Both teams come into this game with identical 4-7 overall records. The Buccanneers should get comfortable playing down south, as they begin a stretch of three games in four weeks against AFC South opponents. Meanwhile, Jacksonville is trying to snap a three-game losing skid after switching back to starter Nick Foles last week. Can the Jaguars get back on the winning track at home against Tampa Bay on Sunday?
Tampa Bay won for the second time in three games, taking down the Atlanta Falcons 35-22 despite opening the game as 3.5-point underdogs. Jameis Winston threw for 313 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions while receiver Chris Godwin hauled in seven passes for 184 yards and two scores, who had a couple of defensive players get into the endzone in the win. Defensive lineman Vita Vea caught a one-yard score while Ndamukong Suh scored on a six-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars were unable to stop the bleeding last week, losing their third straight game 42-20 against the division-rival Tennessee Titans. Foles finished 32-of-48 for 272 yards while Leonard Fournette ran for 97 yards and two scores on the day. What looked like a low-scoring affair turned into a blowout rather quickly after halftime, as Tennessee’s offense exploded for four touchdowns in six offensive plays to blow the game wide open. After the game, head coach Doug Marrone said that he was “pissed” and “embarrassed” following the team’s play in recent weeks. Foles has started each of the team’s past two games but the offense has sputtered during that span, scoring a total of 33 points against the Titans and Indianapolis Colts.
Winston’s up-and-down season continues for TB
The Buccaneers will have to make a decision on starting quarterback Jameis Winston at the end of the season. In what was supposed to be a make-or-break campaign, Winston has been tough to evaluate. He’s been awful on opening drives, leading the NFL with eight interceptions on his team’s first drive of the game.
Winston has also struggled against zone coverage, throwing 14 interceptions versus zone defenses and his 40.6 passer rating against the Cover 3 defense also represents the league’s worst mark. Fifteen of his league-high 24 turnovers have come inside his own 40-yard-line, which represents
Getting stops on defense has been a challenge for the Bucs this season. Shaquille Barrett leads the NFL in sacks but Tampa Bay has allowed 30.5 points per game this season, which ranks as the second-worst mark in the NFL. Since Winston came into the NFL in 2015, Tampa Bay has allowed a league-worst 26.5 yards per contest. However, they’ve been the second-best team in the NFL against the run, allowing just 78.7 yards per game and only 3.5 yards per carry.
Foles struggling since returning from injury
Tom Coughlin made a rare, midseason press conference to address the team’s struggles but things are starting to get dysfunctional within the organization. The move to Nick Foles hasn’t gone as smoothly as planned for the Jaguars, who have averaged just 16.5 points per game in his first two starts. Foles, who signed an $88 million deal as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, is 0-3 as a starter with his new team and another loss could spark a quarterback controversy in Jacksonville. Sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew performed admirably in Foles’ absence, leading the Jaguars to a 4-4 record while throwing for 2,225 yards, 13 touchdowns, and four interceptions.
Jacksonville’s run defense has been a major problem this season. The Jaguars rank 29th in the NFL, allowing 1,565 yards through 11 games on a league-worst 5.4 yards per carry. They come into the week allowing 24.0 points per game and 384.7 yards of total offense per contest. Over their last three games, all losses, Jacksonville has given up 33.6 points per game.
Jacksonville hasn’t looked good with Foles under center and the Buccanneers can stop the run, which could be a problem for them in this game. Winston has been careless with the football this season, which makes the Bucs hard to trust, especially on the road, but they should have the advantage in the slot. Look for Tampa Bay to neutralize Fournette and find Chris Godwin in the middle of the field en route to a victory on the road in Jacksonville on Sunday.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1
Full-Game Total Pick
Insiders Status: INACTIVE
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These two teams are pegged for 48 points but given the Jaguars’ recent play-calling, this could turn into a shootout. Foles has attempted 47 and 48 passes in the past two weeks and could approach that total again on Sunday. The Bucs are vulnerable through the air and Winston is fearless with the football. Tampa Bay has scored 30+ points in three of their last four contests. Take this game to go over the projected total on Sunday.
Prediction: Over 48
Written By Nick Raffoul
Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.