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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Arizona Cardinals Point Spread - Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. Arizona Cardinals (2-3 SU, 0-5 ATS)
Week 6 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 4:05PM EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
TV: Fox

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: TB -2/ARI +2
Over/Under Total: 44.5

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to Glendale to face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in NFC week six action. The Buccaneers enter this matchup knotted up at 2-2, following a disheartening 19-14 loss to the Patriots on Thursday. The win seemed so attainable, as the Bucs made a strong comeback effort, only to see 3 missed field goals spoil their efforts. They now turn their attention the Cardinals, who are looking for answers after a rough 34-7 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday. They've tried to piece it together the best they can, but injuries and inconsistent play have rendered them a shadow of where they were a few short years ago.

Tampa really could have won the Patriots game. But a common theme keeps rearing its head and it's the placekicking game. You can't win in this league if you can't connect on field goals that are routine for every other kicker. It completely undermined their performance and to see K Nick Folk spraying it all over the field like a JV high school kicker was upsetting. He is out and Patrick Murray, who previously spent time on the Bucs, is in. That's not to say that's their only football issue on the team, but in a league where games are going to be close, leaving 9 points on the table isn't going to cut it. Maybe Murray can deliver.

This two-game road stretch will tell a lot about a Tampa offense that has been erratic thus far in 2017. Jameis Winston is doing fairly well and you can see how he gets better when the game is on the line. He's one of those quarterbacks who has a knack for the dramatic. The aerial game could benefit from increased chemistry with DeSean Jackson and against the Patriots they looked to connect better. Mike Evans is still top dog aerially, while Cameron Brate remains a go-to target when in-close. He caught a TD last week, while they still await more contributions from first-round tight end OJ Howard. After a suspension, we saw the return of RB Doug Martin and he looked good with 74 yards on just 13 carries with a touchdown.

The defense of the Buccaneers deserves some credit for holding a powerful Patriots' offense to under 20 points. Coming off a game where they gave up 34 points to the Bradford-less Vikings, they held the Giants to 23 and the Patriots to 19 in consecutive games. That's not half bad considering the injury issues they are facing. The middle is decimated without Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander, though Alexander's return could be imminent. TJ Ward was also out on Thursday and the secondary will need to be better, as CB Brent Grimes has been slipping. With young Vernon Hargreaves still coming along. And safety play can also be dicey with Chris Conte and a rookie in Justin Evans.

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The Cardinals have alternated wins and losses since week one. They would like that pattern to repeat at home this week against the incoming Bucs, but confidence is low after laying an egg in week five. Both sides of the ball have been inordinately affected by injuries, especially on offense. The line has been decimated and when combined with a guy they depended on greatly for offensive production in David Johnson being out for the season, it's perhaps too much for the Cardinals to overcome.

The Cardinals offense really depended on Johnson for production aerially and on the ground. And the attention he commanded let other players shine. Now, they are basically deprived of any semblance of a run-game. That leaves them with an aging gunslinger in Carson Palmer working behind a patchwork O-line trying to connect with Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Ellington, JJ Nelson, and John Brown. Nothing against those players, but the formula was dependent on Johnson and without him; they are a meandering unit without real direction, just trying to string something together without a real aim or style. Can the midweek acquisition of Adrian Peterson help? If not, Palmer is resigned to chucking up a bunch of passes and while he can always rack up yardage and decent-looking stat sheets, they are averaging just over 16 points a game.

The Cardinals defense was decent against Indy and Frisco, but they haven't done well with the better offenses they have faced in Detroit, Dallas, and the Eagles last week. We've seen the Cardinals secondary giving up big plays this season and even with Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu back there, they haven't been very good. They seem to be without their pass-rushing prowess and not having Marcus Golden in there has hurt. Chandler Jones had a sack on Sunday, but it's just not enough. Deone Buchanon and Karlos Dansby are still active in the middle. But the big plays they are yielding needs to be reduced in frequency and with an offense that has been stripped of a lot of its potency, they need to do start doing more of the heavy lifting.

Neither team is really going to be soaring mentally coming into this week 6 spot. But overall, despite similar records, Tampa seems to have infinitely more hope for the rest of the season. But this is not an easy road spot for them, as even a wayward Arizona team can be scrappy at home. The Bucs' offense is hardly bankable, especially on the road. I picture a game that is competitive, with the Bucs pulling it off in the end.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers minus 2 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Tampa Bay vs. Arizona game from home 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!

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