NFL Week 7 Bucs at Lions Tampa Bay v. Detroit Print
Written by Anthony Rome   
Thursday, 18 October 2007 11:21
NFL Headline News

Battle in Motown

A new starting quarterback has helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers solidify their place in the standings. Now, the NFC South co-leaders are looking to develop a consistent ground game as well.

With new running backs Michael Bennett and Zack Crockett available, the Buccaneers look to move into sole possession of the division lead when they visit the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Both teams are playing at a much higher level than last season, though the Lions (3-2) are struggling to find consistency. The game also is a reunion of sorts. Rod Marinelli spent 10 years with Tampa Bay as a defensive coach before becoming the Lions head coach last year, and Buccaneers starting quarterback Jeff Garcia was 1-4 in five starts for Detroit in 2005.

Garcia has triggered Tampa Bay's turnaround this season. After beating Tennessee 13-10 last week on Matt Bryant's 43-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining, the Bucs (4-2) are tied with Carolina atop the NFC South and have already matched last season's win total.

"I try not to compare this team to last year. ... It's not fair to these guys," Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said. "We've got some key injuries right now that are troublesome and we have to overcome. But we do have enough grit, enough stuff inside our building to rise up, and I know we'll be there (every) Sunday and compete."

Garcia has yet to throw an interception this season and ranks second in the NFC with a 103.6 passer rating behind Carolina's Jake Delhomme, who's out for the season.

"He is a much better quarterback, no disrespect to anyone else we have had here, than we have played with," Gruden said of Garcia, whose current streak of 164 consecutive pass attempts without an interception is the NFL's longest. "He is more athletic, more instinctive, he's quicker, he plays fast, and he has tremendous experience."

The three-time Pro Bowler is the eighth different starting quarterback during Gruden's six seasons in Tampa Bay, but Garcia has flashed the ability that helped him rally the Eagles to the NFC East title last season.

Tampa Bay now needs to develop a ground game and hope Bennett and Crockett will help. The Bucs have rushed for just 47 yards combined in the last two weeks and traded undisclosed draft picks to Kansas City to acquire Bennett before Tuesday's trade deadline. Crockett was signed on Oct. 10 after being cut by Oakland.

The two were added after the Bucs lost Cadillac Williams for the season with a torn knee tendon. Backup Michael Pittman is out two months with an ankle sprain and Earnest Graham has been ineffective.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Detroit -1 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 44.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on Tampa Bay+1 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Detroit had last week off after a disappointing 34-3 loss to Washington on Oct. 7. The Lions also have matched their win total from last season, but have two blowout losses as well - they were routed 56-21 by Philadelphia on Sept. 23

"We haven't leapfrogged to another level because you can't play good one week and get throttled the next," Detroit kicker Jason Hanson said. "But we have put ourselves in a position where we're playing for something, so that should be an incentive.

"Getting throttled two times should tell us: 'You thought you were good? Take another look.' We're still a team that is scratching and clawing."

After scoring an NFL record 34 points in the fourth quarter to rally past Chicago 37-27 on Sept. 30, the Lions fell flat against Washington, managing just 144 yards.

"When you lose before the bye, it seems like you sit around and ponder," Detroit guard Edwin Mulitalo said. "I'm itching to get back and try to get this taste out of our mouth."

The Lions are striving to be more consistent on both sides of the ball. Jon Kitna has thrown for 1,333 yards and Detroit ranks fifth in the NFL in passing. But the ground game has struggled incorporating Kevin Jones and Tatum Bell.

Bell started the first five games, but Jones has been named the starter for Sunday's contest. Jones missed the first two games with a foot injury and had been taking carries away from Bell since returning. Bell downplayed reports of a trade demand, but isn't happy about his reduced role. After rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown in the first game, he hasn't had more than 46 yards in any of the last four games.

Detroit's defense is allowing 31.0 points and 378.6 yards per game, both NFC highs.

Tampa Bay has won four straight and six of the last seven between the teams.

By: AP Staff Writers - Email Us

More NFL Football coverage from theSpread.com

 - Las Vegas Hilton Contest
 - NFL public betting chart
 - NFL teams
 - NFL standings
 - NFL schedule
 - NFL injuries
 - NFL matchups
 - NFL stats
 - NFL odds
 - NFL news wire
 - NFL top stories
 - Accuscore NFL predictions
 - NFL scoreboard
 - Expert NFL Picks
 - NFL trends
 - Comments and discussion
 - Signup for theSpread.com daily newsletter
 - NFL Home

 

NFL Team Pages

Top NFL Public Bets

#1 463 New Orleans Saints 78%
#2 265 Dallas Cowboys 76%
#3 485 San Francisco 49ers 75%
#4 280 San Francisco 49ers 75%
#5 481 New England Patriots 72%
#6 488 Denver Broncos 72%
#7 277 Houston Texans 71%
#8 268 Atlanta Falcons 69%
#9 480 Kansas City Chiefs 69%
#10 263 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 67%
View All: NFL |  NBA |  NCAAF |  NCAAB |  MLB |  NHL

Recent NFL Discussions

NFL Futures

NFL TEAM CONFERENCE ODDS CURRENT
DENVER BRONCOS 9/4
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 3/1
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 17/4
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 9/2
GREEN BAY PACKERS 6/1
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 7/1
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 7/1
CHICAGO BEARS 15/2
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 12/1
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 14/1
View All

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Contact Us | Advertising | 888-99-SPREAD

THIS IS NOT A GAMBLING SITE – If you think you have a gambling problem click here.

Disclaimer: This site is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Individual users are responsible for the laws regarding accessing gambling information from their jurisdictions. Many countries around the world prohibit gambling, please check the laws in your location. Any use of this information that may violate any federal, state, local or international law is strictly prohibited.

Copyright: The information contained on TheSpread.com website is protected by international copyright and may not be reproduced, or redistributed in any way without expressed written consent.

About: TheSpread.com is the largest sports betting news site in the United States. We provide point spread news, odds, statistics and information to over 199 countries around the world each year. Our coverage includes all North American College and Professional Sports as well as entertainment, political and proposition wagering news.

©1999-2013 TheSpread.com