Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2 SU, 4-5 ATS)
Week 11 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, November 20, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: TB +7.5/KC -7.5
Over/Under Total: 44
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The Chiefs rallied from a 17-0 deficit on Sunday on the road against the Carolina Panthers, scoring a go-ahead field goal with time running out to escape with the 20-17 win. After coming off an early bye in week five, they have won five straight and are tied atop the AFC West with the hot Oakland Raiders. Tampa is 4-5 and coming off a big 35-10 win over the Bears to break a 2-game win streak. After three straight at home, they now take to the road in a difficult cross-conference road assignment. At 4-5, they are not in a state of total hopelessness, with the NFC South still up in the air.
The Chiefs have really been a study of perseverance again this season. The injuries have come furiously. Quarterback Alex Smith has been banged up this season. Jamaal Charles' return never panned out. Top receiver Jeremy Maclin was out last game. But they've battled back from those personnel issues and an uneven 2-2 start to become conference contenders once again. When you see they have the 26th ranked offense and the 21st ranked defense, it's strange that they're 7-2. What they are is a well-coached, efficient, and relatively mistake-free and resourceful team that gets the most of what they have.
When you look at the Kansas City offense, it's amazing they get as much as they do. Alex Smith has been his typically-efficient self, working with a minimal cast of playmakers consisting of Maclin, a good tight end in Travis Kelce, and role guys like Chris Conley, Tyreek Hill, and Albert Wilson. Smith's best weapon is Spencer Ware, a solid running back who averages 5 yards a carry, while offering a viable short-pass option. He returned from a concussion last week after being slowed for a few weeks. It's not a great group, but they can still do damage.
The KC defense is not high in any rankings, coming in at 13th in passing-defense and 27th against the run. But in allowing 18.7 points a game, they're ranked a respectable 7th. They deliver in the clutch, as evidenced throughout the season. They've gotten 22 turnovers, scoring 4 times. Eric Berry's pick-six on Sunday was a key moment in their comeback win over the Panthers. Marcus Peters has five picks this season. Dee Ford has ten sacks. That kind of playmaking ability can take a sad song and make it better, hence a defense that plays over its head a lot.
Tampa looks to make a move in the second half. Jameis Winston was over 300 yards on Sunday en route to a 36-10 smashing at home over the Bears. It was the first home win for the Buccaneers this season, as they look to put that ability to win on the road to work this week. They got Doug Martin back after he missed a chunk of time with an injury. If he can start snapping back into form soon, it'd give the offense a big boost. Winston has been leading a nice cast of receivers, led by Mike Evans. Injuries have cost them some zip aerially, but guys like Adam Humphries and TE Cameron Brate have kept the train chugging along. There are issues up front, however. After losing C Evan Smith, they're now down to their third option at center, unless Joe Hawley can bounce back in time for Sunday.
In the 4 wins Tampa has, their defense was able to prevent an offensive onslaught. In their five losses, teams have more or less had their way with this group. They're an erratic group that plays with a lot of different forms. Their rankings are pretty low, but they're at least capable of playing decently, particularly against the more milquetoast offenses they play. And Kansas City would certainly qualify. On the right day, they can get turnovers and get after the QB a little.
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Under first-year coach Dirk Koetter, Tampa is trying to work on some different things. There is a long tradition of losing to undo and it often doesn't happen overnight. Injuries have sapped some of the offense's venom, as they've struggled to establish momentum or continuity. And the defense, despite abundant talent, has also suffered key losses, while still probably missing a couple key pieces to make things really come together.
This is not an easy one to predict by any means. No games are, but one can justify a sneaking suspicion that Tampa stands out as a dangerous opponent this week against the Chiefs. The Chiefs, however, keep plugging along—always getting better results than what you'd forecast. And they do so consistently. Arrowhead is still one of the toughest places to play, with most guys on that Tampa sideline seeing this venue for the first time. Still, with the big number, the Chiefs become a less-appealing option. I'll take the points.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus 7.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Bucs vs. Chiefs game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!