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QB Andy Dalton has not been strong in his career versus the Steelers with a paltry 410 passing yards (137 YPG), 5.0 YPA, 4 TD and 3 INT in three games against them. Although Pittsburgh has some key injuries in the secondary, this is still the NFL's top defense in terms of total yardage (274 YPG), ranking 4th against the run (93 YPG) and first in passing defense (181 YPG).
The Cowboys are still on the outside of the NFC playoff picture looking in, but their chances improved dramatically after topping Pittsburgh in overtime last Sunday for their fifth win in six games. Cornerback Morris Claiborne expects to play Sunday after missing last week's victory over Pittsburgh with a concussion. Running back DeMarco Murray is also probable despite missing practice on Wednesday. Dallas is 3-0 since Murray returned from a foot injury that shelved him for six contests. The Saints posted a 41-0 home triumph over the Bucs last Sunday. Despite the shutout, New Orleans' defense still ranks last in the league as it has allowed an average of 446.2 yards per contest. The underdog is 7-0 ATS in their last seven meetings.
Spread: Buccaneers minus-3
Public consensus pick: 62 percent picked Bucs
Public perception: This is the biggest surprise to me of the week with the public on the Bucs over 60 percent despite their 41-0 loss to the Saints, plus the Rams are the one with a chance (albeit slim) to get a wild-card slot.
Wiseguys' view: Jeff Fisher has long been a great underdog coach for sharp bettors, and the Rams are 9-3 ATS as dogs this year (0-2 as the favorite).
Tuley's Take: The Bucs are 0-2-2 ATS in the last four games and no longer the best spread team as they're now 8-4-2 and have been passed by the Redskins and Seahawks at 10-4. However, I'm not confident the Rams will take advantage of the Bucs' poor defense and Tampa Bay might play more loosely with no pressure on. The pick: Pass (pool play: Rams).