Game Of The Day: Buccaneers at Rams

Bucs QB Jameis Winston is one of the few stars to watch on this week's Thursday Night Football matchup. (Photo credit: Keith Allison via / CC BY-SA)

So it might seem weird that we’re focusing on a matchup between two NFC also-rans as our Game of the Day. But that’s the power of the NFL. They can put a crappy matchup on Thursday Night Football and we’ll all lap it up like thirsty dogs.

Some of us are watching for the fantasy implications, now that leagues are in playoffs. The only other reason to watch this one is because we have money on the game – so let’s try to figure out the smartest NFL betting pick for this one.

Bucs at Rams NFL Betting Odds

St. Louis was a 2.5 point favourite on Thursday afternoon. Pinnacle Sports initially opened the Rams as a 1-point underdog at home, so we know most of the money has been on St. Louis if the line has moved this much this quickly. That said, it doesn’t take as much money to move a team from +1 to -2.5. If they get to -3, which is the biggest of the key numbers in NFL betting, that will really show us who the big money is on in this one. But we doubt it will.

The over/under total opened at 41 and has remained the same all week. That’s a low number, but the Rams are 3-10 over/under this season while the Bucs are 6-7. It’s a lot easier to make an argument for the under in this one.

Bucs at Rams Game Preview

St. Louis is coming off a 21-14 win over Detroit last week that snapped the Rams’ five-game losing streak and improved their home record to 4-3 (compared to 1-5 on the road). Tampa had won 3 of 4 going into last week’s home game against the Saints, but fell 24-17 as 6-point favourites.

At 6-7, the Buccaneers are still alive in the NFC playoff hunt, but not realistically in contention. They’re two games behind in the NFC wild card race and might not be able to put that disappointing loss to New Orleans behind them. Vincent Jackson, one of their top receivers, was lost for the season to a MCL injury as well.

The Rams’ strength (if they have one) is their running game, but they could struggle going up against a Bucs defence that allows 94.1 yards per game on the ground. Tampa’s also got a good running attack (4th in the NFL) that shouldn’t have trouble with the Rams’ 21st-ranked rush defence.

The Buccaneers have the edge at QB with Jameis Winston, but he’s turnover prone and might force some passes or fumble the ball against the Rams’ strong pass rush (second in the NFC with 36 sacks).

Bucs at Rams NFL Betting Pick

This is a tough game to handicap. Matchup-wise, we have to give the edge to Tampa, but we’re worried about the Bucs’ motivation level after last week’s tough loss. The Rams are also a much better team at home than on the road.

It’s not a fun bet to make but the Under makes so much sense here. Each team likes to run the ball a lot, which keeps the clock ticking, and there’s not much to fear from the Rams when it comes to an explosive passing game.

Since the Under is such a low number, we’ll use a 6-point NFL teaser to move the total up to 47 and move the Bucs up to 8.5 point underdogs. The Rams might win this game, but we don’t see it happening by more than a touchdown.

6-Point Teaser: Tampa Bay +8.5, Under 47 (This bet pays -110 at Pinnacle Sports, which is one of the best sportsbooks to use for NFL teasers).