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Week 16 NFL picks for Christmas Day ‘SNF’

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Our NFL betting author brings you his best Buccaneers vs. Cardinals predictions and picks for his or her NFL Week 16 primetime showdown, which is live Sunday at 8:20 p.m. on NBC.

This game isn’t the Christmas present we hoped we’d be getting. The underperforming Buccaneers head to the desert to face the unraveling Cardinals on “Sunday Night Football.”

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Cardinals vs. Buccaneers predictions and evaluation

After last week’s 34-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bucs (6-8) lead the division nobody desires to win, the NFC South, by a single game over all three other teams. Tom Brady helped the Bucs construct a 17-0 lead before the defense collapsed, unable to stop Joe Burrow and the dynamic Bengals passing game. Tampa is now 1-3 since its bye week and the South could possibly be decided by the 2 looming division games against Carolina and Atlanta.

Few teams have it worse than the Cardinals (4-10), who will give Trace McSorley his first NFL start on Sunday after one other quarterback went down. With Kyler Murray already done for the season with an ACL tear, the Cardinals lost Colt McCoy to a concussion during last week’s 24-15 loss to the Denver Broncos. Arizona is reeling, with a single win in its last seven games.

Buccaneers -7.5

In limited motion against the Broncos, McSorley managed to toss throw interceptions on just 7-of-15 passing.

The Penn State product had entered only a couple of games with the Baltimore Ravens before coming to Arizona. While it should help to have offensive playmakers like DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown, nothing has come easy for the Cardinals this season even when Murray was healthy.

Tom BradyTom BradyGetty Images

The Buccaneers are smarting after a blown result in Cincinnati and a second straight ugly loss, and we figure they’ll be able to take out their frustration on a lesser opponent. The Bucs haven’t at all times beaten the teams they were “alleged to” beat this season, but Brady and co. won’t be troubled by Arizona’s defense, which just let Brett Rypien complete 80.8 percent of his throws.

Brady, even amid his worst season, is more trustworthy than McSorley. Sometimes it’s as straightforward as that.

Pick: Buccaneers to win (-7.5) at -110 with Caesars Sportsbook

Buccaneers to attain over 26 points +104

Caesars lets you tinker with certain props to your liking, notably with the choice points slider.

While betting on the Buccaneers to attain over 23.0 points returns only a -160 line, moving that O/U slider to 26.0 makes the “over” number more enticing at +104.

The Cardinals own the worst scoring defense within the league, allowing 26.6 points per game. A Broncos team headed by Rypien and Latavius Murray managed to attain 24 on them last week, and opponents have scored no less than 27 points on Arizona five times in its past eight outings.

While the Buccaneers are 4-10-0 in O/U this season, Cardinals games have hit the over eight times, owing more to Arizona’s porous defense than the points a healthy Murray was capable of put up.

Pick: Buccaneers to attain over 26.0 points @ +104 with Caesars Sportsbook

Betting on the NFL?

Cardinals commit a turnover on their first drive +625

Who knows what Kliff Kingsbury’s early-game script for McSorley’s first start will entail? It might be smart to run the ball and aim for some positive plays, however the Cardinals ran it just 22 times against Recent England two weeks ago — the sport Murray was injured and McCoy entered — and 20 times last week.

If the Cardinals proceed to depend on the passing game, it opens up a greater likelihood for an early interception, especially against a Buccaneers defense that was once fearsome. Tampa Bay has generated just 13 takeaways this season, among the many fewest within the NFL, but it surely did manage to choose off Burrow and land seven QB hits on him last week.

The likeliest final result of Arizona’s opening drive is a punt, which is why that’s got far and away the shortest odds at -265. The Cardinals haven’t shown they’re able to scoring a touchdown on the primary drive of games this 12 months, so a turnover figures to be probably the most exciting option. And it happened just three weeks ago when James Conner fumbled on the Cardinals’ first possession against the Chargers.

Pick: Cardinals to commit a turnover on first drive @ +625

Cardinals vs. Buccaneers odds

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. Correct at time of publishing and subject to vary.

TeamSpreadMoney lineTotal Points 40.5
Buccaneers(-7.5) -110-365Over -110
Cardinals(+7.5) -110+285Under -110
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