Denver Broncos (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS)
Week 4 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: DEN -3/TB -3
Over/Under Total: 44
The Denver Broncos come to Raymond James Stadium on Sunday to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Broncos are 3-0, with a seamless transition with a new QB coming off his best game yet. The Bucs are looking to avoid three straight losses after a week one road win over the Falcons. On Sunday, they lost a sloppy and draining affair to the Rams, 37-32. Denver, meanwhile, is coming off a nifty 29-17 road win over the Bengals on Sunday. Can Tampa come up with something to even the slate at 2-2 or will the Denver machine keep on rolling?
Against the Bengals, the Broncos were slugging it out back-and-forth with them in a game that stayed really close the whole time. In the 4th quarter, Denver QB Trevor Siemian threw two touchdown passes, including a 55-yard strike to Demaryius Thomas to sew it up late. After easing Siemian in for a few games, they let him swing it from the hip a little more on Sunday and the surprisingly-effective former 7th-round draft choice threw for 312 yards and 4 touchdowns. After three interceptions in the first two games, he didn't have any against Cincinnati, a tough defense to look good against on the road for an unseasoned player like Siemian. He's already beaten the Panthers, Colts, and Bengals—not a bad start to a career for an unsung guy.
Denver's offense looked like it did with Manning before his health betrayed him, as Siemian connected with Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders for 217 combined yards and three touchdowns. The run-game never got untracked, but they didn't really need it this past week. For what most people were expecting from this group, it's hard to get too picky. They (and specifically Siemian) have over-performed to a high degree.
With the offense able to chip in, it only helps a Denver defense that has maintained its level from last season. Against three offenses that can put up a ton of points, they've given up 57 combined points. As was the case last season, opposing quarterbacks, even ones who have their way with most teams, get nowhere with Denver. Their secondary is tip-top. And the front is also one of the best. Rookie Shane Ray continues to shine after three sacks on Sunday, while Von Miller added another sack and has five already. It's a defense that delivers time and again. On Sunday in what looked to be shaping into a difficult road test, the defense was able to hold a home Bengals team to just a field goal in the second half, letting the offense warm to the task and carry the team into the winner's circle.
Tampa was deflated after not coming away with a win at home against the Rams. Jameis Winston threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns, though a pick proved to be costly. The Bucs fought and got it to 37-32 with 2:15 left. They forced a punt and got it down to the Rams 15, before a pair of Winston incompletions before he got tackled on the five to end the game. It was a tough way to lose, but the Bucs confirmed their danger-potential, especially on offense.
Winston was able to get this offense moving, though the stalled final drive was a letdown and the interceptions have to stop, as the offense is good, but not explosive enough to pick up the slack. Winston also coughed up a fumble that was returned for a TD, making Winston dangerous against both the opponent and his own team lately. Charles Sims ran for a score, though they could use a productive Doug Martin back in the fold, which won't happen until mid-October. Sims also caught 6 passes for 69 yards. Mike Evans was big on the day with 10 catches for 132 yards and a TD, while Adam Humphries shows signs of coming around, following a 9 reception performance for 100 yards against the Rams. TE Cameron Brate has become a favorite Winston target, particularly in the red zone. He caught two touchdowns against the Rams. Vincent Jackson is still a factor in the aerial game. There are a lot of weapons on this offense.
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The Rams offense hadn't scored a TD before Sunday, before scoring five against the Bucs, one a result of a fumble recovery. Still, it was not a terribly promising demonstration on defense, though it's important to note that they got put in some pretty bad spots by the offense. Though he scored two TDs, the defense held Todd Gurley to 85 yards on 27 carries. It's just that a Rams offense that couldn't sustain any drives for two weeks was able to against Tampa and they had success in the red-zone after not having much in the first few weeks. They still held LA to 320 yards and their offense had 472. They weren't at their best and they weren't very clutch on Sunday, but Jameis Winston shoulders some of the blame, as fewer miscues would have made this defense look a little better.
Whoever is to blame, the Bucs will need to find a way to hold opponents to fewer points, having given up 77 in the past two weeks. Over half of those can be attributed to Winston turnovers. Against a team that almost never undermines itself, he will need to show more overall proficiency this week, though it won't be easy against the Denver defense. Any repeat of the last two weeks in terms of mistakes will be pounced on heavily by the Broncos—one of the reasons they're defending champions. They don't let mistakes slide without penalty. The problem isn't the defense for Denver in this matchup, however, it's the offense. In a long cross-conference road trip, it seems like a good time to catch a Denver offense that is a bit sluggish. Combined with the explosiveness of the Bucs' offense, I see Tampa covering the spread as the home dog this week.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus 3 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Denver vs. Tampa Bay game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!