A day after Christmas, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions will meet in Motown to kick off a Saturday triple-header. The 9-5 Bucs have won two in a row and can clinch a playoff spot with a win, while the 5-9 Lions will aim for a win after dropping four of their last five games.
Here is a closer look at both teams, along with a free pick against-the-spread. Tampa Bay is currently an eight-point favorite on the road.
Although the Bucs are all-but-out of the NFC South race, their grasp on a Wild Card spot has only gotten stronger after wins against the Vikings the Falcons. Now with Detroit and Atlanta again to close the season, Tampa Bay has a chance to gain some momentum heading into the postseason.
Future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady, along with receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, leads an offense that averages 28.6 points per game, seventh in the NFL, and ranks inside the Top 10 in passing yards. But a rushing offense ranked in the bottom five puts their total yards per game at 371.4, 19th in football.
While they have trouble running themselves, Tampa Bay can stop the run better than anyone, allowing a league-low 78 rushing yards per game. They're in the Top 10 with 356 total yards allowed and 11th with 23 points allowed per game. The Bucs are also near the top of the league with 43 sacks and have recorded 14 interceptions as a team.
Another all-around rocky season in Detroit led to the firing of both coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn. But not all hope is lost, as the Lions have shown the ability to beat decent teams like the Cardinals and Bears, and will be playing for bragging rights over the final two games of the season.
Matthew Stafford is joined by rookie running back D'Andre Swift and receiver Marvin Jones, leading an offense that averages just under 24 points per game, 19th in the NFL. They are Top 10 in passing but third-to-last in rushing, resulting in an average of 375 yards per game, one spot ahead of Tampa Bay.
However, the Lions have been a mess on defense. Their 31 points allowed per game in the worst in football, and their 413 yards allowed in the third-worst. They rank in the bottom-five of the league in almost all defensive stats, including in team sacks with 19 and interceptions with seven.
The Bucs enter the game 9-5 overall and 5-2 on the road, but ATS, they're 7-7 and 3-4, respectively. Furthermore, they're just 5-10 ATS in their last 15 games against the NFC North and 3-10 ATS in their previous 13 games against Detroit. But Tampa Bay has won five of their last six road games, as well as six of their last eight road games against the Lions.
As for Detroit, they come in with a 5-9 overall record and 1-5 home record, and ATS they're 6-8 and 2-4. While they're 4-2 ATS in their last six conference games, they're just 6-13 ATS in their last 19 games versus the NFC South. The Lions have also won only one of their last 10 games at Ford Field.
One thing to monitor for the Bucs will be the health of running back Ronald Jones. Jones missed the last game with an injury, and his availability will make a difference going against one of the league's worst run defenses.
Regardless, the Buccaneers should win this game. They're the better team who has weapons on offense and difference-makers on defense. However, Detroit covering is an intriguing option. They have hung tough against some good teams in the past, while Tampa Bay has been a lot closer to teams than they should be on several occasions. I'm taking the Bucs to win, but the Lions to cover the eight points at home.
Free Pick: Detroit Lions (+8).