Colts vs. Buccaneers Betting Picks, Predictions & Odds: The Mismatch That Could Swing This Game
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Chris Godwin, Peyton Barber
- Our experts preview the Week 14 NFL matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Find analysis of the betting odds, expert picks on the spread and much more below.
Colts at Buccaneers Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds
- Odds: Buccaneers -3
- Over/Under: 47
- Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: CBS
Odds as of Wednesday morning and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers have been one of the surprise teams of the second half of the season, even if they’ll likely miss the playoffs. The Colts, meanwhile, are still in contention for the AFC South despite a tough loss to the Titans last week.
Our experts preview this matchup, featuring analysis of the biggest mismatch and a staff pick.
Colts-Buccaneers Injury Report
Which team is healthier? Bucs
The most noteworthy injuries on the Bucs’ report involve defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) and linebacker Anthony Nelson (hamstring). JPP is second on the team in sacks while Nelson grades out as their best run defender, per Pro Football Focus.
The Colts are expected to be without T.Y. Hilton (calf) yet again. They also placed Chester Rogers (knee) on injured reserve earlier in the week, making their receiver group even thinner. Marlon Mack (hand) returned to full practice on Thursday, so he has a real chance to play on Sunday it appears.
Although it’s a difficult matchup against this run defense, it may be a slight boost if Nelson is ruled out. Also of note, safety Malik Hooker (foot) was downgraded from limited practice on Wednesday to no practice on Thursday. — Justin Bailey
Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.
Buccaneers Run Defense vs. Colts’ Backfield
The Buccaneers’ run defense has been one of the most consistent units all season. Per Football Outsiders, they’ve been 31.2% better on every single play when compared to league average based on situation and opponent.
They’ve continually stifled opposing running backs, regardless of ability. There’s no greater example than holding Christian McCaffrey to 68 rushing yards (1.79 yards per carry) over two meetings. And last week, they limited Leonard Fournette to 38 yards (2.7 YPC) in a 28-11 road win.
While the Colts’ rushing offense ranks sixth-most efficient, the Indianapolis backfield has been decimated by injuries.
Last week, the lead running back combination of Jordan Wilkins and Jonathan Williams managed only 61 rushing yards on 19 carries at home against the Titans. Tampa Bay’s run defense is even better than Tennessee’s, and this matchup is on the road.
The return of Mack should help the Colts running game slightly, but they’re facing their most difficult test all season. Tampa Bay has not only allowed the fewest rushing yards, but also the sixth-fewest receiving yards to opposing backfields.
If the Colts are going to earn a vitally important win for their playoff hopes, they will need to attack Tampa Bay’s defense through the air. — Mike Randle
Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds
- Projected Spread: Bucs -1.5
- Projected Total: 49
This total opened at 49.5 and has dropped all the way down to 47. I can’t really explain the drastic line move given 61% of the money has come in on the over (see live public betting data here) and there doesn’t appear to be any weather concerns this week.
The Bucs defense is arguably the most extreme pass funnel in the league, and the Colts play a soft zone defense that can be attacked by the Bucs — especially with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. So I actually think this matchup plays to the over. In fact this total has dropped two points below my projection.
Still, only two out of my three criteria have been met, so this is only a lean as of now. — Sean Koerner
Sean Zerillo: Buccaneers -3
I have always found it fitting that Winston gets to wear red and black for the Buccaneers, because whether I bet on or against him I always feel like I’m spinning a roulette wheel.
Even still, I’m buying high on Tampa Bay this week after two consecutive wins, because its defense has really come to hand under Todd Bowles, who is probably more of an overqualified defensive coordinator than he was an under-qualified head coach of the Jets.
Reunited with Bruce Arians, Bowles has a defense that ranks No. 9 overall in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, thanks to a No. 1 ranking in run defense (19th against the pass), which spells trouble for the Colts power run game behind Mack.
The Colts offense has struggled when Hilton has missed time (1-7 record in his career) and a season-ending injury to Chester Rogers leaves Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell (coming off injury) as the starting receivers, with Ashton Dulin, Chad Williams and Marcus Johnson as the depth.
Campbell and Mack are being thrust back into the lineup for this fading Colts team out of necessity; but this is a nightmare matchup for Mack, and the Colts don’t have the firepower to keep up with the Bucs offense if they fall behind.
If Winston can avoid multiple turnovers, the Bucs should roll.
Go ahead and spin the wheel.
Sean Zerillo is 195-131-4 (59.8%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.