Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2) at New York Giants (1-6)
I have had the Buccaneers as underrated for a while and, as a result, I have bet on them every week since week 2. It has worked out, as the Buccaneers have gone 5-1 ATS over that stretch. Everyone knew about Tom Brady and the weapons coming into the season, but their young defense was also dominant down the stretch last season, which didn’t get a lot of attention and, after the Buccaneers lost in New Orleans in week 1 in a game they would have likely won if not for an uncharacteristic -3 turnover margin (+8.11% first down rate margin), the Buccaneers became a smart bet going forward.
The Buccaneers lost stud defensive tackle Vita Vea for the season with a broken ankle in week 5, but that was right around when the Buccaneers got their dominant wide receiver duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin both healthy for the first time all season, which cancelled out Vea’s absence. Overall, the Buccaneers rank first in the league in scheduled adjusted first down rate differential at +6.71%, a wide margin over the #2 ranked Rams (+3.27%), and have not missed a beat without Vea because of other players stepping up and/or getting healthy.
However, there are a couple reasons why the Buccaneers aren’t a good bet this week. For one, the lines seem to have caught up with how good this team is, as they are favored by 13 points over the Giants, after being favored by just 8.5 points on the early line last season. That is despite the fact that the Buccaneers have lost Chris Godwin to injury again, which is a big blow for this team. Now with Godwin, Vea, and tight end OJ Howard, the key injuries are starting to stack up for a Buccaneers team that falls slightly out of the top spot in my roster rankings this week. I’m still taking the Buccaneers for pick ‘em purposes, but I have no confidence in them at this number.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 New York Giants 10
Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay -13