A rare, but certainly welcome Saturday night game greets NFL fans in Week 15 as the reeling Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to play spoiler for a desperate Dallas Cowboys squad. Both teams are coming off embarrassing defeats in their past game and will look to get back on track with a big victory.
For the Cowboys, once again mired in a competitive playoff race, but one in which they should’ve dealt with long ago. Dallas has been pretty good this season, much better than their mediocre 7-6 record would indicate. Their only problem has been holding onto leads late in games, as 8 of their 9 losses under Jason Garret have come when Dallas is leading in the 4th quarter. That is a mind-boggling trend and one in which Dallas must avoid in a pivotal clash against the Bucs. Dallas has lost their lead running back in DeMarco Murray, but Felix Jones remains capable and should be able to carry the load. This should be an angry team entering Tampa Bay come Saturday, knowing all too well this playoff race should’ve been secured weeks ago, and it will be interesting to see how they respond.
On the other side of the football, Tampa Bay has been abysmal this season showing nowhere near the amount of promise they exuded in 2010. Ever since their trip to England, the wheels have completely fallen off and if getting blown out by the Jaguars isn’t hitting rock bottom, I’m not quite sure how much further they can sink. It will be intriguing to assess Tampa Bay’s motivation in this contest, especially with rumors circulating about players being unhappy with coach Raheem Morris and his handling of certain players.
Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Spread, Line, and Betting Odds:
Dallas Cowboys -7 (-110)
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7 (-110)
Over 47 (-110)
Under 47 (-110)
Cowboys vs Buccaneers Pick:
This is a match-up Dallas simply has to win. Back-to-back blown games against Arizona and the Giants have left very bitter tastes in the mouths of the Cowboys and this is undoubtedly a must-win contest. Though they’re on the road, expect Dallas to have a large travelling contingent of fans in Tampa, and look for Dallas to use this to their advantage en route to a decisive victory. They are the better team in all aspects and it’s crazy this squad is only 7-6 despite how well they’ve played during this season. Going up against and unmotivated, disinterested, and plain awful Buccaneers team is the perfect remedy for a Dallas team coming off these bad losses, desperately seeking a return to the win column.
Despite the big loss of DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones is more than capable of filling in. Add in the fact that the return of Tony Fiammetta last week really enhances the run game, and look for the Cowboys to dominate the Bucs in this regard. The prolific Dallas offense has a sweetheart match-up against a very soft Tampa Bay defense. The Bucs rank 29th overall in the NFL, and a brutal 28th defending the run. Felix Jones and Fiammetta should punish a weak front-seven, and open passing lanes for Romo to go deep to his wealth of talented receivers in Bryant, Austin, Robinson, and Witten.
Simply put, the Cowboys are the much better team with much higher motivation. I seriously question the motivation of this Tampa squad, and going against one of the best teams in the league in a game they must win, this could get ugly in a hurry. Tampa Bay has unravelled, losing seven games in a row, while second-year quarterback Josh Freeman only seems to have regressed. It’s a brutal situation at the moment for the Bucs, and facing an angry Cowboys team will be no easy feat.
Dallas enters 4-1 against the spread in this series of late and don’t look for that trend to fail come Saturday night. A classic mismatch in every facet of football, and only having to lay a touchdown with a much hungrier, and superior Cowboys squad could be an early Christmas gift. Take the Cowboys in a romp.
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