The Chargers come to Tampa on Sunday, and books have the opening line with the Bucs as a -3 favorite. If home field is 3 pts, then that tells us the books basically sees this as a PK if it were on a neutral field. That said, books are also making you pay a little more for this action, with a wager on the Bucs at -3 (-125).
As I cap this game, these are a few things that jump out at me:
LOOKING AT STATS:
Chargers Offense: The Chargers offense averages 23 pts a game, 323 yards a game, 217 passing yards a game, and 105 rushing yards a game.
Chargers Defense: Very strong - Giving up on average 19.6 pts (8th) a game, 321.8 yards a game (9th), 237.8 passing (18th), and only 84 rushing yards (4th). Shaun Phillips is sure to create problems for Freeman on Sunday.
Bucs Offensive Stats: (Yes, the Bucs): 28.2 pts a game (5th), 376.4 yds a game (9th), 245 pass yds a game (13th), 131 rushing yds a game (9th)
Oakland: Chargers scored 22 and gave up 14 against the Raiders back on opening day. The Bucs scored 42 and gave up 32 against the Raiders last week.
Chiefs: The Chargers scored 37 and gave up 20 against the Chiefs in week 4 (in KC). Last week, in their second game against the Chiefs (@ home), they scored 31 and gave up 13 The Bucs scored 38 and gave up 10 against the Chiefs.
Chargers Strong Defensive Rankings vs Bucs Strong Offense and Weaker Defense Ranking - Strength of Schedule:
Comparing stats is important, but a capper must look at strength of schedule to see how credible these rankings are:
Chargers opponents to date: Raiders (3-5), Titans (3-6), Falcons (8-0) , Chiefs x2 (again x2 = 2-14) , Saints (3-5), Broncos (5-3), and Browns (2-7). The combined records of all Chargers opponents is therefore 26-40.
Bucs opponents to date: Panthers (2-6), Giants (6-3), Cowboys (3-5) , Redskins (3-6), Chiefs (1-7), Saints (3-5), Vikings (5-4), and Raiders (3-5). The combined records of all Buccaneer opponents is therefore 26-41.
Thus, opponents records are essentially identical, but there is still some good info to take from this. I'm not buying that they've played an equal strength of schedule. First, the Chargers opponents stats are a little skewed by the Falcons 8-0 record. How did the Chargers do against their strongest opponents (Falcons and Broncos)? Against the Falcons, they were crushed in SD 27-3. Against the Broncos they lost 35-24.
The Bucs, on the other hand (regardless of opponents records), have played the Giants and Cowboys on the road, and have also played the Redskins and Vikings. The "eyeball test" tells me the Bucs clearly have had a tougher schedule.
Which team is hotter:
The Chargers are 1-3 over their last 4 games, the Bucs are 3-1 over last 4.
It's only a matter of time before someone talks about a Bucs letdown game. I don't see it, because after a 1-3 start, the Bucs don't have the luxury of a letdown! The have some defensive issues for sure, and the Chargers tough run defense is going to be a bigger test for Doug Martin & Company.
The biggest risk of the Bucs losing is if Phillip Rivers & Company finally have a big coming out party and start lighting it up early and often. Against the Chargers defense, it would be asking a lot for the Bucs to win a shoot out game against the Chargers.
Taking the Bucs here. The Bucs are gelling and hitting their stride under Schiano, and Doug Martin is now a solid Rookie of the Year contender after a historic performance against the Raiders last week. Plus, as the Chargers work on a game plan to stop Doug Martin, look for it to open up the long ball with Josh Freeman taking multiple shots down field to his big targets: Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.
This is just my opinion and is only a partial list of considerations. It is in no way a recommendation.....I am NOT a pro capper. That said: GIVE ME THE BUCS -3 (-125)
BOL to all