Tampa Bay At Indianapolis (-3; 46.5) is a must win game for both teams, yet only one team risks being eliminated from playoff contention with a loss.
Both teams are 5-5 but the Indianapolis Colts are tied for first place in the AFC South. The Colts must win because, after today's matchup, their remaining schedule features their three division rivals. All three opponents are vying for the division title. The Colts face two other AFC teams in play for the Wild Card.
For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: lose this game and they can conceivably pack it in for the year. Though they will not be mathematically eliminated, they would be reliant on too many scenarios - losses - by other teams.
After this game, the Bucs too will face their three division rivals. By the time they face the Chicago Bears, the Bucs will either be out of playoff contention or have more control of their destiny.
Instead of getting too deep into each of today's teams scenarios, let's just say I see the Colts going 2-3 after today, and the Bucs 3-2.
For today's matchup, it really depends on which Bucs offense shows up, specifically Quarterback Jameis Winston. He is experiencing the normal adjustment that rookies face. Winston has thrown 15 TouchDowns and 9 Interceptions. The TouchDown numbers are spiked due to last week's game versus the Philadelphia Eagles when he threw 5 TDs. Otherwise he would have thrown almost as many TDs as INTs.
The good fortune for the Bucs is that they are second in the NFL in Rushing yards. They will face a Colts defense that is near the bottom in Passing and Rushing Yards, while giving up 24.8 points game.
Facing the Colts, scoring 21 points should be a given for the Bucs, who are 4-1 when their defense holds a team to under 21 points.
The question: Can Tampa Bay hold Indianapolis to under 21 points?
The Indianapolis Colts have scored 21+ points in 7 of their 10 games. With backup Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck at the helm, the Colts are 3-0 and he will start in place of the injured Andrew Luck.
What does this mean for the Bucs? It means Tampa Bay should take the air out of the ball and limit the Colts' possessions because in a high scoring game, the odds are with the Colts.
So, I take the Bucs (OVER). Pick wisely, come back for Monday's pick and until then see whether the Colts' home becomes Buc'town.