2015 NFL Week 15 – Thursday night football – Bucaneers at Rams

When the season began, schedule makers likely envisioned this game being vital to the Rams’ postseason push. After all, the Bucs were coming off a 2-14 season and hadn’t even won a home game under head coach Lovie Smith. St. Louis came into the 2015 campaign with one of the most feared defensive units in the game, highlighted by top draft picks like Robert Quinn, Chris Long and Aaron Donald.

This was the year they were supposed to win at least 10 games, challenging the Seahawks and Cardinals for supremacy in the NFC West. It hasn’t happened. Quinn is on IR. Long has been injured. The Rams are 5-8. They’re not going to the playoffs.

Tampa Bay had a great shot to make this game important, but fell to New Orleans at home on Sunday to fall to 6-7. Their next loss will guarantee their exclusion from this year’s playoffs. They weren’t happy about it. Defensive line coach Joe Cullen and DT Gerald McCoy got into it. Head coach Lovie Smith got after his defense. Frustration bubbled over. “I have no issues with what happened on our sideline or how everyone reacted to that performance,” Smith said on Monday. “That was disappointment. Sometimes in disappointment, emotions come out a little bit. I have no issue with it at all. I really like it.”

Disappointing is an appropriate term for what happened to the Bucs at home against the Saints. The offense came up with a single first down in the first quarter in a sloppy penalty-filled game against the NFL’s worst defense. As a result, they wasted an opportunity to climb over .500 for the first time in three years, putting them in a situation where they’ll have to win out just to have a chance at a postseason berth.

Tampa Bay is 3-point underdog against the Rams in this one, which doubles as potentially the final NFL game in St. Louis if the franchise succeeds in finding a new home in Los Angeles. San Diego and Oakland would appear to be ahead in the race to move to L.A., but the Rams’ open flirtation with returning to the country’s second-largest city has fans that are already disappointed the fan base, especially since the team has underachieved.

In other words, don’t count on homefield advantage to make a difference here. St. Louis is actually 4-3 at home this season, which includes a season-opening win against Seattle. They will look to finish with a winning record at home after failing to do so last year.

They’ll ride with a backup in this one, going with Case Keenum, who helped the Rams win a contest they weren’t favored in last week WR Vincent Jackson suffered an MCL sprain and is likely done for the season, so Jameis Winston won’t have one of his most effective weapons available. Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin ranks second in the league in rushing (1,214 yards) and faces a depleted Rams run defense that is tied for 11th-worst, surrendering 115.9 yards per game. St. Louis rookie RB Todd Gurley ran for 140 yards and two scores in Sunday’s 21-14 win over Detroit and will be ready to play here despite banging knees late.

Both teams are playing their only primetime contest of the season. The Bucs haven’t won a night game since 2013, while the Rams are winless in them since ’12, losing their last four.

Total bettors following the Thursday night game this season have watched the ‘under’ produce a 10-4 (71%) record in this primetime slot and based on this week’s opening number (41 ½), it appears the oddsmakers are looking at another low-scoring affair.

December 18, 2015 by : Posted in NFL, Sportsbook No Comments

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