Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (5-6 SU, 7-4 ATS)
Week 13 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 4, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: TB +4/SD -4
Over/Under Total: 47.5
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the trip out west on Sunday to face the San Diego Chargers in key week 13 action from Qualcomm Stadium. Tampa is on a nice roll with three straight wins that have put them back in contention in the NFC South. On Sunday, they scored a big win over Seattle, 14-5. They have a tough one this week to make it four in a row with a dangerous Chargers bunch that is coming off a nice road win over the Houston Texans on Sunday, 21-13. Though only 5-6 and out of it in the tough AFC West, they represent a problematic matchup for the streaking Bucs. Who comes out ahead this week in Mission Valley?
The Chargers could really be 8-3 with all their late-game collapses. But even though they let down at the end of games and haven't gotten the most of what they have at times in games, they are still playing hard, as evidenced by Sunday's win over Houston. They have been hit hard by injuries this season and the bye week seemed to help them rest their bones, as the team played with more overall energy on Sunday.
On Sunday, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers threw three TD passes and has 23 on the season. Three ball-catchers who have helped fill gaps with all the injuries to their skill positions caught TDs on Sunday, with Hunter Henry, Dontrelle Inman, and Tyrell Williams all hauling in scoring grabs. Melvin Gordon had 70 yards rushing and 4 catches and has been a far better overall weapon this season. Williams has been a good playmaker as he was supposed to have a very minor role this season. He has almost 800 yards receiving. Antonio Gates has been quiet at times this season, but is still a threat. Travis Benjamin has made some big plays among his 40 receptions. There are a lot of weapons for a team that was hit so hard by injuries.
For however hard the offense was hit by the injury bug, the defense has been hit harder. Key guys across all areas of the defense have been out for extended periods of time. Over half of their starters are on the injury list. The middle, which was thriving with the standout play of some blossoming linebackers, has been decimated by injuries. They still have a lot of pep and are playing really hard. Joey Bosa has been a good addition to the line and is rushing the passer well. They picked off three Osweiler passes on Sunday and were a big part of the Chargers' win. Casey Hayward picked off his 6th ball of the season, with Dexter McCoil and Dwight Lowery also notching picks on the day. They lost a key part of their run-stop with Brandon Mebane going on IR, but they did well without him against the Texans, so we'll see how they handle Doug Martin this week.
Tampa is doing really well after things looked to be bleak after a 3-5 start. In this three game stretch, they have outscored opponents 69-32. They enter week 13 one game behind Atlanta in the NFC South. The offense and defense alike have been showing better energy and greater overall urgency in the past several weeks. Jameis Winston has gotten the aerial game on the right track, while Doug Martin returned a few weeks ago from a long absence and is prime to start notching some big games. Tampa is a team that looks to be on the way up under first-year head coach Dirk Koetter.
Winston has been playing well lately. He has 11 picks on the season, but only three in the last 7 games. Martin getting back into the swing of things would really lend some versatility to this offense, one that has been forced to rely on the pass a lot more. Some forget Martin had 1400 yards last season and maybe he can have a late-season spurt. Winston has connected big-time with Mike Evans, who is second in the NFL with 1020 yards with ten touchdowns. Adam Humphries has been productive, along with TE Cameron Brate. And once Martin gets going, he can be useful as a short pass option.
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The Tampa defense was underachieving in a big way up until a few weeks ago. The 32 combined points they have given up in the last three games is a major improvement from where they seemed to be heading just prior to that when getting 73 points hung on them by Atlanta and Oakland. They've been getting better play up-front, but Gerald McCoy is questionable with a leg issue. Rookie Noah Spence has been getting after the quarterback in recent weeks. Kwon Alexander has been making plays all over the field. Let's see if they can keep it up against a San Diego offense that can really push a "D" to its limits.
Tampa Bay is in a tough spot with a cross-country trip into a stadium a lot of guys on that roster have never played in. Not that San Diego offers any conditions that are hard to overcome and sometimes the visiting team's fans are more-boisterous than the indifferent San Diego home crowd. After beating two winning teams in the Chiefs and Seahawks, it's hard to scoff at the recent Tampa spurt. I see both offenses having success this week in a potential shootout. I'm taking the over.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting over 47.5 in the Chargers vs. Buccaneers game. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Buccaneers vs. Chargers game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!