NFL Playoff Picks -- Will Bucs-Lions be an old-fashioned shootout?

  • In Charles Jay
  • Sun, Jan 21st, 2024 11:38:36 am
  • By Charles Jay - Exclusive to OSGA

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers try to continue their improbable ride as they take on the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday afternoon.

NFL Playoff picks and predictions for Bucs at Lions

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were not supposed to be here. After winning the NFC South last season, essentially by default, they fell to the Dallas Cowboys and then lost Tom Brady through retirement. Many BetOnline patrons were skeptical about Baker Mayfield's insertion into the starting lineup.

After all, we're not even sure the coaching staff had all the confidence in the world in him, because they originally had him having to battle it out with Will Grier for the starting spot.

At this point, they are glad he won, because as a result, THEY won. And now they are one step away from the NFC Championship Game. What they have to do is beat the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday afternoon (3 PM ET).

Lions Bucs free pickOf course, the Lions are going to offer resistance in the form of a very productive offense; one that can beat a team on the ground or in the air. They have the hot coach (Dan Campbell) and the hot coordinator (Ben Johnson) and a whole city of hungry fans who haven't seen a world championship since 1957.

Jared Goff has thrown for 4575 yards. Mayfield had 4044. Both of these teams have done a heck of a job slowing down enemy ground attacks but may not be able to hold up all that well against the pass.

These teams played on October 15 at Raymond James Stadium, with Detroit winning 20-6. The Bucs were held to 252 yards, 13 first downs and two field goals. Mayfield completed 19 of 37 passes, while Goff threw for 353 yards.

As we contemplate our NFL playoff picks, here are the odds as they have been posted at BetOnline:

Detroit Lions                   -6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +6

Over 49.5 Points -110
Under 49.5 Points -110

Detroit has a running back combination that is probably second to none in the NFL. David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs have over 2000 yards together and the offensive line is graded second best in run blocking by Pro Football Focus (PFF). Tampa Bay is one of the hardest teams to run on (3.8 ypc allowed). So it won't be easy for Campbell to force his game plan down the Bucs' throats.

Buccaneers Lions predictionsWe're interested in how Goff will handle blitzes, because Todd Bowles is completely committed to blitzing whenever possible. He attempts more play action passes than anyone, and that is what he has to do effectively in order to keep the Bucs' pass rush honest.

Tampa Bay finished dead last in the NFL with 3.4 yards per rush attempt this season. But offensive coordinator Dave Canales wanted to avoid having an offense as unbalanced as last year's, when they had 66 pass plays with only 12 rushes against Dallas in the playoff game.

Canales is going to run the ball if for no other reason than to show the opponent that they are willing to do it, so the opponent must defend it. And the Lions do a great job with that, allowing just 3.7 yards a pop.

So that won't be a critical part of the Bucs' offense, but they do want to get Rachaad White involved in the passing game. And they have done just that, as he caught 64 passes this season.

We are not sure what to deduce from The Buccaneers' 32-9 win over Philadelphia last week, because the Eagles looked unprepared and like a team that quit as soon as they came out of the locker room.

But we are leaning toward Tampa Bay here for several reasons. One is that they can at least make the Lions uncomfortable doing what they really want to do, which is to run the football. They can also make Goff uncomfortable in his dropbacks, by bringing a lot more pressure.

Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have the ability to beat the Detroit secondary, which doesn't have a guy like their own Antoine Winfield Jr. to thwart top receivers. Also, even though the Bucs have not beaten top-of-the-heap teams, they are 8-1 against the spread on the road, so they won't be intimidated much.

As for the "shootout" part as it is described in the title, if two teams seem to have a tougher path running the ball but can see some daylight in the other team's secondary, an "over" might be a logical place to look.

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