The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) are fresh off their bye week to take on the Cleveland Browns (3-7), who lost against the Bills last week. The Browns are in real danger of losing their third straight to welcome Deshaun Watson to a team with a 3-8 record when he is eligible to play next week.
The Browns are a 3.5-point home underdog at many of the top-rated sportsbooks. But can Jacoby Brissett outduel Tom Brady in what might be his last chance to start for the Browns? Let’s see what the NFL odds tell us.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Cleveland Browns
Sunday, November 27, 2022 – 01:00 PM EST at FirstEnergy Stadium
Browns Have Unusual Game vs. Bills
Week 11 was an odd one for the Browns after heading to Detroit to take on the Bills instead of traveling to a blizzard in Buffalo. The dome conditions seemed ideal for Buffalo’s passing game, but Josh Allen did not pass for 200 yards and ended up handing off to a very successful ground attack. Meanwhile, it was Jacoby Brissett who passed for a season-high 324 yards while the Browns could not get the running game going.
Nick Chubb’s pursuit of his first rushing title took a major hit as he was held to 19 yards on 14 carries. It is the only game in his career where he was held under 2.0 yards per carry (minimum four rushes). The Bills defended him very well.
While Brissett had the big passing numbers to Amari Cooper (113 yards and two touchdowns), the Browns did not do much scoring in between an opening-drive touchdown and two late touchdowns after they fell behind 28-10.
The second and third quarters were especially rough with Brissett losing an aborted snap, getting stuffed on a fourth-and-1 inside the Buffalo 30, and the Bills blocking a 34-yard field goal.
In the two games after the bye week, the Browns have allowed 70 points and forced zero takeaways. Playing the Dolphins and Bills can do that to you, but obviously Allen had a three-game streak with multiple picks coming into Sunday’s game. The Browns are just not getting enough pressure or creating turnovers right now. The big Cincinnati win in Week 8 is the only game all season where the Browns produced multiple takeaways on defense.
Are the Buccaneers Back?
The Buccaneers are 5-5 and still huge favorites to win the NFC South, but is this team still a contender? In Germany against the Seahawks, Tampa played about as well on offense as it has all season, aside from that ill-fated pass attempt to Tom Brady that was intercepted, and it still only led to 21 points.
Few would have imagined before the season that the Browns would come into this game with the better offense and quarterback having the better statistical season:
- Browns: No. 4 in yards per drive, No. 9 in points per drive, and Brissett is No. 6 in QBR (62.4).
- Buccaneers: No. 17 in yards per drive, No. 25 in points per drive, and Brady is No. 15 in QBR (54.3).
The difference is on defense, where the Buccaneers are No. 8 in points per drive allowed, and Cleveland is dead last at No. 32. But Tampa Bay has yet to win a game when allowing more than 16 points this season (0-4). The Browns have scored at least 17 points in every game except for the 38-15 blowout loss to the Patriots.
That New England loss is also the only home game where the Browns scored fewer than 28 points this year. This team can score points, and you have to imagine Chubb will find more success this week against a Tampa defense that is not as stout against the run as in past years.
The Bucs' Wild Card
Tampa’s rushing game is the wild card. The Buccaneers were terrible this season at running the ball. But in Germany against Seattle, the Buccaneers ripped off a season-high 161 rushing yards with Rachaad White picking up the majority with 105 yards. It was the first time since Week 1 that the Buccaneers were able to rush for over 75 yards.
Was that a one-game outlier, or is this the look of the offense going forward with White taking over the majority of touches from veteran Leonard Fournette? We’ll find out. Cleveland has had issues with stopping the run and ranks No. 28 in yards per carry allowed. The Browns have allowed the Dolphins and Bills to both rush for over 170 yards after holding the Bengals, who had a similarly terrible running game to Tampa Bay this year, to just 36 yards in Week 8.
This league can vary so much from week to week that you just can’t say for sure if the Bucs are going to be great or horrible at running in this matchup, but chances are it will be one or the other and not just something mediocre in between. But the same can be said of Chubb bouncing back at home.
Buccaneers vs. Browns: Our Betting Pick
Tampa Bay’s defense is the best unit in this game, but that defense also has just one takeaway in the last six games. If Brissett can play with a chip on his shoulder knowing that Watson is likely going to take his job next week, then he can end his 2022 on a high note and give other teams something to think about if they want to pursue him for 2023.
Chubb will be better at home than he was last week, and the Browns should be able to score enough points to challenge Tampa Bay in this one. I still do not trust the Tampa offense to be a well-oiled machine. The only game all season they scored more than 22 points was the Kansas City game where the Bucs were down double digits for almost the whole game.
I expect a close score in this one. One win in Germany should not overshadow what has been a lot of bad football from the Buccaneers this season. The Browns are a better team than their record, and if you think they can score at least 20 points and win the turnover battle in this game, then they have a great shot at an upset win for your NFL picks this Sunday.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.