Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Date and Time: Sunday, December 18, 2016, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Week 15 NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu: Cowboys -7, 47
Buccaneers vs. Cowboys TV Coverage: NBC
Losers of two straight and sitting two games under .500 heading into their Week 9 home tilt against the Chicago Bears, the Buccaneers season looked to be lost. Dirk Koetter’s squad went out and buried Chicago that day 36-10 as 2.5 point underdogs, and they haven’t lost a game since taking down Kansas City at Arrowhead, Seattle, San Diego and New Orleans. In doing so, the Bucs now sit tied with Atlanta atop the division with the Falcons holding the tiebreaker.
The team’s dramatic turnaround has everything to do with Mike Smith’s young defense finally coming into its own. Over the course of its five game win streak, the unit has allowed an average of just under 100 rushing yards per game. A figure nearly 12 yards per game less than its seasonal average. That aspect of the defense is going to have to rise to the occasion even more against the Cowboys vaunted rushing attack.
All good things must come to an end. Dallas wasn’t going to win its next 15 games after dropping its season opener at home to the Giants. While getting swept by New York certainly stings, there’s still plenty of work to be done and it starts with bouncing back and winning their sixth straight at home. The Cowboys have won their previous five home games by an average of 9.8 points per game.
With Dak Prescott off his worst showing as the Cowboys QB1, there’s actually people out there questioning if Tony Romo should be reinserted under center. That’s possibly the worst thing the coaching staff or upper management, cough – Jerry Jones – cough, could do at this point of the season. The last thing this team needs is a divided locker room. There’s already enough primadonnas on this team already, don’t add fuel to the fire!
267.8 – The Cowboys are conceding nearly 268 passing yards per game good for the league’s No. 28 ranking. Against the run however, Rod Marinelli’s defense ranks No. 2 in allowing just over 83 yards per game at 4.0 yards per carry; a figure that drops to 3.3 over the last three weeks.
Doug Martin and whomever else the Bucs call upon to tote the rock is going to have major issues. So, this is going to have to be a game Jameis Winston steps up in after throwing for less than 200 yards and no touchdowns against the Saints porous secondary last week.
Buccaneers vs. Cowboys Free Picks
I’m expecting both defenses to reign supreme early, but for the offenses, especially the Cowboys, to catch fire as the game progresses. Tampa Bay has done a hell of a job on the defensive side of the ball of late, but it’s about to run into a locomotive with eyes of burying it on the ground. Ezekiel Elliott has failed to surpass the 100-yard plateau in each of his last three home games, but with the Bucs allowing 4.6 yards per carry over the last three weeks, I’d entertain the thought of betting over his total rushing yards on the prop odds at Bookmaker.eu in Week 15.
Winston is going to be forced to throw the ball a ton in this matchup. His prop yards over as well as any prop involving Mike Evans over receiving and touchdowns should also be considered. But when it’s said and done, I expect Dallas’s offensive line to dictate the final outcome with Elliot having a big day en route to leading the Cowboys to a win of margin. The young Bucs just aren’t ready to win or cover a game like this in prime-time.
Buccaneers vs. Cowboys ATS Pick: Cowboys -7 at BookMaker.eu
Buccaneers vs. Cowboys Score Prediction: Cowboys 34 – Buccaneers 20