Tampa Bay / Arizona Preview – Is This Tom’s Week?
by Thomas Quaynor – NFL analyst for Wannamakeabet.com
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) go on the road to face the Arizona Cardinals (4-10) on Christmas night. I don’t think the NFL envisioned that both teams would be this bad when they scheduled this as a stand-alone, prime time matchup. Tampa Bay opened as a 3-point favorite; the line is now up to 7.5! Both teams are struggling heading into this game, Tampa lost 34-23 at home to the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday, which was their third loss in their last four games, while Arizona lost their fourth straight game at Denver, 24-15.
Why Bet on Tampa?
The Tampa Buccaneers entered the season with high expectations after Tom Brady retired, then un-retired during the offseason but injuries to key players on the offensive line, offensive skill position players and defense, combined with inconsistent play from star players (Leonard Fournette and Mike Evans) have dropped them to a disappointing 6-8 on the year.
Despite the poor record, the Buccaneers still lead the NFC South by a half game over New Orleans and Carolina, both of them are 6-9 after upset wins on Christmas Eve. The Buccaneers still remain in a good position to win the division, get the 4 seed and host a playoff game if they win on Christmas. We’ve heard a lot of chatter about Tom Brady’s play on the field and a “big development” in his personal life, but his 3,897 passing yards ranks 3rd in the NFL behind Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, Brady has also passed for 20 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. He’s quietly having a pretty strong year at age 45.
The offense still has a lot of the same guys (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette, Scotty Miller) who won the Super Bowl with Brady two seasons ago, a strong finish over these last three weeks can give them momentum heading into the playoff where they’ll get to host a playoff game. Rookie running back Rachaad White has played well filling in for Lenard Fournette. Like the offense, the Buccaneers defense isn’t as potent as it was during the 2020 Super Bowl season, due to injuries and inconsistency but they still have a number of big play guys in defensive tackle Vita Vea, linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White and safety Antoine Winfield Jr.
Why Bet on Arizona?
After making the playoffs last year, the Arizona Cardinals gave quarterback Kyler Murray a 230.5-million-dollar extension and traded a first-round pick for explosive Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Hollywood Brown in the offseason, things appeared to be looking up.
A 6-game drug suspension for star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in May, a 3-6 start to the year and injuries to Hollywood Brown pretty much derailed the season for the Cardinals. Kyler Murray’s season-ending knee injury against the Patriots on December 12th was the nail in the coffin. Backup quarterback Colt McCoy suffered a concussion last week in Denver and will not play in this game, QB3 Trace McSorley now takes over, he will be making his first NFL start.
DeAndre Hopkins has 713 receiving yards in 8 games, 89.1 yards per game, he’s still among the best wideouts in the NFL. If the Cardinals can ever get Hopkins, Hollywood Brown, running back James Conner and tight end Zach Ertz to be healthy for an entire season, they have the chance to be elite, but with Kyler Murray’s torn ACL, we may not to see the offense in full form until 2024. The defense has struggled for the most part but has some standout players in veteran all-pro defensive end J.J. Watt, safety Budda Baker and linebacker Isaiah Simmons.
The Cardinals are planning their offseason vacation at this point and Tom Brady probably smells blood here, lay the 7.5…Tampa Bay 28, Arizona 13
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