Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Las Vegas Raiders
- Raiders LT Trent Brown is out for this game (reserve/COVID-19 list). Four other Raiders offensive linemen were on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week but were activated Saturday.
After losing arguably their best offensive lineman Richie Incognito to a season-ending injury a couple of weeks ago, the Raiders will play in Week 7 without Trent Brown, who tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week. Because of close contact with Brown, four more Raiders linemen went on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week. They were removed from the list late Saturday and are expected to play.
Even with those four back in the lineup, Las Vegas will be down two key linemen from a couple of weeks ago, and the rest of their starting unit will have missed the entire week of practice. The Tampa defensive front ranks second in the NFL defending the run in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards and also second in adjusted sack rate.
That’s a major problem because the strength of the Raiders’ early-season success has been in an offense that has ranked fourth in success rate. Derek Carr has played at a surprisingly high level so far this season, but the Bucs present a stiff test with or without a full-strength line. Given the state of things, I expect the Raiders to struggle on the offensive side of the ball in this one.
While Tom Brady’s best days are behind him, he’s improved in 2020 over a down season in New England in 2019. Rob Gronkowski has also become a bigger part of the passing offense over the past couple of weeks, and it makes sense he might have needed some time to get up to speed after missing all of last year and having limited offseason reps. New addition Antonio Brown won’t suit up for this game, but Chris Godwin is healthy, and Mike Evans is still a difference-maker despite some early-season inconsistency.
Tampa has also dominated on the ground of late, with Ronald Jones running for at least 100 yards in each of the past three games. The Bucs will also welcome back Leonard Fournette to pair with Jones, and the Raiders rank 31st in rush defense DVOA. This Tampa offense is trending in the right direction coming off a statement 38-10 win at home against Green Bay, and I expect them to control this game on both lines.
This line has moved a lot throughout the week with the uncertainty surrounding the Raiders’ line. The Bucs now have to cover 4.5 on the road against a team with a winning record coming off a bye, and on paper that seems like a lot — they lost to Chicago outright in similar circumstances just two weeks ago, though that was on a short week. But I would have liked the Bucs to win here with both teams at full strength, and it’s hard to imagine these circumstances won’t have an impact on the Raiders’ offense.
NFL Expert Picks
Buccaneers -4.5 @ -110
NFL Free Picks
We're onto Week 7 of the NFL season with the Ravens, Dolphins, Colts and Vikings all on bye-weeks. We have some divisional games this week including the Bengals meeting the Browns and Washington facing a depleted Cowboys. The game of the weekend is arguably Titans vs. Steelers, with both teams being hugely impressive. Elsewhere we'll see Jon Gruden face his old team, the Buccaneers on Sunday Night football and the Rams face the Bears in primetime on Monday Night Football.
Our impressive array of handicappers, including Ben Gretch, Davis Mattek, Ben Rolfe, Alex Kirshner, Richard Johnson, Brian Good and Sam Farley, are on hand to give you the best picks. Don't forget to compare odds to ensure you get the most return on your bets too.