Thursday Night Football Best Bets by numberFire - Week 8

It's a Naval Battle! Find our all our bloody interesting stats about Buccaneers/Vikings and more inside.

Avast, mateys! Fans of the Pirates of the North, the Vikings, are ye? Or how abouts the south, those squirmy Buccaneers of yonder Tampa Bay? Well come one, come all, lads and lasses, because I'm about to tell a tale.

This tale may not be one that yer landlubbers ears has heard, for it contains the greatest numbers and insights this side of the Carribean. But if you listen closely, and you should my friend, you should, then you will gain riches beyond your wildest dreams.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6.5) at Minesota Vikings

Aye, so the spread has caught your eye, has it? Well beware of the Buccaneers' defenses, because nobody sinks their ship that easily.

You see, Tampa Bay has numberFire's #10 opponent-adjusted defense so far this season, directly ahead of the Giants, Dolphins, and Redskins. The Bucs are especially adept at stopping the pass; only Alfred Morris of the Redskins has been able to put up more than 40 yards rushing on Tampa in their last four games.

It's not too often that you'll see a top-ten defense as an underdog in a game. But when it happens, the riches favor those with the lesser odds.

Week Matchup Score ATS Winner
Week 7 SF/SEA 13-6 SF SEA +7.5
Week 7 NO/TB 35-28 NO NO -1.5
Week 6 NE/SEA 24-23 SEA SEA +4
Week 5 DEN/NE 31-21 NE NE -6
Week 5 CAR/SEA 16-12 SEA SEA +2
Week 5 PHI/PIT 16-14 PIT PHI +4
Week 4 CHI/DAL 34-18 CHI CHI +3
Week 3 DAL/TB 16-10 DAL TB +6.5
Week 3 ATL/SD 27-3 ATL ATL +3
Week 3 DEN/HOU 31-25 HOU HOU -6
Week 3 GB/SEA 14-12 SEA SEA +3
Week 2 CHI/GB 23-10 GB GB -5
Week 2 NYG/TB 41-34 NYG TB +7.5
Week 2 ARI/NE 20-18 ARI ARI +13.5
Week 2 DAL/SEA 27-7 SEA SEA +3
Week 2 ATL/DEN 27-21 ATL ATL -3
Week 1 GB/SF 30-22 SF SF +5
Week 1 CAR/TB 16-10 TB TB +3
Week 1 ARI/SEA 20-16 SEA SEA -3

As you can see, the top-ten defense underdogs not only have gone 13-6 against the spread so far this season, but they have also won nine of those 19 games straight up (including Tampa's own Week 1 victory). And of the losses against the spread, all but one (Arizona's last-second Week 1 loss to Seattle) came against teams currently in numberFire's top seven opponent-adjusted offenses. The Vikings aren't up to that level; they're numberFire's #15 offense.

What is it with those 2010 Browns?

numberFire likes to compare current teams with their historical counterparts from the past dozen years, pairing them up based on game performance and statistical breakdown similarities. Usually, we can put these to good use in figuring out who should win a certain game. And we've crunched the numbers to see who these teams are the most similar to, which you can find on their team pages.

We found that the Minnesota Vikings are most similar to the 2010 Cleveland Browns. And we found that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are most similar to the 2010 Cleveland Browns. No, that was not a typo.

Both teams compare strongly to the 2010 Browns; the Buccaneers have a 95.38% match with Cleveland while Minnesota has a 94.98% match. It makes sense; all three teams had weaker, younger quarterbacks, a strong running game (Peyton Hillis for Madden cover!), a defense that was good but not great, and a head coach that you're never quite sure about. Of course, the 2012 Vikings already have as many wins as the 2010 Browns, but that's neither here nor there?

So what can you learn from this fact? Namely, these teams have very similar profiles. In fact, they almost have identical profiles. And picking out a winner may not be as easy as the TB (+235) moneyline may make it seem.

Doug Martin with 65.5 rushing yards: Under (-105)

The past two weeks, Doug Martin has gone off for two straight games of over five yards per carry. With 76 yards against Kansas City and 85 yards against New Orleans, Martin has started to show the consistency that plagued him in the beginning part of the season.

It will be tough for him to do it again.

In order to reach 65.5 rushing yards, Martin can either have a high quantity or rushes or high quality rushes. The first high quantity metric does not look to be in Martin's favor, as an already limited rushing team (only 44% of offensive plays are rushes) has been giving LeGarrette Blount an average of six carries per game since Week 4 while Martin has averaged just over 12 during the same span. The quality aspect does not look to be in his favor either; against defenses not in the bottom ten in the league, his highest ypc average in a game is 4.1 and his longest rush is 17 yards.