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NFL Game of the Week: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts


NFL Game of the Week: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts

Inform your NFL predictions ahead of the biggest matches this season with Mark Taylor's Game of the Week. Week 12 sees NFC South leaders the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to AFC South outfit the Indianapolis Colts.

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis: Odds at a glance

Market

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Indianapolis Colts

Money Line

1.632*

2.420*

Handicap

-2.5 - 1.775*

-2.5- 2.160*

Total Team Points

Over 26.5 - 1.694*

Over 24.5 - 2.050*

Total Game Points

Over 52 - 1.970*
Under 52 - 1.925*

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis: Can the Colts maintain their recovery?

No team have personified the chaotic nature of this NFL season thus far more than the Indianapolis Colts. After winning just one of their opening five games, their postseason participation prospects had fallen to a 20% likelihood by the start of Week 6. However, they then took advantage of an easier schedule that included visits from the Texans, the Jets, and the Jaguars to propel themselves to a 6-5 win-loss record.

The Tennessee Titans currently lead the AFC South with an 8-3 record, meaning projections offer the Colts just an approximate 10% chance of winning the division. However, they are nonetheless handily placed in the AFC standings - currently sitting in ninth amongst a group of teams who could all potentially earn a Wildcard spot.

The Colts had not beaten a side with a winning record until they demolished the Buffalo Bills 41-15 last week, and this is partially because quarterback Carson Wentz has endured a mixed campaign so far. He has thrown 0.3 of a yard per attempt below the average allowed by defences he has faced and is ranked mid-table for NFL passers.

His performances have been very good against sides with losing records, but less impressive against better teams. Most tellingly, he has turned the ball over a career-low six times in 11 games this season, contributing to the league’s best turnover differential of +15. However, while any team that wins the turnover battle often goes on to win the game, such overperformance is rarely sustainable and the Colts’ impressive turnover rate is likely to become less extreme during the remaining weeks of the regular season.

Even if this happens, they still have a top-five running offence to power their ongoing recovery. They rush for an impressive one yard per attempt further than the average allowed by the defences they have faced and Jonathan Taylor ran for four touchdowns and 5.8 yards per carry in last week’s resounding win against Buffalo.

The Colts do not over-rely on the ground game and slightly favour passes in their run/pass numerical split. Defensively, they are ranked 12th overall, with more concerns against the pass than the run. They have somewhat kept points off the board, allowing teams who score 22.3 points per game to maintain that average, although their aforementioned turnover rate has also helped on the defensive side of the ball.

While Buffalo were soundly beaten by the Colts, going forward Wentz will likely be required to complete more than the 11 successful passes he achieved in that easy win and defending Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay will naturally provide a much more formidable test.

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis: Brady’s brilliance

Tampa Bay have had to face their own struggles, turning in successive losses either side of their bye week in Week 9 after a strong 6-1 start to the campaign. They returned to winning ways last time out against the fading New York Giants, a match in which Tom Brady was reunited with his favourite target Rob Gronkowski following the latter’s six-week injury-led absence.

Tampa Bay are currently ranked third in the NFC behind the Cardinals and the Packers, with postseason participation all but assured, but work is still to be done if they are to claim a bye spot for the playoffs. The ageless Brady sits at or near the top of all quarterback ratings and has thrown for 0.6 yards per attempt further than the defensive average of the teams he has faced.

Their ground game is also impressive and both the protection and ability to find targets Brady offers is excellent, even with injuries and a higher interception rate compared to his career average. Indeed, their offence scores a touchdown more per game compared to the concession rates of their opponents.

There is also little respite from Brady’s relentless throws. Tampa Bay go aerial with 67% of their snaps, thereby forcing opponents to go head-to-head with the Buccaneers’ above average pass defence, which is complemented by an even better run defence.

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis: Projections

Projections give the Buccaneers a three-point advantage over the hosting Colts with a predicted scoreline of 31-28. Tampa Bay should be able to rely on their preferred offensive strategy and perform well against the Colts’ passing defence.

By contrast, the Colts have relied on a league-leading but ultimately unsustainable turnover differential, and bearing in mind they have lost to every team tipped for postseason action that they have played by a sizeable margin, Tampa Bay to cover their Handicap could easily prove a reliable bet.

Get great NFL odds on numerous markets for every game this season with Pinnacle.

*Odds subject to change

 



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