Bucs at Lions Betting Preview – Can Tampa Bay Pull Off Another Upset?

Bucs at Lions - Live Odds and Our Best Bet

The road to the Superbowl heats up in Detroit as the Lions are now hosting a second playoff game thanks to the Green Bay Packers’ upset of the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions narrowly defeated the Los Angeles Rams in Matthew Stafford’s first playoff game in Detroit. We backed the Rams in that matchup and got the cover despite losing the moneyline in a 24-23 Detroit victory. 

How We Got Here: Recap From Wildcard Weekend

It was a tale of two halves last week for the Lions, going three for four on drives resulting in a touchdown in the first half. The Rams couldn’t stop the rushing attack of David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, opening up single coverage opportunities in the passing game. In the second half, the Lions seemed to have abandoned the run and forced the number through the air.

What might have been the difference in the game was two key red zone stops in the second half where the Rams were unable to score touchdowns and had to settle for field goals. The home crowd in Detroit certainly played a role for a city that has waited 30 years to host a playoff game. The Rams burned two timeouts early in the second half, unable to get the play across, which ultimately left them unable to extend the game late in the fourth quarter. 

The Bucs dominated their game against the Eagles, winning 32-9 in a game that could have seen even more points if the Bucs connected on a few deep shots. The falloff of this Eagles team is well-documented at this point, so I want to be wary of giving too much credit to Tampa Bay. That being said, Baker Mayfield looked great under center and importantly looked healthy, coming into this game with an ankle injury.

Does Tampa Bay Have Any Edges?

I liked the offensive variety the Bucs provided as they’ve been quite a predictable team in 2023 in terms of playcalling. The Bucs knew they had an advantage over an Eagles secondary struggling to cover anybody and they pressed on.

Defensively, the Buccaneers’ pass rush was the star of the show, sacking Jalen Hurts three times and generating pressure on almost every other dropback. Devonta Smith was able to carve up the Bucs secondary but the Eagles weren’t able to do much else to remain competitive in this one. 

The Bucs’ pass rush translating game to game is probably the most important element of their matchup against the Lions. As mentioned, Todd Bowles is often the victim of a predictable scheme and game plan. The Lions should know what’s coming against them but will need the personnel to stop it.

The Eagles offensive line is one of the league’s best and despite injuries to other position groups, this unit was pretty much intact and did not hold up against the Bucs. They’ll face a similar challenge in the Lions line, however, won’t have to contend with a rushing threat in Jared Goff. The Bucs defense has shown that it can stop the run so will need to emphasize defending the short passing game. 

I haven’t been a believer in the Lions’ defense this season despite some early season success. They do generate some pressure when Aidan Hutchinson is able to get to the QB but otherwise are pretty mediocre.

If Baker Mayfield is healthy I don’t think they’ll have any difficulty putting up points in Detroit. This game will ultimately be decided by Baker’s ability to limit turnovers and the Buccaneers finding ways to get big stops against a dynamic Lions offense. 

Best Bet: Bucs +6.5 (-108) (DraftKings)

The line is currently hovering at -6.5 right now after mostly opening around -6. I’ve heard of some markets opening this at -4, obviously way off-market, but those prices are long gone. Here at -6.5, I think the Buccaneers are on the right side.

Tampa Bay will be traveling but will be playing in a dome and won’t have to contend with the elements. I’m not sure that Todd Bowles has any tricks up his sleeve that would give his team the edge it needs to beat the Lions, but I think 6.5 points is just too much.

We’ve seen some juice move back and forth on the 6.5 and I have to imagine most books are very hesitant to show a 7. If you do catch a +7 at any point (non-injury related) I would upgrade this to a 2% play. For now, we’ll play +6.5 for 1%.

Max Gilson

Sports Betting Contributor

Max is a seasoned sports analyst from New York who is known for his work on The Noise podcast. He brings a unique perspective on sports betting to the table, one that focuses on a quantitative approach and finding the best price. He can be found on X @max_thenoise