The Detroit Lions run a NASCAR-style offense. Does it ever run fast and hot…but the possibility of a crash is always there. Matthew Stafford, the team’s ace QB has been down with a brutish hand injury suffered at the feet of a Baltimore defender. The all-important gunslinger may or may not play this weekend – desperate for a win, the Lions are being coy about it – and Vegas is reacting in the most extreme way it can.
There’s no markets currently offered for the Lions – Buccaneers game Sunday, at least on any of the major sports books and satellite operations. Nada. Zilch.
Sometimes odds will “break” on a 24-hour notice, but this time casinos appear to be withholding a point spread until Sunday, when on-field warm-ups and updates from the dressing room will offer a clue to Stafford’s availability.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 4-8 with a sagging QB of their own and little to play for. Yet whether or not they’re substantial underdogs will depend on Detroit’s health behind center.
Who: Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When: Sunday, December 10th, 1 PM EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Winning money on this NFL contest will depend on your live-betting skills. Let’s look at 3 likely scenarios:
A) Stafford comes back and is somehow comfortable throwing short, deep and to the sideline. Hits aren’t bothering his hand.
This is the least-likely situation to be betting on, since Stafford’s hand was bandaged after the Ravens game and he has been throwing with taped fingers in practice. But if the QB looks 100%, the spread will likely give the Buccaneers a TD at home. If spread is as tight as 6.5 points, take the Lions before the game starts or at halftime. They’ve got a steep motivational edge as a potential playoff team even after losing 4 out of their last 5.
B) Stafford plays but is clearly not 100%.
This would be an easy pick as well, as we think Detroit will block better than the Buccaneers tackle over 4 quarters. Stafford can get by with easy short passes and still outplay a struggling Jameis Winston. But odds-makers may not notice any inaccurate throws until game-time, which means the spread might strongly favor the visitors. Once again, the magic number is (-6.5) or less…an ailing Stafford is unlikely to blow the Bucs out.
C) Backup Detroit QB Jake Rudock starts.
Hmm. This is an absolute wild-card, since Rudock is in his 2nd NFL season and has thrown a grand total of 5 passes. On the plus side, this development would turn the live-betting spread into a pick’em, give or take a couple of points.
Rudock has size and passing ability, but was intercepted in limited action last weekend. He comes from a Michigan program that is not designed to train QBs for the modern pro game. What we do know about the former Wolverine is that he’s got a knack for playing well in tight games, shining against the Big Ten in 2015. But that doesn’t mean he can cover any type of a spread…or get Marvin Jones Jr. the football.
If it’s Winston and the home team against a green-horn, your best pick is Tampa Bay against a pick’em or plus-spread…if you can find one.
Otherwise, take the Lions and a wobbly Matt Stafford to prevail against a dead duck (or a dead Buc) of an NFL campaign.