Buccaneers vs. Lions Expert Pick and Prediction – January 21, 2024
BUCCANEERS VS. LIONS EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – January 21, 2024 — Every year, there’s one team that dominates the wild card round, but can’t match up to that performance the next week. There are two candidates to be that team on the NFC side, as both Tampa Bay and Green Bay looked fantastic last time out.
But questions exist about Tampa Bay’s showing. Specifically, it’s unclear whether it had more to do with itself or the Eagles’ collapse. The Bucs dominated the game, but the Eagles had played so poorly for the past two months that nobody was really surprised.
Detroit’s been playing much better than Philadelphia, and the Lions have the crowd pumped for a second straight home playoff game. Not only that, but this time, they’ll have far less pressure on them. Last week, the Lions had the pressure of their first home playoff game in 33 years, plus the return of Matthew Stafford to Michigan.
Now they can play free and loose against an opponent they’ve got no past connection with. This game’s going to come down to how well the Tampa defense can match up with Detroit’s passing game. If the Bucs win in the trenches, they’ll pull the upset. But if Jared Goff gets time to throw, this won’t be close.
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(10-8 SU, 12-6 ATS)
(13-5 SU, 12-6 ATS)
When: Sunday, January 21 at 3 p.m. EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
Public Bets: 52% on Tampa Bay
Public Money: 62% on Detroit
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of January 12th, 2024.
Buccaneers vs. Lions In-Season Trends
Tampa Bay did what it does best last time out. The Bucs held yet another foe to under 24 points, and they earned a cover for the fifth time in six games. However, that’s not as impressive as it seems, given that Green Bay is the only team in that stretch who’s still playing.
The Packers are the only team all year that the Bucs beat who made it to the last eight, although the defense has been rock-solid all year. Last week marked five straight games where the Bucs have given up 24 points or less.
The Lions couldn’t cover last week, marking the first time all year that they’ve failed to cover in a game where the under cashed. Detroit’s problem usually comes when it lets teams hang around with it, but the Lions’ defense stepped up in a big way last week. They don’t get anywhere near as much praise as the Bucs, but last week also marked five straight for the Lions holding their foes to 24 or less.
Weather isn’t an issue at Ford Field.
Don’t expect much from the running game on either side. The last time these teams met, a 20-6 Detroit win in October, they combined for 86 rushing yards on 38 carries. In short, the defenses won the battle on both sides. The Lions won because Jared Goff threw for 353 yards and Amon-Ra St. Brown got open routinely against the soft Buccaneer secondary.
To win and/or cover, the Bucs need to get to Goff and get more from the passing attack. Detroit isn’t very strong at defending the deep ball either, which Tampa Bay exploited by hitting four passes of at least 15 yards in the first meeting. If the Bucs can get behind the Lions’ secondary, they have the edge.
Facing the collapsing Eagles isn’t good preparation for meeting the Lions. Detroit got a gift of a second home game when Dallas went down in flames, and it’s against an opponent it already handled once on the road.
Tampa Bay’s only going to make this a game if the pass rush can get to Goff repeatedly. But we already saw this game once. The Bucs got three sacks and Goff shredded the Bucs’ secondary. But that was in Tampa, where heat and the crowd work to the Bucs’ advantage.
Going into Detroit isn’t likely to work any better than the first meeting. Expect the Lions to hit the gas here.