The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of those teams that you don’t know if they are coming or going. They’ll get on a bit of a roll for a couple weeks then look completely lost the next. The Buccaneers are currently on one of those mini hot streaks, and will look to keep it going at home against the San Diego Chargers (1:00EST). The Chargers can’t say much themselves, as they’re another team that has had an inconsistent season so far. I don’t think much will change for either of these squads, they will continue to have their moments then fade away into the abyss. Both teams bring strong points to the table, but there are many question marks as well. I think this will have the makings of a fairly competitive battle from the start to the finish.
The Chargers have always been on the fringe, the potential is always there to make it to a Super Bowl, but they continually come up short. Talent has never really been the problem, because they have had playmakers over the years such as Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles, and of course quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers is the only player of that trio that is still with the Chargers, with Jackson departing in the offseason for the same team the Chargers will be playing in week 10, the Buccaneers. The offense has certainly seen in a dip in production, as Rivers has passed for just 1866 yards with a 233 yard average in 2012. Rivers has also added 12 touchdowns, but has thrown 10 interceptions as well. The lack of a superstar in the receiving core is definitely having an impact on Rivers. The Chargers have relied on an array of receivers including Malcolm Floyd and Danario Alexander. Not exactly household names, but if Antonio Gates can stay healthy the offense has the potential to be efficient. They rank 26th in terms of total team offense, absolutely horrible for a team that is consistently in the top-10. What is the cure for an inept offense, though? An inept defense.
And boy, are the Buccaneers bad on defense. Most notably against the pass, as they are now dead last in stopping opposing quarterbacks. The Bucs allow a whopping 321 yards per game through the air and some of those yards have been against bad passing teams. For instance, look at last week against the Oakland Raiders. The defense allowed 32 points with Carson Palmer passing for 414 yards and 4 touchdowns. You would think that the Buccaneers lost this game with just that comment alone. However, the Buccaneers have an offense that can keep up with the best of them. Quarterback Josh Freeman has gotten into a rhythm with former Charger Vincent Jackson, but that was to be expected as the season progressed. The real surprise here is the Buccaneers running game.
Rookie back Doug Martin out of Boise State has shown flashes of greatness for the Bucs thus far in 2012. Prior to the season there was no denying that the kid had talent, but no one quite expected the performances he has churned out in his rookie campaign. Last week against the Raiders he rushed for a jaw dropping 251 yards on 25 carries for a 10 yard average. Oh, and he added 4 touchdowns too, not too shabby. Martin now has 794 yards and 7 touchdowns for a 99 yard average per game. The Bucs offense currently sits at 9th in the league, putting up an impressive 28.9 points a game.
The Buccaneers will face a stiff test against the Chargers, however. Especially against the run, where they only allow 84 yards per game on the ground (4th). They are pretty good against the pass as well, currently the 9th best defense in that regard.
Chargers vs. Buccaneers Spread and Betting Odds:
San Diego Chargers +3 (-115)
@Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3 (-105)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Chargers vs. Buccaneers Pick:
What I see when I look at this game is one defense that is completely atrocious, and another that has the ability to play shut down football. It’s a little awkward viewing the Chargers as a defense team and not an offensive powerhouse, but that has been the case in 2012. With the Buccaneers trading their best playmaker on defense Aqib Talib away, there isn’t much to be desired on that side of the ball. The offense has held this team above water, but other than torching the Vikings, they have looked average against good defenses.
I think the Chargers stout defense against the run will stifle Doug Martin early. They will continue to feed him the ball, but he should get stood up throughout the afternoon. Note the teams that Martin has gouged and how they do against the run: Vikings (23rd), Raiders (19th), and Saints (32nd).
They also hold offenses at bay in the points department for the most part, 19.6 per game. I think Philip Rivers will be able to take advantage of a defense ranked 32nd in the NFL against the pass. Put Rivers up against a good defense and that’s a different story, but he will be able to feast off of the worst pass defense in the league in this one. I like the Chargers in this spot on the road catching points, take the 3 points.
PICK = Chargers +3