Best Monday Night Football bets: Bucs-Rams

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football this week.

Wes Reynolds and Dave Tuley preview the game and break down their best bets.

Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4, 48)

Reynolds: The Rams and Buccaneers are both in the thick of the NFC playoff chase and are attempting to track down their respective division leaders as they meet Monday night in Tampa.

The Rams (6-3 SU; 5-4 ATS) gained ground in the NFC West last week by defeating Seattle 23-16 as three-point home favorites and holding the Seahawks offense to just 333 yards (67 under its current average) and its lowest point total of the year by a considerable margin. Jared Goff went 27-for-37 for 302 yards, but the defense was the story as it sacked Russell Wilson six times and forced three turnovers.

The Bucs (7-3 SU; 5-5 ATS) rebounded from an embarrassing home loss by covering easily as six-point road favorites in a 46-23 victory at Carolina. Tom Brady went 28-for-39 and threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns while the Bucs running game gained 210 yards (192 from Ronald Jones) on 37 carries. Brady spread the ball around to multiple targets and looked very comfortable with all the weapons in his arsenal including a solid game for Antonio Brown in his second game with the team.

Tampa Bay opened as 3.5-point favorites and is now -4.5 as the game has seen solid two-way action for most of the week. The Rams looked good in their last two national TV appearances including an easy 24-10 victory three weeks ago on “MNF” against Chicago and the win last week over Seattle in the “America’s Game of the Week” slot on Fox last weekend.

The Bucs have struggled in their past two national TV appearances, squeezing past the Giants, 25-23 on “MNF” as 13-point favorites, and getting hammered, 38-3, by the Saints the following Sunday night as they were held to just 194 yards of total offense and Brady threw three interceptions. The Saints have clearly been Brady’s kryptonite this season. In two games against New Orleans, Brady only completed 60.8 percent of his passes and had a 2-5 touchdown-interception ratio. Against the rest of the league, Brady has completed 67.2 percent of his passes for a 21-2 TD-INT ratio.

The Rams should present a challenge to the Bucs offense, considering they have the NFL’s No. 2 scoring defense (18.7 ppg) and rank third in sacks (31), QBR (81) and passing yards allowed (199.7 ypg). The Bucs’ offensive numbers look relatively pedestrian, though they do rank sixth in the league in scoring (29.6 ppg) and the game two weeks ago vs. New Orleans dramatically depresses the offensive statistics. If you take out the two meetings with the Saints, Tampa Bay averages 33.8 ppg (which would lead the league) and 397.6 ypg (which would rank fifth).

The Bucs present defensive challenges of their own, ranking No. 1 in the NFL for rushing defense (76.6 ypg), first in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) according to Football Outsiders and second in sacks (32). The Rams and Bucs rank second and third, respectively, in the league for total defense which explains the total of just 48. The Under has also cashed in six consecutive games for the Rams and in four of the Bucs last five games opposing teams with winning records.

Both teams have big games on deck — Rams hosting the 49ers in a revenge spot from their 24-16 loss on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 6 and the Bucs hosting the Chiefs in a matchup of the “young gun” Patrick Mahomes vs. “old lion” Brady.

Bettors tend to remember and put more emphasis on national TV and prime-time games. The Rams have looked better in those spotlights than have the Bucs in recent weeks. That could provide some value to Tampa Bay tonight under the Monday night lights. 

Tuley: I’m glad we’re not getting shorted on the number here as I love the Rams as underdogs but love even more that we’re getting more than 3 in case they lose by a field goal. The Buccaneers have lived up to the preseason hype with Brady and Co. at 7-3 (though only 5-5 ATS), but the Rams match up well with the Bucs on both sides of the ball and I have this game closer to pick-’em. After all, I’m not sold on the Buccaneers’ defense and expect the Rams’ balanced attack to have more success than the Bucs’ offense against the Rams’ D. In fact, I just talked myself into calling the outright upset.

Pick: Rams 4

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