Buccaneers vs. Cardinals Week 16 matchup preview and current betting lines
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are about the only team who could lose by double digits at home to fall to 6-8 and still improve their odds of winning the division. That is the state of the NFC South in 2022 where the other teams are all 5-9.
The Arizona Cardinals (4-10) are even more disappointing and will be starting their third-string quarterback, Trace McSorley. In the last two weeks, Kyler Murray tore his ACL and Colt McCoy suffered a concussion. It just has been that kind of year for Arizona.
The Bucs do not necessarily have to win this game with the rest of the division serving as underdogs this weekend, and they have two division games left to close the season. But they are a heavy road favorite with the NFL Week 16 odds liking Tampa Bay by 7.5 points in a game with a total of 40.5 points.
There are still some talented players on Arizona, including James Conner, J.J. Watt, and DeAndre Hopkins, and head coach Kliff Kingsbury likely needs a good finish to make sure he still has his job for 2023. We will see if the Cardinals can at least make it interesting enough to cover, because it is not like the Buccaneers have been blowing teams out. They have scored 24 points in one game all season. Even the Cardinals have done that six times.
Players to watch in the Buccaneers vs. Cardinals game
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chris Godwin: He has 17 more catches than anyone on the Buccaneers, though he is averaging a career-low 9.7 yards per catch coming off the torn ACL last December. But Godwin has been hot down the stretch with three touchdowns in his last five games. He caught all eight of his targets against the Bengals for 83 yards. He wasn’t the problem in that game.
James Conner: All James Conner does is score touchdowns. He wasn’t doing it early in the season, but he has scored in five straight games, looking like the back that had 18 touchdowns in 2021. The Buccaneers are not elite against the run like they used to be, so Conner is going to have to do his best to help limit how much Trace McSorley has to do in his first start.
Our Best NFL Bets for the Buccaneers vs. Cardinals game
We have two NFL Week 16 predictions for this NFC matchup to close out Sunday’s action.
Buccaneers vs. Cardinals Point Spread Pick: Buccaneers -7.5 (-110)
The Buccaneers vs. Cardinals spread opened with the Buccaneers as a 3-point road favorite before blowing up to 7.5 once the Cardinals decided McSorley would be the starter.
For as bad as this season has been for Tampa Bay, blowing a game to the No. 32 scoring defense with a third-string quarterback making his first start would be the lowest point yet. There’s also the fact that Arizona is 12-19 ATS at home under Kingsbury, one of the worst records in the league in that time. This team rarely steps up at home.
McSorley was a sub-60% passer at Penn State. He has already thrown three interceptions on his 39 pass attempts in the NFL. Look for Todd Bowles to blitz him relentlessly and take advantage of miscues. The Buccaneers have not had multiple takeaways in a game since Week 3, but this is a good spot for that streak to end.
On the other side of the ball, Tampa needs to stop turning the ball over. That is now nine giveaways in the last three games, and Tom Brady has accounted for seven of them. He can just get by playing a conservative game in this one and the Buccaneers will likely still score enough to cover.
Arizona has failed to eclipse 15 points in three of the last four games. Without Murray, they lose that edge of a mobile quarterback. Without McCoy, they lose that edge of an experienced starter who can take what the defense gives them. Unless J.J. Watt is going to strip-sack Brady a few times in a spirited performance, it just does not look likely that the Cardinals will be able to score enough to hang for four quarters.
Tampa -7.5 would have been a losing bet 12 weeks in a row. The Bucs have not won a game by more than six points since the first two games of the season. But they looked competent in the first half against the Bengals last week before imploding with turnovers. Look for them to clean that up against an inferior opponent this week and cover for your NFL bet of the week.
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Cardinals Prop: James Conner Anytime Touchdown Scorer (+130)
Tampa Bay has a few different options for touchdown scorers, but the Cardinals are basically Conner or bust at this point of the season. Zach Ertz was lost to injury, so they lose their favorite tight end in the red zone. Murray’s injury takes him away as a running option. DeAndre Hopkins is not having one of his best seasons.
Conner has scored Arizona’s only touchdown in each of the last two games, and he has six of the last nine touchdowns overall for the team. That goes back to November 13 against the Rams.
Tampa Bay has only allowed nine rushing touchdowns this year, but Conner has the ability to score on a reception too. We have already seen Christian McCaffrey (49ers), Najee Harris (Steelers), and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Chiefs) score on pass plays against this Tampa Bay defense. Conner just caught a touchdown against the Chargers three games ago.
Besides, it is Christmas. You can trust J.C. to deliver.bet on NFL with betmgm
Frequently asked questions about the Buccaneers vs. Cardinals game in Week 16
The game is being played at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Not great, Bob. In 2022, the Buccaneers are last in the league with a 3-10-1 ATS record. If they finish 3-13-1 ATS, it would be the worst record in the 32-team era (2002-present).
Since 2020 with Tom Brady at quarterback, the Buccaneers are 11-15 ATS on the road (ranked 27th), 20-24-1 ATS as a favorite (ranked 15th), and 9-13 ATS as a road favorite (ranked 20th).