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Forget Christmas, I won’t be able to pay my rent if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) can’t cover the spread when they visit the San Francisco 49ers (8-4) at Levi’s Stadium in Week 14.
The Buccaneers are underdogs for the first time since Super Bowl LV against a Niners team on their THIRD-STRING QB, Brock Purdy.
Betting Details (DraftKings)
San Francisco pummeled the Miami Dolphins last week 33-16 despite starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo exiting the game in the first quarter with a broken foot. Jimmy G’s regular season is most likely over. There is an outside chance Garappolo returns for the playoffs.
Tampa eked past the New Orleans Saints 17-16 on Monday Night Football in Week 13. But, the Buccaneers failed to cover as a 3-point home favorite. To win, the Bucs needed several Saints miscues and two Tom Brady TD passes in the final three minutes.
The market’s unconditional love of San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan combined with Tampa’s uninspiring MNF performance makes this a …
Buy-low spot for the Buccaneers
The 49ers have won five consecutive games (4-1 ATS), four of those games by at least 13 points. The Bucs are just 1-8-1 ATS in their last 10 games with losses to three teams below-.500: The Browns, Panthers, and Steelers.
Tampa Bay’s price is even cheaper here because the Bucs needed a minor miracle to beat a bad Saints team in Tampa with Andy Dalton playing quarterback.
Typically, there is an overreaction in the betting market to teams who played poorly on primetime the week prior. Well, the Bucs have underperformed expectations all season.
Also, people are treating Tampa like it’s a bad team. The Bucs are 10th in net expected points added per play and ninth in net success rate. This is the first time all season the Bucs are underdogs.
In fact, the Buccaneers-49ers preseason line was a pick ’em. However, backing Tampa as an underdog was profitable when Tom Brady joined the Bucs in 2020.
The Bucs have been underdogs six times in Brady’s first season in Tampa. They are 4-2 straight up (SU) and 5-1 ATS. Tampa’s opponents in those matchups were the Chiefs, Packers, and Saints back when Drew Brees still played.
Let’s get this straight: The only time the Bucs have been underdogs since 2020 was against Patrick Mahomes (twice), Aaron Rodgers, aka the reigning two-time MVP (twice), and future first-ballot Hall of Famer, Brees (twice).
Niners rookie third-string QB Brock Purdy is a huge step-down in competition from those QBs. The market is behaving like there isn’t a big difference between Purdy and Garoppolo and there is.
Jimmy G is criminally underrated
There is a completion percentage over expectation and EPA/play blend stat for QBs provided by RunningBacksDontMatter.com that I like to use. It essentially measures a QB’s ability to throw guys open and put up points.
Since Garappolo’s first season in San Francisco (2017), Jimmy G is fifth in the stat mentioned above behind Mahomes, Brees, Deshaun Watson, and Joe Burrow. Garappolo is third in opponent-adjusted efficiency per Football Outsiders this season.
People act like Shanahan can devise a potent offense with any QB but he needs Jimmy G. Shanahan is 9-29 SU without Garappolo in the lineup. With Jimmy G playing, the Niners are 38-17 SU.
He has a lot of help yet Garappolo is the straw that stirs the drink in San Francisco’s offense. Simply put, the 49ers were -4.5 on the opener. There isn’t a big enough adjustment from Jimmy G to Purdy.
Oddsmakers are baiting bettors by lowering San Francisco’s spread even though nearly 80% of the action is on the Niners, per Pregame.com. It’s suspicious whenever sportsbooks make the more popular team cheaper.
Especially when that team is playing Tom F-ing Brady. More money was on Tampa’s opponent in five of the other six games the Bucs were underdogs for since 2020, according to Pregame.com.
The moral of the story: Fade Tom Brady at your own peril.
BET: Buccaneers +3 (-105) & ‘sprinkle’ on the +150 ML at DraftKings Sportsbook
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