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Two top offensive rookies, Jameis Winston and Todd Gurley, will be on the field at the same time when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit the St. Louis Rams in a surprisingly compelling Thursday Night Football betting matchup.
The host Rams are listed as 1.5-point favorites against the Buccaneers at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Tampa Bay, which is two games behind Minnesota and Seattle in the NFC Wild Card race, is vying to end a seven-game losing streak against NFC West teams.
Tampa Bay, which is 6-7 SU and 7-6 ATS, has seen NFL No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston show modest improvement. Over the past four weeks, Winston has a 97.5 QB rating, although that was fashioned against the low-ranked Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Atlanta and New Orleans pass defenses.
Winston and his favorite targets such as WR Mike Evans, WR Vincent Jackson, TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and RB Charles Sims are facing a St. Louis unit that is mid-pack in most pass defense categories, despite a lack of offensive support and a tough schedule.
The Buccaneers are 0-4 ATS in their last four games against the Rams, and the visiting team is 3-8 SU in its last 11 games in this matchup. Tampa Bay will be matching up against Gurley with a Lavonte David-led run defense that allows just 3.4 yards per carry, second only to the Denver Broncos.
St. Louis, which is 5-8 SU and 5-7-1 ATS, are also 1-6 ATS in their last seven TNF games. The Rams are 2-9 SU in their last 11 games after a win, and their chances of improving in that regard will depend largely on whether CB Janoris Jenkins makes it through the concussion protocol.
Jenkins and CB Trumaine Johnson are a big reason why St. Louis actually gives up fewer yards per game to starting wide receivers than it does to tight ends and running backs.
The Rams have struggled due to their putrid passing game, which is dead last in yards (173/game), touchdown passes (8), yards per pass (6.0) and quarterback rating (69.2). The Rams might be able to get speedster WR Tavon Austin into favorable matchups. Gurley will have the challenge of trying to use his breakaway speed against a Buccaneers defense that has not allowed a rush of more than 21 yards.
The total for Thursday night’s Buccaneers vs. Rams betting matchup is set at 41 points at the sportsbooks. The total has gone UNDER in eight of the Buccaneers’ last 11 games on the road. The total has gone UNDER in eight of the Rams’ last nine games.
The OddsShark Computer is projecting a 25.8-18.7 Buccaneers victory.
Buccaneers vs. Rams pick: Buccaneers ATS & SU