The Lions, led by one of the league's best offenses, host the Buccaneers' stingy defense in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
A Divisional round matchup between the Buccaneers and Lions has to be considered somewhat of a surprise. Although Detroit’s roster is loaded, this franchise had not won a playoff game since 1991 before their victory last weekend.
As for Tampa Bay, it was thought to be in rebuilding mode following the retirement of Tom Brady and expectations were extremely low going into Week 1.
Nonetheless, both teams have defied the odds to win a playoff game and one will win at least two to book a place in the NFC title game. Which one will it be?
|DET Lions -6.5
|Ford Field, Detroit, MI
|3 PM ET, Sunday, January 21
|How to watch
Detroit Lions -6.5
The Buccaneers are looking a little overrated on the back of clobbering the Philadelphia Eagles 32-9 in the Wild Card Round.
Just like the Bucs' claiming of the NFC South title, however, that result had a lot more to do with the opposition than it did with themselves.
By the time the playoffs rolled around, Philadelphia was a shadow of the team that once boasted a 10-1 record.
There should not be an overreaction to last weekend’s game. This Tampa Bay squad went a modest 9-8 in the regular season and just isn’t very good. It has already overachieved as a result of making it this far.
Now, head coach Todd Bowles’ team has to go on the road and face an opponent in much better shape than the Eagles. The Lions defeated a red-hot Los Angeles Rams club in the Wild Card round and would be on an overall five-game winning streak if not for a controversial 20-10 road loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17.
Detroit is clicking on both sides of the ball right now and should win on Sunday by at least a touchdown.
Under 48.5 points -110
The game total is set at a relatively high 48.5, mainly because the Lions’ offense is prolific.
This presents a good opportunity to find value on the under. These two teams went head-to-head in Week 6, when Detroit went on the road and won a defensive struggle 20-6.
The Lions have continued to play well defensively, so there is no reason to think that the Bucs will suddenly find success. Last weekend against Los Angeles, Detroit held the visitors to 23 points, a 3-for-9 effort on third downs and zero touchdowns in the red zone (0-for-3).
While Baker Mayfield and the offense could struggle, Tampa Bay’s defense is still a solid unit and especially adept against the run.
All things considered, this will likely be a lower-scoring game than expected.
Sam LaPorta over 39.5 receiving yards -110
Tampa Bay’s defense ranked 29th in the NFL in passing during the regular season, giving up 248.9 yards per contest, while it surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Look for Detroit TE Sam LaPorta to capitalize.
LaPorta gained only 14 yards last week against the Rams, although he did score a touchdown, but he was questionable to play due to a knee issue leading up to the game. He should be much closer to 100 percent this week.
LaPorta finished with 36 yards in his team’s regular-season win over the Bucs, but he was targeted a whopping 11 times. That bodes very well for his workload on Sunday.
The good news for the Buccaneers is that rejuvenated QB Baker Mayfield is probable as he nurses an ankle issue. However, WR Chris Godwin (knee), RB Chase Edmunds (toe) and LB duo Shaquil Barrett (ankle) and Yaya Diaby (shoulder) are all questionable.
Laporta (knee), S Kerby Joseph and CB Brian Branch are all probable to overcome their respective knee issues to play on Sunday, although C Frank Ragnow and WR Kalif Raymond are questionable with similar problems, as is LB Alex Anzalone (shoulder).
The Lions are clearly the better team on paper, but the playing field in the NFL is often neutralized by turnovers. If the Buccaneers can win the turnover battle, they will have a chance.
Detroit better be careful, too, because it finished with the same number of giveaways as takeaways in the regular season (23 each).
Tampa Bay, on the other hand, finished plus-8 (26 turnovers forced, 18 turnovers committed).
Tampa Bay averaged just 21 points per game during the regular season (19th in the NFL) and 319 yards per game (22nd). On the other side of the ball, the Buccaneers limited opponents to a modest 3.8 yards per rushing attempt.
Detroit ranked in the top five in points scored and yards gained. This matchup projects to see a high-powered offense collide with a tough defense.
|Buccaneers overall wins
|29 (0 this season)
|Lions overall wins
|32 (1 this season)
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.