coleryan Posts:13653 Followers:19
On 11/18/2013 04:38 PM in NFL

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions: Preview and Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions: Preview and Pick

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a rough season, but they are actually playing better football to include a big win over the Atlanta Falcons in their last outing. The Detroit Lions are playing inconsistent football and they will need to play better if they hope to hold off the Packers and the Bears for the NFC North divisional title.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game has the Lions listed as (-9.5) point favorites. This line could increase, but the inspired play of the Buccaneers of late has kept the betting action even up to this point. The early wagering reveals that just a measly 56 percent of the betting public is on the Lions in this contest. Check out the latest point spread for this game leading up to kickoff at your favorite top rated online sportsbook.

Detroit lost a very difficult game to the Steelers when they should have won. While a lot of attention will be focused on Detroit’s defensive meltdown in the fourth quarter, one of the reasons it happened might be because of who wasn’t in the game. By then, safety Glover Quin had been sidelined with an ankle injury, and if you questioned his value before, you won’t now. Quin might be one of the three most important players on Detroit’s defense, along with DeAndre Levy and Ndamukong Suh.

He helps set the defensive backfield and is a good balance to Louis Delmas. Quin didn’t have his best game Sunday, but he has experience and chemistry with Delmas and the corners. That can’t be overlooked. Now the Lions will need him back in the lineup if they hope to slow down the upstart Buccaneers.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveal that both teams have negative trends, leading up to this game. Tampa Bay is 2-5 against the spread (ATS) in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Detroit. Tampa Bay is 4-1 straight up in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Detroit, but 1-8 ATS in its last 9 games when playing Detroit. Tampa Bay is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games on the road and the total has gone under in 4 of Tampa Bay's last 6 games on the road. Detroit is 3-6 straight up in its last 9 games at home and6-11-1 straight up in its last 18 games overall.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13653 Followers:19
11/19/2013 01:46 PM

What if Lavonte David had pulled up?

What if, during those frenzied final moments of the Jets' game, David had just escorted Geno Smith out of bounds? After all, David is a terrific player. What if he recognized that a quarterback going out of bounds was a hands-off play, and because if it, the Bucs hold off the Jets?

Would the Bucs be 3-7 today instead of 2-8?

What if Greg Schiano had trusted Josh Freeman?

What if things hadn't become so strained that Schiano turned Freeman into a bystander during the Saints game? What if he had let Freeman throw the ball on third-and-6 near the end of the game? Or, another way to put it, what if he had grown so fed up with Freeman that he sent him to the skybox a couple of weeks earlier? What if the Bucs protected their late lead against the Saints?

Would the Bucs be 4-6 today?

What if Mike Glennon had done a better job of protecting the ball against Arizona?

What if that wasn't Glennon's first start? What if, by then, Glennon was as accurate as he has been lately (one interception in his last 184 passes)? What if he protected the ball, and the lead, instead of throwing two interceptions on the team's final three possessions?

Would the Bucs be 5-5 today?

What if they had closed the door, just one more time, against Seattle? What if the MRSA scandal had never happened?

What if?

Here, in these giddy days of two in a row, this is what back-to-back wins have earned for the Bucs. Just like that, you are able to look differently at that horrible first half of the season.

That's how it works. When a team is losing, everything is miserable, and all you can see is ugly. But when a team is winning, you can also look back and see the games that got away.

These days, it is possible to wonder what would have happened to the psyche of this team if it had gotten off to a better start. If they beat the Jets, which they should have, or the Saints, which they could have, or the Cardinals, which they might have, how would that have affected them in other games?

Oh, you can drive yourself, it's crazy playing this game. All bad teams do it, and usually, it offers up a lot more frustration that it does consolation. Spin things hard enough, and everyone knows you can turn the 0-16 Lions of 2008 into a wild-card contender. Beauty contestants are fashioned from such makeup.

Let's be honest: the NFL is a league of close games, and bad teams often try to make them look better than the final result. Consider this: Texas is also 2-8, but they've lost four games by a total of 10 points. Minnesota is 2-8, but they've lost three by a total of nine points. So what? The world is filled with teams on their way to nowhere trying to imagine where they would be if they had won this close game or that one. In the NFL, no one gets a mulligan.

Let's be honest. This Bucs team was never going to challenge for the championship. But could it have been a .500 team? Well, maybe.

That's how much the feel of a season has changed around here. A couple of weeks ago, at 0-8, this was the NFL's wasteland. There were skulls and vultures and wavy stink lines. Soon, everyone was going to get fired.

Then came a win against Miami, a bad team, and Atlanta, a bad team, and suddenly, everyone is smiling and everyone else. There isn't a two-win team in the league where the locker room feels better. It's like talking to a guy who is a little sickly, and he says, "Yeah, but two weeks ago, I was dead.''

These days, Greg Schiano looks less like a bully and more like a guy who convinced his team to stay with the season. These days, Glennon looks less like a wobbly replacement and more like a kid who improves by the week. Two wins, and the viewpoint changes.

Will it last? Who knows? Detroit will be a handful on Sunday; Calvin Johnson can get to places vertically that the Bucs can't cover. The 49ers are ahead. The Panthers are ahead. The Saints are ahead.

That's the NFL, too. If this team hits another dip, then this two game streak will be quickly forgotten, and the bad headlines will return, and just like that, Schiano's office will be getting measured for the next coach's furniture.

For now, however, things feel as good around the Bucs as they have for a while.

They've only won two.

But it's been in a row. Yippee.

And that's the thing. When you have been living underground, even a small hill feels like a mountain.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13653 Followers:19
11/20/2013 08:15 PM

Reggie Bush is a pivotal player for the Detroit Lions.

The speedy running back has scored four times, run for at least 78 yards and averaged almost five receptions in Detroit’s five wins. He is scoreless in four losses while being held to 50 or fewer yards and an average of three catches. Bush missed one game, a win at Washington, with a banged-up left knee.

“He is the catalyst for their offence, and for their whole team,” Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said Wednesday.

The Lions (6-4) are hoping Bush bounces back Sunday at home (1 p.m., Fox) against the Buccaneers (2-8) after perhaps his worst game this year.

“He’s definitely a key and we need to get him back on track,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said.

Schwartz replaced Bush with Joique Bell and rookie Theo Riddick in last Sunday’s setback at Pittsburgh. Bush lost a fumble for the second time in three games, ran for just 31 yards on 12 attempts and made a season-low two catches.

“When you turn the ball over and put your team in a bad situation, you might get benched,” said Bush, who guaranteed he will not fumble again this season. “I’ve been in this league long enough to know that can happen.”

The Lions signed the seven-year veteran in March to a $16 million, four-year deal, and he has hit more than missed as the impact player they were banking on him being right away. He has accounted for more than 1,000 yards of offence and his average of 113.3 yards from scrimmage a game trails just three running backs: LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte.

Bush was spectacular in his Lions debut with 191 yards of offence and a score in a win over Minnesota. He has run for 100-plus yards twice, both times in victories against the Chicago Bears.

When Detroit wins, Bush is averaging 5.5 yards per carry. When it loses, Bush is averaging almost half as much on the ground each time he’s handed the ball, and teams are limiting the effect he has on the passing game.

“Everybody makes our engine go, so to speak, but he’s definitely an important player for us,” Schwartz acknowledged. “He can free Calvin (Johnson) up and Calvin can free him up. When we’ve played our best offensively, that’s been going. Plus, we have gotten contributions out of a lot of other guys.”

Schwartz chose to go with other guys in the backfield against the Steelers after Bush struggled on soggy surface.

“Reggie in horse racing wouldn’t be called a mudder,” Schwartz explained. “He’s an explosively quick guy. He’s better on a fast track.”

Bush disagreed, saying he prides himself on being able to run in all conditions. And, Bush believes running backs have an advantage over off-balance defenders in mud.

His poor performance, coupled with Schwartz doubting how suited he is for running in certain situations, seems to have given Bush an added incentive against Tampa Bay.

“I’m extremely motivated,” Bush said. “I would’ve played the game (Tuesday) if they would’ve let me. Anytime you have a game like I had, the fumble, and not playing as well, the (next) game can’t come fast enough.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13653 Followers:19
11/20/2013 08:16 PM

Pressed on whether a statement declaring future success qualifies as a guarantee, many athletes back off. Nobody wants to look bad when they promise something and eventually fail to deliver.

Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush did the opposite Wednesday. He began by describing what went wrong that caused his fumble in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“Just not thinking enough, not protecting the ball, not being aware enough of my surroundings, protecting the ball,” Bush said. “The last game, when I fumbled, I was actually protecting it as I was going down. I just didn’t squeeze it tight enough, and that just comes with me mentally constantly reminding myself all week throughout practice of just making sure I’m high and tight going through the hole, or whether it’s after practice and I’m doing a couple extra drills, just little things like that.

“Those are the things that’ll help me make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Bush added. “And it won’t happen again.

Several minutes later, a reporter asked if Bush had just slid in a guarantee that he would not fumble again in 2013.

“Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah,” Bush said, laughing for a moment before affirming one more time. “Yes.”

The running back, as expected, is eager to get back on the field for a game to erase this most recent one.

“I’m extremely motivated,” Bush said. “I would’ve played the game yesterday if they had let me. Any time you have a game like I had, the fumble and not playing as well, the game can’t come fast enough.”

He anticipates the Tampa Bay defense to be just as vicious in trying to rip away the football as any other, especially because he let the ball get away Sunday.

“Oh yeah, definitely – and they should,” Bush said. “It’s part of the job. It’s part of the job description is to create turnovers on defense. I know they’re going to be gunning for the ball and they’re going to be doing everything they can to strip the ball away. It’s what they do everything. It’s on me to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13653 Followers:19
11/21/2013 10:33 AM

A week ago, circumstances seemed perfect for the Detroit Lions to possibly run away with a division title. But a second-half letdown saw their advantage all but disappear.

Detroit will try to bounce back at home on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have won two in a row.

The Lions (6-4) held a one-game edge for first place in the NFC North entering last week, a lead that appeared even larger considering the injuries to Chicago and Green Bay's starting quarterbacks, not to mention the club's favorable remaining schedule.

But a controversial decision by coach Jim Schwartz proved costly in a 37-27 loss at Pittsburgh.

With a 27-23 advantage early in the fourth quarter, he elected to fake what would have been a 27-yard-field goal. Holder Sam Martin was stopped short and fumbled the ball, setting up a go-ahead touchdown drive for the Steelers. Matthew Stafford was intercepted on the next possession, and Pittsburgh put the game out of reach with another touchdown.

Meanwhile, the Bears knocked off Baltimore to pull even with the Lions, though Detroit owns the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series.

"If we were successful in that situation, and we go up 11 right there, I know what you guys would write," Schwartz said. "You guys would write: 'It's a different attitude, Lions are going for the win, they're not trying to just be settling for field goals.'"

The bigger concern moving forward may be the Lions' offense after an anemic second-half showing. Detroit racked up 379 yards in the first half, scoring all 27 of its points in the second quarter. Matthew Stafford threw for 327 yards before halftime, with Calvin Johnson accounting for 179 on six receptions.

The Lions were held to just 72 yards in the second half while none of Stafford's three attempts to hook up with Johnson connected.

"We just didn't execute," said Stafford, who was 3 for 16 for 35 yards in the final two quarters. "They came out in the second half and played a little bit more two-man. For one reason or another we didn't connect."

Diverting opposing defenses' attention away from Johnson remains an issue, particularly once adjustments have been made. He's averaging 49.3 yards in the second half of games compared to 70.9 in the first half.

The potential return of Nate Burleson - who has been out since Week 3 with a broken forearm suffered in a car accident - could help open things up. Burleson was upgraded to doubtful for last Sunday's game and has practiced for the last two weeks.

That could be particularly important with Johnson likely to be shadowed by Darrelle Revis, who has anchored a stingier Tampa Bay pass defense of late. The Buccaneers have limited opposing passers to a combined 81.4 rating over their last three games, recording five interceptions after tallying six in the previous seven games.

Revis defended two passes intended for Johnson while holding him to one reception for 13 yards in a 23-20 victory for the New York Jets over Detroit on Nov. 7, 2010 - the players' only previous matchup.

The Buccaneers (2-8) will be looking for a third straight win behind a resurgent rushing attack. They've run for at least 140 yards in three straight games for the first time since 2005.

Claimed off waivers on Oct. 21 following Doug Martin's season-ending shoulder injury, Bobby Rainey was thrust into action after Mike James suffered a broken ankle in the team's Nov. 11 win over Miami. After running for 45 yards and a score on eight carries against the Dolphins, the former undrafted free agent went for 163 yards and three TDs in Sunday's 41-28 win over Atlanta.

"He's got a good feel, and when I say that it's just he's a football player," coach Greg Schiano said.

The 5-foot-8, 212-pounder could be in for a stiffer challenge against a Detroit defense that ranks fifth against the run allowing 94.6 yards per game.

Johnson has 19 catches for 306 yards and three TDs in his last three games versus Tampa Bay, including a 27-20 road win on Sept. 11, 2011. Stafford was 24 of 33 for 305 yards, three scores and an interception.

The Lions lead the series 29-25, though Tampa Bay has won four of five in Detroit.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13653 Followers:19
11/22/2013 01:47 PM

An 0-8 start pretty much doomed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but that hasn't stopped the club from showing a lot of spirit during a two-game winning streak.

The Bucs and surprise running back Bobby Rainey look to deal the Detroit Lions' NFC North title hopes a blow as the two clubs clash this Sunday at Ford Field.

Tampa Bay's rough start featured a ton of turmoil, with head coach Greg Schiano's control over the team and job security both coming into question. Things finally boiled over when former franchise quarterback Josh Freeman was released on Oct. 3.

Rookie Mike Glennon took over as the starting quarterback, but it has been a red-hot ground game that has helped the Bucs record back-to-back wins. Rainey has been at the center of it, scoring the go-ahead touchdown in a win over the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 11 before having a coming out party in a 41-28 triumph over the Atlanta Falcons this past weekend.

Rainey, claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 21, ran the ball 30 times for 163 yards with two touchdowns while also adding a four-yard TD reception.

"The thing that Bobby has a benefit of is when he played at Western Kentucky, this is the stuff that he ran -- power, inside zone, those plays that we run," Schiano said. "So he was very, very comfortable seeing them and feeling them but to answer your question I don't think anyone thinks a guy is gonna come out and rush for, what, 163 yards. But very proud of him. The biggest thing is we didn't turn the ball over once."

Glennon threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns, one to Vincent Jackson as part of the receiver's 10-catch, 165-yard game.

Linebacker Mason Foster added a 37-yard pick-six as part of a 21-point second quarter for the Bucs.

"We're just focused on one game at a time right now and we can't do anything about the past," said Glennon. "We are looking to the forward. We had a great win today. We're going to enjoy this win, learn from our mistakes, and move on to the next one."

Tampa Bay will need its focus as it is 0-4 on the road this season and will play back-to-back as the visiting team.

The first stop is in Detroit to face a Lions club that will be looking to rebound from a 37-27 defeat to the hosting Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. Detroit scored all of its points in the second quarter and racked up just 72 total net yards in the second half after having 379 through the first two quarters.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson made all six of his catches in the first half for 179 yards and a score before getting shut out after halftime. Matthew Stafford threw for 362 yards with a pair of touchdown throws and one interception.

"We just didn't execute very well for three quarters of the game," said Stafford. "We didn't capitalize in the red zone as much as we needed to and that's something we've got to improve. We've got to bounce back because we have a couple of games real close to each other coming up."

Detroit, of course, will make its annual appearance on Thanksgiving when it hosts Green Bay after this contest. The Lions hope to do so with a victory in tow as they had won two straight before the setback to the Steelers.

The loss had an impact as the Lions fell to 6-4 and into a tie with the Chicago Bears for first place in the NFC North. Green Bay is right on their heels at 5-5.

The Lions have lost seven of their past 11 versus the Buccaneers, but have won the past two meetings, both in Tampa.

The Bucs have won four of their past five in Detroit, where the clubs are meeting for the first time since 2008.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13653 Followers:19
11/22/2013 01:48 PM

Rainey has become the talk of football this week after his incredible performance, going from waiver-wire pickup to sudden backfield stud. He has kept Tampa Bay's 13th-ranked ground game on track despite the loss of former starters Doug Martin and Mike James to season-ending injuries.

Martin, James and Rainey are the first trio of running backs in club history to have each recorded a 100-yard rushing game in the same season and Rainey is the first in team annuals to have a pair of rushing scores and a receiving touchdown in the same game.

"I've always been blessed with (vision)," said the 5-foot-8 Rainey. "And then with the offensive line being taller than me, it's hard to find me because I'm so short, so the offensive line does a great job of blocking and I just get behind them and hide, really."

The Buccaneers have recorded 140-plus rushing yards in three straight games for the first time since 2005 and have never done so in four consecutive games in team history.

Also key to the recent turnaround is a defense that is solid versus the run game and got a three-sack effort from defensive tackle Gerald McCoy versus the Falcons. He became the first Bucs player with a three-sack game since Jimmy Wilkerson in 2009 and joins Warren Sapp and Brad Culpepper as the only defensive tackles to do it in team history.

McCoy is looking to become the first Tampa Bay player since Simeon Rice during the 2005 season to have consecutive multiple-sack games.

Also looking to disrupt the Lions pass game are linebackers Lavonte David and Foster. David is the only current player this season to have 80-plus tackles, at least five sacks and one interception, while Foster is one of three players this season with a pair of pick-sixes but is questionable with a concussion.

Tampa will be without safety Dashon Goldson, who was suspended for one game due to a helmet-to-helmet hit on Atlanta receiver Roddy White, while cornerback Michael Adams landed on injured reserve this week due to a knee injury.

Adams was a key contributor to nickel and dime packages and further weakens a unit that is also dealing with a shoulder injury to rookie corner Johnthan Banks.

Stafford could exploit that one week after becoming the club's all-time leader in passing yards with 16,005, surpassing Hall of Famer Bobby Layne's former mark of 15,710.

In his only other meeting with the Bucs, Stafford threw for 305 yards with three touchdowns.

Johnson has 35 catches for 746 yards and seven touchdowns over his past four games and will try to rebound from his second-half shutout, though it wasn't from a lack of effort.

"We weren't going away from him," said Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. "We wanted to keep throwing. We threw the ball to him in two critical situations. One was a 3rd-and-goal and they doubled him as we expected. We still threw the ball to him, he wasn't able to get it down."

Johnson will likely be matched up this weekend against Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis in a battle between two of the best at their position.

"I think everybody has a chip on their shoulder each week, just going out and playing and trying to compete. When you match up the best against the best, (there's) probably a little bit more chip on your shoulder because, at the end of the game, you want to get the best of that person," said Revis. "I'm sure Calvin feels the same way. We'll see. I know Calvin, I know him off the field, and we'll see. It'll be fun."

Though ranked fifth against the run, the Lions struggled against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who threw four touchdown passes, and are giving up 283.8 yards per game through the air to rank 30th.

This despite linebacker DeAndre Levy tying for the NFL lead with five interceptions and defensive tackle Nick Fairley aiming to record a sack for a third straight game.

For the offense, wide receiver Nate Burleson could return to action for the first time since breaking his forearm in a car accident on Sept. 24.

However, safety Glover Quin suffered a left ankle injury versus Pittsburgh and could not finish the game.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0