Tuesday, October 4, 2011

JZN NFL Predictions vs. Spread: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francsico 49ers (Week 5, 2011-12)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers may be the two ugliest 3-1 teams in the NFL after four weeks. Can the Buccaneers recover after a short week?

The early spread on this game is 49ers (-3). Here are some of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for when betting. All lines from Cooper's Pick and Injury Reports from CBS Sports as of October 4, 2011. Always keep yourself updated with injury lines because they’ll unexpectedly change throughout the week.

Current Personal Picks Record (Straights Only)
San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)

Key Injuries
OT James Lee, OT Joe Staley, WR Braylon Edwards

Keys to the Game
  • Can the Buccaneers contain Frank Gore?
  • Does Joshua Freeman give the Buccaneers a fourth-quarter advantage?
  • The Buccaneers will have trouble running against Patrick Willis?
  • Can the 49ers’ offensive line protect Alex Smith?
  • Does the short week and cross-country trip affect the Buccaneers?
  • Can the 49ers avoid a slow start?
  • Can the 49ers continue to create turnovers?
  • Could Ted Ginn, Jr. be an X-Factor?

The Buccaneers pulled off a 21-0 victory in Candlestick Park in 2010. Troy Smith (Not Alex) was the 49ers’ starting quarterback. He went 16/31 for 148 passing yards and one interception. Frank Gore was basically useless as he had 12 carries for 23 yards. Patrick Willis did have 13 tackles along with two sacks and two QB hits in that game.

Gore got off to a slow start in 2011 before a 127-yard performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4. The Buccaneers offense is heavily dependent on Legarrette Blount. Both teams have strong run defenses as the 49ers have the NFL’s fourth-ranked run defense (and that’s after facing Michael Vick who skews that stat). I’d expect both offenses to have difficulty moving the football.

The 49ers success is coming off turnovers. They’re currently tied for the NFL lead with a (+8) turnover ratio. The Buccaneers are also somewhat effective in this area at (+1). That doesn’t mean these teams are entirely disciplined; both are amongst the NFL leaders in penalty statistics.

The 49ers have been plagued by slow starts these past two weeks. They’ve only scored six points in the past two games during the first half. The Buccaneers have been the kings of winning ugly games these past two seasons. You don’t want to leave them within striking distance at the start of the fourth quarter because Joshua Freeman is very capable of comebacks.

Despite that, I’m just going with the 49ers on a game that I’m 50/50. I’m only confident that this will be close heading into the fourth quarter. The Buccaneers are making a long road trip on a short week and the 49ers should have some momentum from two consecutive road games.

Final Predictions:
Against the Spread: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3)
Straight:  San Francisco 49ers 16, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13

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