In a game that features two teams heading in different directions on the season, the New York Jets take their talents to Florida to battle the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Jets are on the upswing as they’re looking to remain in AFC Wild Card contention. The Bucs have one last chance to salvage their season before all hope is lost. Kickoff inside Raymond James Stadium is at 1 PM ET.
Since 2000, these teams have faced each other 4 times and the Jets have won all 4. In fact, the Jets have won 8 straight games against the Bucs dating all the way back to 1985. Their last game was in 2013 and New York won 18-17.
This game has many interesting stories that will surely play out on the field. Perhaps, the most intriguing subplot for this game is that Ryan Fitzpatrick will start for the injured James Winston and face his old team the Jets. Fitzpatrick played the last 2 seasons with New York before he was given the boot. I’m sure “Fitzmagic” would love to get revenge on his old team.
Another interesting subplot is that current Jets QB Josh McCown used to play for the Bucs. Unfortunately, McCown didn’t have great success. In fact, he probably would love to forget all about it as he went 1-10 during the 2010 season.
The Jets (4-5) could easily have a winning record if it weren’t for failing to hold onto their leads late in the 4th. They looked like a playoff caliber team last week as they embarrassed the Buffalo Bills on National television 34-21. The Jets hope to put together a winning streak after losing 3 straight games.
The Buccaneers (2-6) were a preseason NFC favorite to make the playoffs and contend for the conference crown. Unfortunately, things have gone downhill for the Bucs as they have lost 5 straight games and look like one of the worst teams in the league. They will be without starting QB Jameis Winston for the next few weeks as he’s healing from a shoulder injury. Additionally, they will be without their top receiver Mike Evans who is suspended for one game due to an incident in last week’s game against the Saints. Can Fitzpatrick work his magic in this one and get the Bucs a much needed win?
The Over/Under opened at 41 points and has gone up to 43.5 total points. The spread opened with the Jets getting 1.5 points, but the line has shifted significantly and they are now the favorite and giving up 2.5 points.
Both teams have surprised their fans and pundits with where they currently stand on the season. The Jets at 4-5 is a big shock because they were pegged to win only 2 games at the most this season. And, as mentioned already, the Bucs were pegged as a preseason NFC favorite.
I wish I could pick Fitzpatrick and his “Fitzmagic” this game, but without Mike Evans I just don’t see it happening. Fitz has looked good in his limited playing time with the Bucs. He came in versus the Cardinals and led a furious comeback after being down 31-0. They ended up losing 38-33, but Fitz finished with 290 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. The gun slinger also threw 2 picks, but those are excusable when you lead a team back from the dead. Last weekend, he came in around half time to get Tampa’s only TD on the day as they were thoroughly outplayed by the Saints.
So, Fitz has potential to lead this team. In fact, it’s very similar to how McCown is leading the Jets. They manage the game, sling the ball around and somehow defy their age. Unfortunately, the Bucs won’t be able to overcome the loss of Mike Evans and the Jets will be able to capitalize on it.
I expect the Jets to play man-to-man against the Bucs receivers, put a safety over the top on D. Jackson’s side, and then wreak havoc with their ferocious front 4. Look for the Jets to win this game 24-20.
Jets are 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 games and 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games against the Bucs. Tampa Bay is 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 games and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games.