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‘Thursday Night Football’ picks and open thread: Buccaneers at Bills

The 2018 NFL Draft is front-and-center tonight with the No. 1 pick taking on the No. 7 pick.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Hopefully the Bills Mafia is ready for a pirate invasion because tonight’s game could be fun - well, more fun than the typical Thursday Night Football game anyway.

Fun Fact No. 1: The average point differential on Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football is 12.7 points this season.

On the Visitors sideline tonight, we have the better-than-expected Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are led by the nomadic Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, has gone from Cleveland to Carolina to Los Angeles (Rams) to Tampa Bay in a span of less than two years.

Has Mayfield finally found a place to call home?

Only time will tell.

It’s looking pretty good so far though . . .

Somehow, some way, Mayfield has the Bucs at .500 (3-3) which is pretty impressive in its own right. What’s even more impressive is that if the playoffs started today, Tampa Bay would be the NFC’s 7th seed.

Interestingly, the Buffalo Bills would also be a 7-seed if the playoffs started today, despite their disappointing (for them) 4-3 record.

The Bills are, of course, led by another quarterback from the 2018 NFL Draft: Josh Allen, who was selected No. 7 overall - - six picks after the Browns selected Mayfield, and four picks after the AFC’s New Jersey team selected Sam Darnold.

. . . Who thinks the Browns and Jets would like a do-over?

Fun Fact No. 2: This is the second time in their NFL careers that Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen have faced each other during the regular season. Mayfield won Round 1 on November 10th, 2019, by a score of 19-16.

On paper, the Bills are much better than the Bucs which is probably why DraftKings Sportsbook has given Buffalo the second-largest point spread this week (a mere half-point behind Miami vs. New England).

Football games aren’t played on paper though. If they were, the following bullet points are the sorts of things that would decide the outcome:

  • Yards per game (offense): Buffalo = 369.7 (No. 5 league-wide) | Tampa Bay = 297.7 (No. 23)
  • Yards allowed per game (defense): Buffalo = 329.6 (No. 14) | Tampa Bay = 342.5 (No. 20)
  • Points per game (offense): Buffalo = 28.3 (No. 3) | Tampa Bay = 17.2 (tied for No. 26)
  • Points allowed per game (defense): Buffalo = 16.9 (No. 5) | Tampa Bay = 17.3 (No. 6)

That last bullet is one to keep in mind if tonight’s game ends up being a field goal fest - or if you’re planning to bet on the Over/Under (currently 43 points).

Fun Fact No. 3: In the first matchup between Mayfield and Allen, one team came in with a 2-6 record; the other team had the opposite record, 6-2. By the time the game ended, the 2s had become 3s.

For as good as the Bills are/were supposed to be this year, they let Bill Belichick notch his 300th win last weekend. The Bills also lost to the Jets in Week 1 (courtesy of a punt return touchdown in overtime, despite Aaron Rodgers exiting the game on New York’s fourth offensive play), and to the Jaguars in London (25-20).

On the flip side, Buffalo absolutely destroyed Miami, 48-20, a week after the Dolphins‘ high-powered offense put 70 points on the scoreboard against the Broncos.

It’s been that kind of season.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has been pretty predictable this year, results-wise . . . at least until last Sunday when they lost to the division rival Falcons, 16-13, via a 51-yard field goal as time expired.

The Buccaneers’ other losses were vs. the Eagles (25-11) and vs. the Lions (20-6), while their wins have come at Minnesota (20-17 in Week 1), vs. the Bears (27-17 in Week 2), and at New Orleans (26-9, Week 4).

The combined record of the teams the Bucs have lost to is 15-6. The teams Tampa Bay has beaten are a combined 8-13. Which is about what you might expect from a team that’s 3-3.

The Bills are a different story:

  • Teams they’ve beaten are a combined 12-15
  • The teams they’ve lost to are 10-10, with half of those wins belonging to the Jaguars


Interesting tidbits about the all-time series:

  • Tampa Bay leads the all-time series 8-4, due in large part to their 4-0 record vs. the Bills from 1978 to 1988.
  • Ten of the 12 games these teams have played took place in Tampa Bay, including each of the first 8.
  • The home team has won the last six games (from 2000 to present).

The Pick: Buffalo to win, but not cover; Under 43 points.

Here’s how the rest of the Field Gulls staff sees it . . .