating the 49ers earlier in the season. The 49ers would still be the #6 seed and currently would face NFC East leader the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs. The 49ers are 2 games behind the 11-2 Seattle Seahawks for the NFC West lead.

San Francisco travels across the country to face the 4-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday. After an 0-8 start, Tampa Bay has show signs of life recently winning four of their last five games. Since 2001, San Francisco leads the series against Tampa Bay 4-3. The 49ers have won 3 of the last 4 meetings, including 48-3 in 2011. The last four games in the series were played in San Francisco. The 49ers haven’t played in Tampa Bay since 2004.

San Francisco is coached by Jim Harbaugh. The 49ers have losses at the Seattle Seahawks 29-3 and New Orleans Saints 23-20 and at home against the Indianapolis Colts 27-7 and Carolina Panthers 10-9 . San Francisco has home wins over the Green Bay Packers 34-28, Houston Texans 34-3, Arizona Cardinals 32-20, St. Louis Rams 23-13 and last week against Seattle 19-17, along with road wins at the Rams 35-11 , Tennessee Titans 31-17, and Washington Redskins 27-6,  plus a 42-10 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. The 49ers are 9-4 ATS and the total is 5-8 this season. San Francisco was a 2.5 point favorite against Seattle and the total was 41.

Seattle could have clinched the NFC West title and a first round bye last week against San Francisco. The 49ers kicked two first quarter field goals to take a 6-0 lead. In the second quarter, the Seahawks would take a 14-9 lead with 3:47 left in the half. San Francisco drove down the field and scored a touchdown with 6 seconds left to take a 16-14 lead into halftime. Neither team scored in the third quarter, but the 49ers did throw an interception in the red zone. The Seahawks kicked the go ahead field goal with 6:20 left in the fourth to make it 17-16. San Francisco would keep the ball for almost the rest of the game and kicked a 22 yard field goal to take a 19-17 lead with 26 seconds left. Seattle would have one more chance to get into field goal range with no timeouts from their own 16. That drive ended with a deep interception from quarterback Russell Wilson at the 49er 20 yard line. San Francisco took a knee to secure the much needed win, and keep their slim division title hopes alive. The 49ers had 318 total yards including 163 rushing yards. The Seahawks had 264 total yards including 178 rushing yards.  Each team had one turnover and the teams combined for 16 penalties for 155 yards.

San Francisco is outscoring teams 24-17 this season. The 49ers are #13 in scoring and #3 in points allowed. San Francisco is averaging 311.5 yards per game including 178.3 passing and 133.2 rushing yards. The 49ers are #6 in rushing but are last in passing, and #28 in total offense. On defense, San Francisco is allowing 310.2 total yards including 206.2 passing and 104 rushing yards. The 49ers are #4 in both total and pass defense, and #10 against the rush. San Francisco is +5 in turnovers. San Francisco is 71/184 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 69/199. The 49ers have forced 32 sacks and allowed 32 this season. San Francisco has 4 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season. The 49ers average 55 penalty yards per game and opponents average 60.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has completed 57.2% of his passes for 2,487 yards with 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 78 carries, 407 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has been sacked 32 times this season. Running back Frank Gore has 220 carries for 931 yards with 8 touchdowns, along with 15 catches for 135 yards. Kendall Hunter has 65 carries for 254 yards with 3 touchdowns, along with 2 catches. Anthony Dixon has only 61 rushing yards, but does have two rushing touchdowns this season.

Receiver Anquan Boldin has 67 catches for 915 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tight end Vernon Davis has 44 catches for 726 yards and 11 touchdowns. Bruce Miller and Kyle Williams will also get some catches.The 49ers have been successful this season despite injuries to key members of the receiving corps. Mario Manningham returned a few weeks ago after tearing his ACL last season. He only has 8 catches so far in 3 games, and is listed as probable with a knee injury. Michael Crabtree has played the last two games after tearing his Achilles’ tendon in the off season. He has six catches for 108 yards. Quinton Patton is questionable with a foot injury. Tight end Garrett Celek is questionable with a hamstring injury. Three defensive players and two offensive linemen are listed as questionable or out Sunday.

Tampa Bay is coached by Greg Schiano. The Buccaneers have road losses at the New York Jets 18-17, New England Patriots 23-3, Atlanta Falcons 31-23, Seattle Seahawks 27-24 in overtime and Carolina 27-6 along with home losses to the Saints 16-14, Arizona Cardinals 13-10, Philadelphia Eagles 31-20 and Panthers 31-13. Tampa Bay has home wins over the Miami Dolphins 22-19, Atlanta Falcons 41-28 and last week against the Buffalo Bills 27-6, along with a road win at the Detroit Lions 24-21. Tampa Bay is 6-7 ATS and the total is 6-7 this season. The Buccaneers were 3 point favorites against the Bills last week and the total was 42.5.

Last week, in the 8 early NFL games, Tampa Bay was the only game in which it wasn’t snowing. The Buccaneers took an early 14-3 lead against the Bills. Tampa Bay would expand the lead to 24-3 by halftime. Each team kicked a field goal in the third quarter to make it 27-6. Neither team would score again. Buffalo had 214 total yards including 147 passing yards. Tampa Bay had 246 total yards including 165 rushing yards. The two teams combined for 19 penalties for 190 yards. The Bills had five turnovers and the Buccaneers had two.

Tampa Bay is being outscored 22-19 this season. The Buccaneers are #30 in scoring and #12 in points allowed in the NFL. Tampa Bay is averaging 291.5 yards per game including 180.8 passing and 110.7 rushing yards. The Buccaneers are #31 in total offense and in passing. On defense, Tampa Bay is allowing 342.1 yards per game including 238.4 passing and 103.7 rushing yards. The Buccs are #13 in total defense and #9 against the rush. The Buccs are +13 in turnovers. Tampa Bay is 67/199 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 67/172. The Buccaneers have forced 31 sacks and allowed 34 this season. Tampa Bay has three defensive touchdown and has allowed one. The Buccaneers are averaging 77 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 59.

Tampa Bay released quarterback Josh Freeman after three games, and he is now with the Minnesota Vikings. Rookie Mike Glennon has started ever since then. Glennon has completed 60.6% of his passes for 2,052 yards with 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 34 rushing yards. He has been sacked 27 times this season.

Running back Doug Martin is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Martin rushed for 456 yards and a touchdown, along with 12 catches. Mike James has 60 carries for 295 yards along with 10 catches, and a touchdown catch. He also threw a touchdown pass but he out for the season as well with a knee injury. Bobby Rainey has 95 carries, 433 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 8 catches for 19 yards and a touchdown. Brian Leonard has 41 carries for 135 yards, along with 25 catches  for 174 yards.

Receiver Vincent Jackson has 64 catches, 1,033 yards and 6 touchdowns. Timothy Wright has 38 catches, 403 yards and 3 touchdowns. Mike Williams is out for the season with a hamstring injury. Williams had 22 catches, 216 yards and 2 touchdowns. Leonard has 16 catches for 124 yards. Tiquan Underwood has 16 catches for 325 yards and 3 touchdowns. Kickers Connor Barth (Achilles’ tendon) and Lawrence Tynes (staph infection) are both out for the season. Rian Lindell is the kicker for the Buccs. Five defensive players and three tight ends  are on the injury report for Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

San Francisco is 5-0 ATS in road games, 4-0 against teams with winning records, 5-1 after rushing for 150 yards or more, 21-7 after failing to cover, 6-2 in week 15, 25-9-1 on grass, 8-3 against NFC teams, 5-2 after a straight up win, and 34-16-1 overall. The under is 6-2 in the last 8 games in this series.

Tampa Bay is 4-0 ATS after allowing 150 passing yards or less, 5-1-1 after a straight up win, 5-1 overall and after a straight up win by 14 or more points, 9-2-2 after rushing for 150 yards or more, 4-1 after allowing 250 total yards or less, 6-2-1 against teams with winning records, 8-3 after passing for less than 150 yards, 13-28-1 at home, 3-8 in December, 1-4-1 against teams with winning road records, 1-4 after allowing 90 rushing yards or less, and after allowing less than 15 points. The home team has covered 7 of the last 8 in this series.

This has trap game written all over it as the 49ers are coming off an emotional home win over the Seahawks last week. Add in the fact that west coast teams usually don’t fare too well in early kickoffs on the east coast, and it will be a difficult game for the 49ers. However, if the 49ers are true Super bowl contenders, and I believe they are, then they won’t fall into that trap. This should be a low scoring game, and I like the 49ers to win on a late field goal.

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