Pivotal game for playoff minded Tampa Bay Bucs, who take on Denver Broncos this Sunday

Bucs need to find room for Doug Martin

TAMPA - I know what you're thinking.

The Bucs have no chance of beating Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the Mile High City on Sunday.

Thought so.

FLASHBACK -- Peyton Manning brings the Colts back from oblivion to beat the Bucs in overtime in Prime Time.

Yeah, I thought about that too, and that miracle comeback was against a decent defense.

I'm telling you right now, the Bucs' offense is every bit as good as the Broncos'.

The difference between these two teams is on the other side of the football.

Defensively, Denver gives up combined passing/rushing yards at 308 yards a game/avg.

That's less than the Bucs defense allows per game in the air.

So, there you have it.  THE ONUS THIS WEEK AND EVERY WEEK FROM HERE ON OUT WILL BE ON THE BUCS DEFENSE.

Will they man up when they play press coverage, not back up 6-7 yards for an easy gain?  Seen way too much of that lately, but then again we do have raw, young corners trying to do their job.

Excuse me for ranting there.  It just aggravates me that this team is three-to-four defensive starters away from going for it all.

I know you're saying- Come on, man?!  This team was never thought of as a playoff contender before the season started.

You're right- but they are now, and the NFL is full of "like" teams.

NE,SF, and probably Houston are the three juggernauts this year and everyone else from 4-17 can beat each other.

That includes TB and DEN.

Since I'm not going the easy route and picking winners against the spread, I have to yield to stats that must be taken into account.

Wow, take a look at the trends below for the season.  The meter falls in favor of the Bucs in this one, maybe not to win, but beat the seven point spread.

(ATS means against the spread)

The Buccaneers are 8-2 ATS.
The Buccaneers are 5-0 ATS away.
The Buccaneers are 6-1 ATS as the underdog.
The Buccaneers are 5-0 ATS as an away underdog.
The Broncos are 6-5 ATS.
The Broncos are 3-2 ATS at home.
The Broncos are 5-2 ATS as the favorite.
The Broncos are 3-1 ATS as a home favorite.

One more thing- Denver has beaten KC, San Diego twice, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Oakland.  They've lost to ATL, Hou and NE.

Kind of mirrors the Bucs W/L record, doesn't it?

Beat the lousier teams (except for NO), and lose to the good ones.

Last week, I got by on my prediction by a 1/2 point.  Makes up for the two one point losses earlier in the year.

By no means am I going to predict a Bucs win over Denver Sunday.

But I am going with the Bucs against the spread.

As of this writing, they are 7 point underdogs.

Could go up since everyone on the planet thinks Manning will throw for a billion yards and 85 TD's.

Manning is due for a bad game.  It's coming, not sure if it's this week.

Bucs RB Doug Martin is a key here.  Broncos are very good against the run, and frankly the pass as well.

Martin has to perform, so OC Mike Sullivan needs to find a way to make Dougie effective.

The weather is predicted to be surprisingly beautiful.  High 63, low 39.  That's football weather baby and shouldn't get the Bucs all shivered in their uni's.

My predicition this week; Bucs +7 (reserve right to take higher spread number later in week, if applicable)

TK vs.Spread 7-4

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