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Thursday Night Football Betting – Can The Bucs Stop Todd Gurley?

Posted by Matthew Forrester on 12/17/2015 3:17:29 PM

We’ve got three weeks left in the season, which means we’re running out of time to make money…which also means that we have to start taking the minefield that is the Thursday Night Football betting matchup a bit more seriously. I know it’s impossible to get too fired up about a Bucs-Rams game, especially this season, but it’s also a battle between the two Rookie of the Year candidates. So at least there’s that.

Jameis Winston’s season has been one of frustration. The complexities of reading NFL defenses sees to escape the rookie quarterback. He’s doing all the regular things an over-coached gunslinger does. Last Sunday, he attempted 32 passes to 8 different teammates, and over a third of those targets were dump offs to his running backs. Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson had 5 targets total.

And I asked this question in the power rankings I post every week: why isn’t Winston running more often? It’s obvious that he has the legs, even though we rarely saw him use them at FSU. I mean, nobody’s saying that they wish Rodgers or Cam or Alex Smith would run less. The NFL is different now. You can mold your quarterback in to who he is, not what your head coach wants him to be.

There are no discernable consistencies in anything that Tampa does because they have no, actual identity. It’s disconcerting for a team that has so many good players, but it’s an obvious byproduct of Lovie Smith’s personality trickling through the team. They’re lacking identity is one of the reasons most of the action is migrating away from them in Thursday Night Football betting.

At the very least, Tampa is 4-1 ATS when playing teams with losing records and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games. Best be warned, however, that they’re also 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Thursday games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) vs. St. Louis Rams (5-8)

Thursday, December 17th --- Edward Jones Dome

Thursday Night Football Betting Line – STL -1 (41.0)

The softer touch of a Lovie Smith is something which irritates fans because it comes off as noncommittal, but the brash, thrashings of a hot head like Jeff Fisher tends to be a double edged sword. Fisher is one of those “run through the wall” type coaches. He gets his players to respond to him. The problem with these Rams is that they don’t have the leadership in house to carry on the manifest being handed down from up top.

The Rams have a ton of great players on defense, like Akeem ayers, James Laurinatis and Aaron Donald. These guys are all veterans who can carry the mission of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams forward. That’s part of the reason why the Rams have allowed just 20.8 points per game (12th overall) and a big factor in why the team is attracting so many to their side of the Thursday Night Football betting line.

No type of player exists like that on the offensive side of the football for St. Louis. Case Keenum is a backup quarterback who’s not much better than Foles, while Tavon Austin, Greg Robinson and Gurley are simply too young to command the respect of their teammates. There’s just nobody leading the charge, which is part of the reason that this grouping is so inconsistent offensively. They’re even dead last in field goal percentage.

That being said, the Rams are a more likeable team because when they show up, they can take down some of the league’s best. There are massive responsibilities being thrust upon Gurley, who has posted four games of 146, 159, 128 and 133 yards while piling up three touchdowns before he crashed back down to earth with five performances of sub-90 yards. Last weekend, he returned to form with 140 and 2 touchdowns but it’s unlikely that he does enough, total damage to a Bucs defense that can get away with keying on him while waiting for Case Keenum to do Case Keenum things.

It gets ugly when the Rams try to be a passing team. That’s why St. Louis has some bad trends, like their 3-10-1 ATS record in Week 15 and their 1-4 ATS record after winning the previous game.

The notion is that St. Louis can be a better team at home, but that’s misguided with their 4-4 SU record at home pretty much telling the story. Tampa is the type of team that can sneak up on St. Louis and the passion that Tampa displayed in the narrow loss to New Orleans last weekend will carry over. I just have less confidence in St. Louis stringing back-to-back wins together largely because it’s an achievement they’ve only managed twice in two years.

That’s why the Bucs, as counter intuitive as it may feel, are the better bet as road dogs. Take the point and the visitors in Thursday Night Football betting while the UNDER remains a nominal take as both teams struggle to find their offensive footing.

Thursday Night Football Free Pick – Tampa +1 (UNDER)


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