Following a blowout by the New Orleans Saints on Christmas Day, the day after promises to be an exciting day of football as well. There are three NFL games on Saturday, beginning with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions at Ford Field. The Lions don’t have a head coach to coach in this game. Well, they do, but interim head coach, Darrell Bevell, is out because of contact tracing. Along with Bevell, several assistants can’t be at the game as well. Going down the chain of command, the Lions will go with wide receiver coach, Robert Prince. Prince has no head coaching experience, but for a meaningless game that no one expects too much from the Lions in, it’s a good opportunity for Prince to coach with nothing to lose.
The Lions wanted to postpone this game because of their Covid-19 situation, but the NFL gave them the finger and directed the game to continue as scheduled on Saturday. After the league accommodated the Baltimore Ravens as best as they could, the Lions aren’t too thrilled with the game proceeding on Saturday. In any case, the Lions are professionals and have to do their job on Saturday afternoon. Do Lions’ fans really want the team to win anyway? The odds are stacked against them to begin with, even without the Covid-19 situation, the Lions were in a tough spot against the Buccaneers.
Detroit goes into Saturday with a record of 5-9 for dead last in the NFC North. The Minnesota Vikings are officially out of the playoffs with a big loss against the New Orleans Saints. That leaves the Chicago Bears with a better chance to reach the playoffs. The Green Bay Packers have already clinched the division and have their eyes set on the NFC. A big showdown at Lambeau Field awaits the Packers on Sunday Night Football against the Tennessee Titans. The conditions are going to be frigid and there could be some snow, so perfect for Green Bay in December.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can only improve their playoff seeding after the Saints clinched the NFC South. The Buccaneers are one of those teams that were expected to be a better team than 9-5, but should it be that surprising? We knew it was going to take some time for the Buccaneers to gel after a wacky offseason which prevented normal preparation. Brady was dealing with a new everything in Tampa, sans Rob Gronkowski, so not getting a full offseason for a guy that loves to do as much prep work as Brady. It goes without saying not to sleep on Brady in the playoffs. Head below for our free Buccaneers vs. Lions props for December 26, 2020.
Interim Head Coach Darrell Bevell, Defensive Coordinator Cory Undlin, Defensive Line Coach Bo Davis, Defensive Backs Coach Steve Gregory and Linebackers Coach Ty McKenzie will not coach in Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay due to COVID-19 protocols. pic.twitter.com/a173JJqAGF
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 24, 2020
Tom Brady Passing Yards
Tom Brady might not be the guy he used to be, but he still rates as one of the best in the NFL at the moment. Brady has passed for 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on 65.1% completions. He enters Detroit with 3,886 passing yards for fifth in the NFL. His 32 touchdowns is good for fourth.
Keep in mind that Brady is 43 years of age and still playing at this level. It seems if Brady wants to play past 45, he probably could in some form. Peyton Manning fell off a cliff on his last season, though, so one year makes a huge difference at this point. Brady is coming off a season-high 390 passing yards against the Atlanta Falcons.
He also threw 2 touchdowns for his second straight game without a turnover. It was the third game in his last five performances that Brady tossed more than 340 yards in a performance. With the Lions trying to postpone this game because of a lack of coaches. What kind of preparations do we believe they did for Brady and the Buccaneers?
The Lions’ secondary is not good, even with all of their coaches preparing. They’ve conceded 264.1 yards per game, with only five teams in the league worse than the Lions against the pass. This looks like a game where Brady pads the stats against a beatable secondary on Saturday at Ford Field.
Cameron Brate Receiving Yards
Tom Brady has always liked targeting his tight ends throughout his careers. Dating back to Jermaine Wiggins and Ben Watson with the Patriots early in his career, Brady liked to work the ball around to tight ends. The high point of that offensive philosophy was when Aaron Hernandez and Gronk were on the field together.
As good as Gronk was, I think Hernandez was coveted even more by Bill Belichick for his versatility, hence the big contract. They would have been an all-time duo in the NFL. What could have been for Hernandez and his career. In Tampa Bay, Brady gets an aging Gronk back and the younger Cameron Brate, though at 29, he feels younger than he is, at least compared to his teammates.
Brady has taken a liking to Brate this season. While Gronkowski has been used more as a blocking tight end, Brate has been effective as a receiver. That doesn’t mean he’s put up monster numbers, but we don’t need a monster performance to win this prop. Brate has recorded 25 receptions for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns.
He is coming off a season-high versus the Falcons, having caught 4 receptions for 54 yards. That is the second game in his last three that Brate has at least 4 receptions. In five of his previous six outings, Brate has recorded beyond 20 yards. This total looks a shade too low in my view.
Mohamad Sanu Receiving Yards
Mohamad Sanu was a failed experiment of Brady and Belichick last season in New England. Expected to give the offense a lift, Sanu didn’t work out in New England, nor did he find a role with the 49ers this season. Sanu has played in four games with the Lions following a trade with the 49ers. Lions tampered their expectations a bit on Sanu. They knew what they were getting with him. Sanu has recorded 13 receptions and 152 yards and a touchdown.
Matthew Stafford has targeted him plenty, with 13 targets in four games. He has caught every ball thrown in his direction so far. Note that Sanu has had at least 32 yards receiving in every game with the Lions. In his previous three outings, Sanu has gone for 36, 37, and 38 yards. Stafford is likely going to have to keep passing to keep up with the Bucs on Saturday afternoon. That should enable Sanu to have a good chance of receiving more than 31 yards in his fifth consecutive start with the Lions.