Bucs Rolling Again

Tampa, FL - There's been uncertainty at the quarterback position since early in the season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But with two experienced signal-callers on the roster, there wasn't any dropoff last week even with Brian Griese injured.

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With Matt Hasselbeck out, the struggling Seattle Seahawks have gotten even worse.

Both teams will again be without their starting quarterbacks on Sunday night, when the Buccaneers and backup Jeff Garcia look to remain unbeaten at home and hand the Seahawks their first-ever loss at Tampa Bay.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made the Bucs –10.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 58% of bets for this game have been placed on the Bucs –10.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden benched Garcia in favor of Griese after a 24-20 season-opening loss at New Orleans on Sept. 7, and Griese led the team to wins in his first three starts. But Griese injured his throwing arm on Oct. 5 during a 16-13 loss to Denver and missed Sunday's game against Carolina.

Garcia stepped in and led Tampa Bay (4-2) to a 27-3 victory, going 15-of-20 for 173 yards and a touchdown while spreading the ball to eight different receivers and avoiding any turnovers or sacks. With Griese still struggling to throw, Garcia will start again against Seattle.

"This is just one game and we don't know what's going to happen next," Garcia said Sunday. "But it felt great to be playing again. If we can just build on these things, we have a lot of good things to look forward to."

The Bucs have certainly done plenty of good things already in Tampa this season. In three games at Raymond James Stadium, all against teams currently at or above .500, they've outscored opponents by a combined 81-33, winning each by at least nine points.

Against the Panthers, rookie linebacker Geno Hayes returned a blocked punt for a touchdown less than three minutes into the game and the Tampa Bay defense intercepted Carolina's Jake Delhomme three times as the team moved into a tie with the Panthers and Falcons for first place in the NFC South.

"We had pressure," Gruden told the Bucs' official Web site. "We mixed coverages. (Defensive coordinator) Monte (Kiffin) did a great job again, but our players played their hearts out today. We have some opportunistic guys back there and we let three or four other interceptions get away. We've got guys with range, they have tremendous ability and they really hit today."

The Bucs' defense has been outstanding at home all season, forcing nine turnovers while allowing fewer than 250 total yards per game and zero rushing touchdowns.

But Tampa Bay has never beaten Seattle at home, losing all four of the Seahawks' visits and going 1-7 overall in the series. The losses in Tampa include a 23-7 defeat on New Years' Eve in 2006 and a 10-6 loss on Sept. 19, 2004.

Hasselbeck was Seattle's quarterback for both of those games, but he won't suit up Sunday as he continues to deal with a bulging disk in his back and a related knee problem. Backup Seneca Wallace is also recovering from a calf injury, but is hoping to make his first start since 2006.

If he can't play, third-stringer Charlie Frye would get his second straight start. Frye struggled Sunday against Green Bay, going 12-of-23 for 83 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the Seahawks' 27-17 loss. It was his first start since the opening game of 2007 for Cleveland, and he has a combined passer rating of 39.6 in those games.

"It's a challenge. The young men who have to play the game are doing everything they can," Seahawks' coach Mike Holmgren said. "But you know, Matt is a coach on the field. He's been here a long time. You have a franchise quarterback and you lose him, it changes."

Even with Hasselbeck, the Seahawks (1-4) were struggling. Thanks in part to an injury-ravaged receiving corps, they have the 31st-ranked passing offense in the NFL, and their defense has loosened, ranking 27th in the league.

The dismal start comes on the heels of five straight playoff appearances and four straight NFC West titles, including their trip to the Super Bowl after the 2005 season.

"We don't have the ability right now like we have had in the past to overcome (things)," Holmgren said. "It's tough right now ... It is a test of sorts, you know, we are not used to this. But here were are ... And we still have a lot of games to play. So we have to start dealing with that."

Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
SEATTLE is 4-2 against the spread versus TAMPA BAY since 1992
SEATTLE is 5-1 straight up against TAMPA BAY since 1992
5 of 6 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
SEATTLE is 2-0 against the spread versus TAMPA BAY over the last 3 seasons 
SEATTLE is 2-0 straight up against TAMPA BAY over the last 3 seasons 
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at TAMPA BAY since 1992
SEATTLE is 3-0 against the spread versus TAMPA BAY since 1992
SEATTLE is 3-0 straight up against TAMPA BAY since 1992
3 of 3 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at TAMPA BAY over the last 3 seasons.
SEATTLE is 1-0 against the spread versus TAMPA BAY over the last 3 seasons 
SEATTLE is 1-0 straight up against TAMPA BAY over the last 3 seasons 
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[WR] Deion Branch is out indefinitely - Heel - 10/07/08
[WR] Logan Payne IR - Knee - 09/15/08
[RG] Rob Sims IR - Pectoral - 09/09/08
[LB] Wesley Mallard IR. - Knee - 08/06/08
(!) [QB] Matt Hasselbeck injured last game probable - Knee - 10/05/08
[RB] Maurice Morris is upgraded to probable - Knee - 10/07/08
[WR] Koren Robinson missed last game, "?" - Knee - 10/05/08
[WR] Nate Burleson IR - Knee - 09/08/08
[CB] Kelly Jennings injured last game, "?" - Concussion - 10/05/08
[WR] Ben Obomanu IR - Shoulder - 08/31/08
[FB] B.J. Askew missed last game %27?%27 - Hamstring - 10/05/08
[QB] Jeff Garcia is expected to start - None - 10/08/08
[LB] Barrett Ruud left last game, %27?%27. - Knee - 10/05/08
[S] Sabby Piscitelli missed last game %27?%27 - Elbow - 10/03/08
[WR] Joey Galloway missed last game %27?%27 - Foot - 10/05/08
[QB] Brian Griese left last game, %27?%27. - Arm - 10/05/08
[RB] Carnell Williams is expected to miss first 6 games. - Knee - 08/28/08

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Posted: 10/16/08 2:13 PM

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