The Buccaneers atoned for a rare two-game losing streak at home on Monday night in Week 11, topping the overmatched New York Giants by a 30-10 score.
While the running game struggled to get much traction and Tampa Bay ultimately averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, Tom Brady, who’d thrown a pair of interceptions in each of the aforementioned pair of losses, eclipsed the 300-yard mark for the fifth time this season, firing a touchdown pass apiece to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
The win brought the Buccaneers’ record to 7-3 and their home mark to 5-0. The defending champions sit atop the NFC South with a two-game lead.
The Colts will also come into this interconference clash riding high after surprisingly dominating the Bills on their home field by a 41-15 score on Sunday.
A jaw-dropping 185-yard, four-touchdown rushing day by Jonathan Taylor, one in which he also notched a 23-yard receiving score, spearheaded Indianapolis’ upset victory. Carson Wentz only had to put the ball up 20 times and threw for just 106 yards while averaging a modest 5.3 yards per attempt.
However, the Colts defense also played an integral role, picking Josh Allen off twice, forcing and recovering a fumble and holding Buffalo’s potent offense to just 307 total yards.
Please note that all NFL gameday odds are current as of 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday, November 23.
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Buccaneers vs Colts Prediction
The Buccaneers’ offense arguably looked reasonably crisp in Monday night’s win over the Giants, but the added dimension Antonio Brown (ankle) brings to the passing game was still palpably absent.
Brady averaged a relatively pedestrian 6.7 yards per attempt against the Giants and has been at that figure or fewer in three of the four games Brown has missed. He’s also thrown five interceptions over that span. Notably, the Colts defense has been playing more restrictive coverage of late, giving up just 6.0 yards per attempt over the last three games (compared to 7.1 for the season).
The presence of Rob Gronkowski, who recorded a 6-71 line in his return to action against the Giants, does give Brady another potent weapon to work with against the Colts, even if Brown remains out. The matchup is a favorable one positionally for Gronk as well, as Indianapolis comes in having allowed the second-most receptions (66), third-most receiving yards (691) and second-most touchdowns (6) to tight ends.
Evans and Godwin have an interesting statistical matchup in their own right. While Indy has allowed an NFL-high 17 touchdowns to receivers, the Colts have impressively limited wideouts to a stingy 63.9 percent catch rate and also rank in the top half of the league with just an 8% explosive pass play rate allowed. Tampa Bay ranks No. 7 in the league with an 11% explosive pass play rate on offense, so this will be a strength-on-strength matchup.
Meanwhile, the Colts are allowing just 111.6 rushing yards per contest and 3.9 RB yards per carry. Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones could have an uphill battle helping Brady out with consistent ground production.
Conversely, the matchup of the Taylor-led Colts ground game and the Buccaneers’ virtually impenetrable run defense should be a fascinating one to watch, however, one on which the outcome of the game will likely hinge.
Taylor has been more or less matchup-proof and is averaging an outstanding 5.8 yards per carry. Nevertheless, the Bucs are now allowing 78.4 rushing yards per game and 3.4 RB yards per rush, ranking them No. 1 and No. 2 in the NFL in those categories, respectively.
The Colts’ offensive line has naturally been an integral part of Taylor’s success, facilitating the second-most RB yards per carry (5.4) in the league. Lately, as Taylor has gone, so has Indy. With Taylor logging his three highest carry totals of the season over the last three games, the Colts are 3-0.
However, no team faces a lower percentage of rushing plays than the Bucs (33.1 percent), and despite head coach Frank Reich’s well-placed confidence in Taylor and his blockers, this is almost certainly a spot where Wentz will have to put the ball up more than 20 times.
That’s precisely where Indy could get into some trouble offensively. Wentz has been impressive overall in his return to Reich’s offensive system and has a sparkling 18:3 TD:INT. However, Tampa Bay has played very good pass defense on the road, allowing just 234.8 passing yards per contest and 9.8 yards per completion in that split.
The Bucs also got a bit healthier in the secondary with the return of Sean Murphy-Bunting from an elbow injury Monday night and have a chance to get Carlton Davis (quadriceps) back for this Week 12 contest.
Factoring in the Bucs’ ability to consistently bring pressure and the likelihood Taylor is much less successful at finding open running lanes than in recent weeks, I like Tampa Bay being able to do enough defensively to force Wentz to over-rely on a group of pass catchers that’s about league average at best.
Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Colts 20
Buccaneers vs. Colts Best Bets
Best Bet: Buccaneers -2.5 (-105) at Caesars
As outlined in the game prediction, I envision a close game where the Bucs prevail by four points.
The Bucs have struggled on the road this season and are 0-5 against the spread when traveling, but they do have one six-point road win over the Eagles and were 6-5 ATS on the road last season with the second-highest net margin of victory (11.2) in the league in that split.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis is 3-3 ATS at home this season and 1-1 as a home underdog specifically with a net ATS +/- of -4.0 points. Indy is 1-4 ATS as a home underdog overall since Reich’s arrival at the start of the 2018 season.
With the Buccaneers one of the few teams that can possibly neutralize Taylor and therefore disrupt Indianapolis’ preferred offensive philosophy, I like Tampa Bay to narrowly cover in our NFL pick of the day.
Best Bet: Under 51.5 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
These two teams are certainly capable of playing solid defense against quality opposition and the Bucs could especially make it difficult for Indy to maintain offensive balance, which points me in the direction of the Under prevailing here.
The Over is just 2-3 in the Bucs’ road games this season and 3-3 in Indy’s home games. Moreover, four of Tampa Bay’s last five games have finished Under this projected total, as have four of Indianapolis’ six home contests.
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