2002 Season NFL Football Past Picks

January 12, 2003

This pick was released to clients on August 13, 2012 at 5:14PM ET.


San Francisco at Tampa Bay

Sunday 01/12 01:00 PM Eastern

4 units on Tampa Bay -6 (-110) (risk 4 to return 7.64)  RESULT: WIN

San Francisco pulled off the miracle last week. The Giants would be playing if Shockey caught that easy 4th quarter touchdown or… they could get one good snap or… the holder threw the ball away or… the refs made an obvious PI call or…. Well –you get the picture. San Francisco is lucky to be playing this weekend and for their luck they are rewarded with going on the road against one of the top three teams in the league. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Niners or the Giants - either one would get beat pretty easily by Tampa Bay. In fact, I am glad San Francisco won because I think they are the weaker team right now and should make this cover an easier one.

The reasons are numerous…

Tampa Bay has the # 1 defense in the league, allowing just 12.3 points per game. The Bucs will not allow Jeff Garcia to scramble his way to an improbable win as the Giants did. Tampa Bay allows an incredibly low 5.5 yards per pass attempt (the other seven teams in the playoffs average 6.6!). I think Garcia will have a very difficult and frustrating day. He loves to scramble to make plays happen. He won’t be able to do this against Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice and Derrick Brooks. This will force him out of his game and cause errors.

Hard hitting Pro Bowl safety John Lynch won’t let Terrell Owens have his way. And, Tampa won’t be surprised by a no-huddle offense if it comes out. The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl a few years back with a defense like this and a much worse offense than what Tampa Bay has (with Brad Johnson at the helm).

Tampa’s one weakness is their mediocre running game. A healthy Brad Johnson is critical for a Tampa Bay win. Without him at QB, the Bucs put up 11 points per game. With him, they put up over 23. He claims to be in perfect shape and better rested than he has been all season. I think this line would be much higher if Johnson finished the regular season as the Bucs would have beaten Pittsburgh and finished the season on a 4-game win streak.

The Niners took advantage of their home field advantage to find a way to come back last week. This week they will have no such luxury. If they get down, they are history. If the 49ers become one dimensional, the Bucs will register a half a dozen sacks and get a few picks.

In addition, the Bucs qualify for a trend involving teams that perform very well during the regular season against teams that do not that is 27-12 ATS (6-2 the last three years).

The Bucs should be favored by over a touchdown in this game. My power ratings make them a 10 point favorite yet we are only laying 5.5. San Francisco shouldn’t be here. Tampa Bay definitely belongs. Take Tampa to open up a big ole can o’ whoop ass on the Niners.



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