- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 10-point road favorites over the Detroit Lions on Boxing Day (Dec. 26, 1 pm EST)
- Tampa Bay can clinch a playoff spot with a victory
- See below for analysis, odds and a betting prediction
The last time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the playoffs, Tom Brady was leading the New England Patriots to an undefeated regular season and a third Super Bowl appearance in five seasons. Fast forward 13 years, and TB12 can lock up the first step to getting back to the big game for a 10th time, by helping the Bucs clinch a postseason berth.
To do so, all Tampa Bay needs to do is beat a lifeless Detroit Lions team in Week 16, that was just pounded in Tennessee. The Lions have lost four of their last five, and oddsmakers aren’t expecting this matchup to be particularly close.
Buccaneers vs Lions Odds
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-10.0 (-106)||-460||Over 54.0 (-110)|
|Detroit Lions||+10.0 (-114)||+360||Under 54.0 (-110)|
Odds taken Dec. 24th at FanDuel.
The Bucs opened as a 7.5-point favorite, but that number has soared to -10. Kickoff is slated for Boxing Day at 1 pm EST, in the friendly confines of Ford Field in Detroit.
A Pristine Matchup For Tampa Bay
No team has allowed more quarterback production than the Lions over the last four weeks. They’ve surrendered point totals of 41, 30, 31, and 46, generating pressure on opposing QB’s on just 20% of drop backs. That’s good news for Brady, who has shredded defenses this season when kept clean.
Brady to Antonio Brown DEEP for the lead against the #Falcons
A different team for Tom Brady but once again a huge come back against the #Falcons, was down 17-0 at halftime. pic.twitter.com/xcQzOYUYNs
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 20, 2020
Brady leads the NFL in passing yards and ranks second in touchdown passes from a clean pocket. Keeping pressure away from him was key in the Bucs Week 15 victory over the Falcons, as Atlanta put the heat on Brady on just 6.7% of his second half pass attempt. The extra time and room in the pocket, allowed TB12 to generate five scoring drives and 31 second half points, erasing a 17-0 deficit along the way.
Not only will Brady have plenty of time to throw on Boxing Day, but his receivers should have no issue getting open. The Lions are down multiple players in their secondary, including starters Jeff Okudah and Desmond Trufant.
Stafford as Tough as Nails
You can poke fun at how miserable Detroit has been over the past couple decades, but you can never question the heart of Matthew Stafford. Despite torn rib cartilage and an injured thumb on his throwing hand, Stafford still suited up in Week 15, and kept the Lions within striking distance of the Titans for three quarters.
Matthew Stafford was asked why it was important for him to play.
“I’m the quarterback of the Detroit Lions, and it was Sunday, and I got a bunch of teammates out there that work their ass off. … If I’m good enough to play, healthy enough to play, my ass is gonna be out there.”
— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) December 20, 2020
Stafford has played exceptionally well since Matt Patricia was fired a month ago, earning the third highest passing grade from Pro Football Focus over the last three weeks.
Matthew Stafford with the no-look wizardry ?❌
(via @thecheckdown) pic.twitter.com/ro7yacoPBj
— ESPN (@espn) December 22, 2020
Tampa Bay’s primary strength on defense is its pass rush, but Stafford has excelled with heat in his face this season. He’s the second highest graded passer under pressure in 2020, behind only Justin Herbert.
Stafford will likely be without number one wideout Kenny Golladay yet again, which means more work for Marvin Jones. The eight-year vet caught 10 passes for 112 yards and a score last week versus Tennessee.
Before you run to the window to bet the Bucs, consider the following. Tampa Bay ranks seventh worst in expected points allowed per play since Week 6, and have fallen behind by double-digits in half of their games this season. Luckily for them, they’ve been able to overcome those deficits in their majority of their contests, like they did last week, but their propensity for slow starts is a problem.
Even with a hobbled Stafford, Detroit can still put up points, and laying -10 with the Bucs in this spot feels too high. We’ve seen big underdogs like the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals win outright in the last week, and I’m banking on another large dog to put up a fight on Boxing Day.
Pick: Detroit Lions +10 (-114)