Free NFL Picks: Cardinals at Buccaneers Week 4 Odds
by Alan Matthews - 9/26/2013
There's not much argument that the three best games on Sunday in the NFL's Week 4 would be Seattle at Houston, Philadelphia at Denver and New England at Atlanta. All six of those teams could be in the playoffs this winter, although the Eagles and Falcons have to improve. However, the point of these previews isn't to look at the NFL's powerhouses every week, and there will be plenty of opportunities to do Seahawks, Broncos and Patriots games the rest of the way.
I'm choosing 1-2 Arizona at 0-3 Tampa Bay, which isn't exactly must-see TV. Shoot, I'm not sure the Bucs will sell the game out to avoid a local blackout. However, Tampa Bay made the biggest news of this week when embattled coach Greg Schiano did a 180. On Monday, Schiano said struggling quarterback Josh Freeman was his starting quarterback. On Wednesday, Schiano benched Freeman in favor of third-round rookie Mike Glennon. So perhaps Sunday is the start of a Bucs rebirth under Glennon or the final days of Schiano's tenure because he has clearly latched his job security to the big rook.
Cardinals at Bucs Betting Story Lines
Freeman and Schiano haven't been on the same page for a while, with reports Schiano rigged the team's voting for captain to assure Freeman didn't get it -- it's rare a QB isn't named a team captain. Freeman also missed the team photo, saying he overslept. The 2009 first-round pick out of Kansas State had shown signs of potential stardom in the past. In 2010, he threw for 3,451 yards with 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Any NFL team would take those numbers. Last year, Freeman had one six-game stretch where he looked like one of the Top-10 QBs in the league (16 TD passes, three picks), and the Bucs were 5-1 in that run.
However, since then Freeman has been mostly awful, and the Bucs are 1-8. An average QB completes around 60 percent of his passes in the NFL. Freeman hasn't completed 56 percent in any of his past eight games. He hasn't even reached 50 in three games this season, completing 45.7 percent for two touchdowns and three interceptions. His rating of 59.3 is the worst in the NFL as are his 190 yards per game for any QB who has started every week. The Bucs have some major talent on offense, led by running back Doug Martin and receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, but they rank ahead of only Jacksonville in total yards and those same Jags in points per game (11.3).
Simply on performance, it probably was time for a change, and it seems likely Freeman never starts again. He already has asked for a trade, and the Bucs want him gone. Some team will take a flier when its starter goes down injured, even with Freeman set to become a free agent this offseason -- the trade deadline is Oct. 29. Schiano shouldn't have said what he did on Monday only to change course two days later. The coach's status in the locker room is already rather iffy. You can be an a**hole dictator-type coach if you are winning, a la Bill Parcells. Schiano doesn't have those credentials.
Glennon is a big guy at 6-foot-7 and has a powerful arm, thus seemingly a good fit in the Bucs' vertical passing scheme. He's about as immobile as they come, however. The Bucs are doing this now because Glennon gets a start under his belt heading into the bye week. The former NC State star didn't exactly light it up in the preseason, going 33-for-70 for three touchdowns and three picks.
As for the Cardinals, they opened with a loss in St. Louis in a game they could have won, beat the Lions 25-21 in their lone home game and then looked terrible last week in a 31-7 loss at New Orleans. Arizona managed 247 total yards against a Saints defense that set an NFL record for yards allowed in 2012. To be fair, that unit is a ton better this year. Carson Palmer has been OK in his first season in the desert. He wasn't good last week, going 18-for-35 for 187 yards with two picks. Ironically, the Bucs were interested in trading for Palmer this offseason. Once again, Arizona is struggling to run the ball, averaging only 86.3 yards per game.
Defensively, the Cards are battered. The team lost its two starting outside linebackers, Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho, to season-ending injuries in Week 3. Rookie Alex Okafor, who would have replaced Acho, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. And in the most graphic injury I can think of, Cards safety Rashad Johnson lost the tip of his left middle finger in last week's game yet amazingly might play Sunday. Starting nose tackle Dan Williams, whose father was killed in a car accident last Friday, won’t play Sunday.
Cardinals at Bucs NFL Week 4 NFL Betting Odds and Trends
At Bovada, Tampa Bay is a 2.5-point favorite with the total at 41. The Cardinals are 2-1 ATS (1-1 on road) and 1-2 “over/under” (1-1 on road). The Bucs are 1-2 ATS (1-0 at home) and 0-3 O/U (0-1 at home). Arizona is 4-0 ATS in its past four following at ATS loss. The Cardinals are 4-1 ATS in their past five after a loss of more than 14 points. Arizona is 5-2 in its past seven September games. The Bucs are 4-9 ATS in their past 13 against teams with a losing record. They are 2-5 ATS in their past seven following a loss. Tampa is 1-4 ATS in its past five after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game. The under is 7-0 in the Bucs' past seven games. Bovada also has two Glennon props: over/under 55 percent completions Sunday and 220.5 yards (all options -115).
Free NFL Picks: Cardinals at Bucs Week 4 Betting Predictions
The Bucs originally planned to wear those throwback creamsicle uniforms that were awful back in the day but now just ultra-cool, but they won't. Unfortunately, the new NFL policy forbids alternate helmets because of safety reasons. Teams can do throwback uniforms but must use current helmets for safety reasons (i.e. concussion lawsuits). They can swap logos on the helmets, which the Bills did earlier this year. But Buffalo's throwback helmet colors were the same. The Bucs' are totally different.
Expect a heavy dose of Martin here, although Arizona is No. 3 in the NFL in rushing defense. Glennon no doubt will take more than a few shots deep, and I think he lands one or two. Freeman had begun to drag the entire team down with him, so maybe Glennon also lights a fire under some guys. Love that the Bucs are less than a field goal favorite at home, where they have lost four straight, so they are the choice with the under. As for Glennon's props, go under completions and over yards. Something like 20-39 for 230 yards with two touchdowns and two picks.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of this Weeks Free NFL picks
Get all of this Weeks Expert NFL Picks