Chargers vs. Bucs Betting Guide: Odds & A Spread Pick For Sunday’s Game
Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady
- Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host rookie quarterback Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4.
- Our NFL betting analyst Mike Randle examines the odds and explains why there's value on the Bucs to cover the spread as 7.5-point favorites.
Chargers vs. Buccaneers Odds
Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert has been thrust into the starting role as a result of injury to veteran Tyrod Taylor. The University of Oregon product has performed better than expected despite two losses. But how will Herbert handle the long trip to the East coast, where he will face the resistance put forth by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense?
I think he’ll struggle. Let’s examine why.
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles will be dealing with significant injuries on both sides of the ball.
The Chargers will be without starting wide receiver Mike Williams (hamstring), forcing them to rely heavily on veteran Keenan Allen. In Week 3, Allen posted the overall WR3 game in fantasy with 19 targets from Herbert. Now Allen will be the focus of a Buccaneers defense that’s allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. With the absence of Williams’ deep threat, Allen’s 72nd-ranked yards per target average (7.2) indicates he’ll again need heavy volume to make a significant impact on offense.
Los Angeles is also dealing with several defensive injuries. The Chargers will be without defensive end Melvin Ingram, defensive tackle Justin Jones and cornerback Chris Harris. Making things worse, All-Pro defensive tackle Joey Bosa was limited in practice this week with both triceps and ankle injuries.
Finally, right guard Bryan Bulaga (back) and right tackle Trai Turner (groin) have been ruled out for Sunday, which will make things difficult against a strong Tampa Bay defensive front.
The Chargers’ ground game will face its stiffest test of the season against a Buccaneers defense that’s allowed running back averages of just 2.4, 3.6 and 3.0 yards per carry through the first three weeks. This will limit the upside of rookie rusher Joshua Kelley, which will put extra emphasis on the pass-catching prowess of Austin Ekeler. The Buccaneers have allowed the fourth-most receiving yards to opposing running backs, but that’s greatly skewed by facing Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey over the first two weeks.
Herbert was impressive in his initial start against a Kansas City defense that had prepared for veteran Tyrod Taylor in Week 2. But then against a poor Carolina defense last week, Herbert took a step backward. He was able to lead the offense to only 16 points against a defense in the NFL’s bottom four in both pass and run efficiency. He fumbled twice (losing one), threw an interception and mustered only one touchdown through the air.
Playing on the road against one of the NFL’s best defenses represents a big jump in difficulty for Herbert.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers are starting to come together as a team after consecutive wins over the Panthers and Broncos, outscoring the pair by a combined 59-27 points.
The Buccaneers offense will be without leading wide receiver Chris Godwin, who left Week 3 with a hamstring injury. Fortunately, Tampa Bay will still have wideout Mike Evans — who is tied for a league-leading four receiving touchdowns — and competent slot receivers Scotty Miller and Justin Watson.
Head coach Bruce Arians is now forced to return the lead running back duties to Ronald Jones after Leonard Fournette (out) suffered an ankle injury during the fourth quarter of last week’s game in Denver. However, before the injury, Fournette had totaled only 15 yards on seven attempts (2.1 yards per carry) in the game. Jones was the more explosive runner against the Broncos, and has a chance to restore the faith in all his preseason truthers (myself included).
Both Tampa Bay tight ends have the potential for big games on a weekly basis. O.J. Howard ranks third in average target distance (11.7) and fifth in yards per route run (2.23) at the position. Veteran Rob Gronkowski saw his snap share rise to a season-high 88.9% in Week 3 while finishing as the overall TE11 in fantasy.
The Buccaneers defense has been one of the NFL’s best so far this season. They rank third against the pass, fifth against the run and second overall in Football Outsiders’ DVOA while allowing the fourth-fewest yards per game. Tampa Bay is also tied for second in the league in interceptions (four) as well as third in the league with 13 sacks.
This line opened at Tampa Bay -4.5 and has risen throughout the week to Tampa Bay -7.
Both teams are limited, but the defensive advantage lies with the Bucs. The Chargers defense, while ranking fourth in points allowed and eighth in yards allowed, simply do not force turnovers. In 2019, Los Angeles recorded a franchise-low 14 turnovers and have not forced one since Week 1.
The Buccaneers still have plenty of offensive weapons for Tom Brady and their defense will force Herbert into multiple turnovers.
I’m laying the seven points with the Buccaneers and would bet this up to 7.5.
Pick: Buccaneers -7 (up to -7.5)