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Tampa Bay Bucs vs Arizona Cardinals: Sunday Night Football Week 16 preview, picks, top prop bets, more

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Tom Brady retiring
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) leaves the field after an NFL football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. The Cincinnati Bengals won 34-23. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

The Tampa Bay Bucs look to hold onto their NFC South lead when they take on the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night. 

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Tampa Bay Bucs (6-8) at Arizona Cardinals (4-9) 

Game Details:

  • Location: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ
  • Time: Sunday, December 25th at 8:15 p.m. ET
  • Channel: NBC

Betting Stats:

  • MONEYLINE: TB ML (-365), AZ ML (+285)
  • SPREAD: TB -7.5
  • OVER/UNDER: 40.5

Preview:

Welcome to another primetime game that looked better on paper in August. Tampa Bay and Arizona have both underperformed this season, but Tampa still sits atop the NFC South with a 6-8 record and has the edge on the rest of the division to make the NFL postseason. Which is kind of depressing when you imagine that they could actually host a playoff game. 

Both offenses have disappointed this year with the Tampa Bay Bucs coming into the game 26th in the league in scoring rate, while the Cardinals are 24th. 

A lot of that struggle for Tampa Bay has been because of the running game. Tampa is the worst rushing team in the NFL by a significant margin, averaging just 74.3 rushing yards per game and an atrocious 3.3 yards per carry.  

Part of that is due to myriad offensive line injuries that occurred before the season, but Leonard Fournette has also not looked like the same player. On the season, he has just 568 yards and three touchdowns on 3.6 yards per carry. The Bucs have started to mix in rookie Rachaad White, but he is much farther along as a pass catcher than a runner right now and has only chipped in 408 rushing yards on 3.8 yards per carry. 

As a result, Tampa Bay is a pass-heavy offense, which shouldn’t surprise us with Tom Brady under center. They are 4th in the league in passing yards per game with 268.4 as Brady has thrown for 3,897 yards and 20 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. Yet, the explosive plays have not been there. The Bucs are just 31st in the NFL in yards per completion with 9.5 yards. The only team worse than them?

The Arizona Cardinals. 

Even before losing Kyler Murray in Week 14 to a torn ACL, the Cardinals were not a high-powered or effective offense. They come into Sunday’s game ranked 18th in the NFL in passing yards per game and have given up the 8th-most sacks. Since the Bucs are 6th in the NFL with 40 sacks, that could be a problem on Sunday night.

With Colt McCoy suffering a concussion in last week’s game, the Cardinals will turn to 27-year-old third-string quarterback Trace McSorley to make his first NFL start. The 2019 sixth-round pick has a decent opportunity here against a Tampa Bay secondary that has been pretty strong this year despite injuries, allowing the second-fewest yards per completion and fifth-fewest yards per game through the air. 

Should McSorley take to the air, he does have two solid receiving options in DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown. Hopkins leads the Cardinals with 63 catches for 713 yards and three touchdowns in eight games, while Brown has chipped in 584 yards on 57 catches with three touchdowns in his nine games. 

It would make sense for Arizona to lean on the running game with McSorley under center, but they’re 20th in the NFL in rushing yards per game and 17th in yards per carry. James Conner has also been hobbled by a few injuries this year and has just 624 yards and six touchdowns on 4.1 yards per carry this season. 

Even though this Bucs team has underperformed, they’re 7th in the NFL in opponents’ scoring rate, so it’s hard to see Arizona putting up too many points with McSorley under center. 

Pick:

Tampa Bay 23         Arizona 13

 

Player Props:

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Mike Evans OVER 57.5 receiving yards 

We discussed above that Tampa Bay will likely be throwing often on Sunday night, especially against a pass defense that ranks 24th in passing yards allowed per game. Arizona doesn’t allow too many big plays, but Evans doesn’t really need to hit one to clear 58 receiving yards. He’s had nine targets in three of his last four games and turned that into 83 yards last week against the Bengals. I expect the same here.  

SPORTSBOOK: Bet at DraftKings (-115)

 

Trace McSorley UNDER 193.5 passing yards

We mentioned above that Tampa Bay has the second-fewest yards per completion and fifth-fewest yards per game through the air. They’re also the 10th-ranked pass defense by DVOA and allow just 194.5 passing yards per game, so I find it hard to believe McSorley can hit over the prop when Joe Burrow threw for just 200 yards last week. 

SPORTSBOOK: Bet at Draftkings (-120)

 

James Conner OVER 67.5 rushing yards

Arizona is starting a third-string quarterback, so it already made sense to assume they would lean on the run but Tampa Bay’s stud defensive tackle Vita Vea has also been ruled out for this game, which is a major downgrade to their run defense. All of that makes me think we’re going to see a lot of James Conner on Sunday night.

SPORTSBOOK: Bet at FANDUEL (-113)

For more NFL coverage, like this Bucs and Cardinals preview, visit amNY Sports

James Conner and the Cardinals take on the Bucs
Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) scores a touchdown as Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. (9) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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