Date/Time: December 15th, 1:00 PM ET
Spread: San Francisco -5
Week 15 of the NFL season is here! With all of the games on the docket each and every week, we are going to be zeroing in on just one side or total that we think is the best of the bunch. Join us today, look at the game on Sunday, December 15th between the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
We were dead wrong last week about the Carolina Panthers in their quest to take the lead in the NFC South (don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about them… they might come up again next week!) against the New Orleans Saints, but we think we have a really live dog this week in Tampa Bay which could pull an SU upset.
We’ve seen the Bucs do this before. Their wins against the Detroit Lions on the road and the Miami Dolphins at home both look like awfully quality wins at this point, knowing that they are both in a situation where they are in good spots to get into the postseason. Neither might, but both could. Yes, Tampa Bay was smacked around by the Panthers two weeks ago, but they proved that they could get right back on the horse, as they beat up the Buffalo Bills 27-6 last week.
We’d be lying if we said we weren’t concerned about QB Mike Glennon. He had an absolutely awful game last week against Buffalo, going 9-of-25 for 90 yards with two TDs and two picks. However, he got some help from RB Bobby Rainey, who rushed for 127 yards and a TD, and that parlayed with a defense which picked off four passes, held one of the league’s best rushing games to just 67 yards on 22 carries, and forced a total of five turnovers were more than good enough to get a comfortable victory against a bad team.
Here’s what really impresses us about Tampa Bay, though. The team is playing so very well along both the offensive line and the defensive line, and the club is playing tremendously hardnosed football, taking on the personality of Head Coach Greg Schiano.
Last week was the perfect example. Tampa Bay managed 165 yards on the ground on 36 carries, and though 80 of those yards came on one carry (meaning the rest of the game resulted in just 35 carries for an ugly 85 yards), that still showed that the team had a commitment to the running game. Glennon was only sacked once, whereas QB EJ Manuel was sacked seven times by the Bucs by seven different players.
Tampa Bay hasn’t gotten its quarterback sacked more than three times in a game but once since this good run of play started with an overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks on the road which dropped the team to 0-8 on the season.
The other thing that the Buccaneers have been able to do is force their opponents to throw the ball. Yes, the Panthers ran wild against this team, but we still think that San Francisco is a worse team than Carolina is. Plus, the Panthers have proven that they can throw the ball, and they use the threat of the deep pass to open things up for RB DeAngelo Williams and QB Cam Newton to use their legs to gain yards.
If the 49ers have to throw the football, they are in all sorts of trouble. QB Colin Kaepernick has proven absolutely nothing since the point of the first game of the season against the Green Bay Packers when he threw for over 400 yards. In that stretch, he has only put the ball in the air more than 30 times once. That was one of the team’s worst games of the year on the road against the New Orleans Saints. Kaepernick has already had four games this year where he has completed 50 percent of his passes or less, and not shockingly, the team is 1-3 SU and ATS in those games.
On the road this season, Kaepernick has had one game with more than 200 passing yards, and that came against the hapless Washington Redskins just a few weeks ago, long after they had given up on the campaign.
The bottom line though, is that this is a horrid, horrid place for the 49ers to be. They played last week against the Seattle Seahawks in a crucial later afternoon game and poured everything they had into getting the win against one of the best teams in the NFL. Now, they have a shortened week thanks to the travel out to Tampa Bay, and they are playing a game that absolutely can’t have the same weight attached to it. Worse is that there is a Monday Night Football game on tap against the Atlanta Falcons followed by the last game of the year against the Arizona Cardinals in the desert, a game which very well could determine which one of these teams will get into the playoffs.
You’ll have to pardon the 49ers if they seem to be a bit disinterested in this one. Don’t be shocked if they come out slow. We love the Bucs in the first half of this game, so don’t discount the idea of playing them in the first half. However, the bottom line is that we think Tampa Bay is coming up with the ‘W’ in this one in front of the hometown crowd, which is finally starting to believe that the club is going in the right direction.
Week 15 NFL Pick of the Week: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +6
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.