Tampa Bay (6-7) at St Louis (5-8)
When: Thursday, December 17th 2015
Where: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, MO
Time: 8:30 ET | TV: NFL Network
Two teams with no shot at the playoffs meet on Thursday Night Football as the St. Louis Rams host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Rams will be playing their last home game of the season and have four of their five wins at Edward Jones Dome. They had a couple of early season wins over both Seattle and Arizona, but have fallen on hard times since. The Rams broke a five-game losing streak last week with a 21-14 win over Detroit and scored over 20 points for the first time since November 1st. Their 16.2 points per game ranks second last in the NFL in front of only San Francisco. Running back Todd Gurley is just 25 rushing yards a way from joining Eric Dickerson and Jerome Bettis as the only Rams rookie to rush for over 1,000 yards. He ran for 140 yards on just 16 carries last week in the win over Detroit. He’s also second to only Eric Dickerson with the most games over 125 yards rushing in NFL history as a rookie with five. Quarterback Case Keenum returned last week and was 14-of-22 for 124 yards and an interception. He should be more prepared this week as he makes his way back from a concussion. The Rams are second in the NFC with 36 sacks, including 11 by Aaron Donald, who is second in the conference in sacks and leads all NFL defensive tackles with 20 since the start of the 2014 season.
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The Bucs were all but eliminated last week when they lost to the Saints at home 24-17 – their second loss in three weeks. Quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 182 yards last week versus the Saints to raise his season total to 3,059 – a franchise rookie record. Winston has had an up-and-down rookie season as one might expect, but his highlight of the season was a five-touchdown performance against Philadelphia in Week 11. Winston is the third rookie quarterback in league history to eclipse the 3,000-yard mark. Running back Doug Martin ranks second in the league with 1,214 rushing yards and third in the NFC with 1,413 yards from scrimmage. Martin has recorded six touchdowns in his last 10 games, including five on the ground. The Bucs will go up against a Rams defense that’s not very good against the run this season. Tampa Bay has had a hard time scoring points recently with only 12, 23, and 17 in their last three games against pretty poor defenses. The Bucs will need to win their final three games to get over .500 for the first time in three years.
The Bucs are having a tough time on offense and I don’t see it getting any better tonight. I actually like Keenum better than Nick Foles. I expect Gurley to have another big game and for the Rams defense to cause Winston some problems.
Pick: Rams -2.5