Quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs are scheduled to face the host Arizona Cardinals to close out play on Christmas night in Week 16 of the 2022 NFL season.
Cardinals vs. Bucs Betting Lines: Point Spread, Totals, Moneyline
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NFL · Sun (12/25) @ 8:23pm ET
|State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona|
Where the Cardinals and Bucs Stand Heading Into Week 16
Tampa Bay is 6-8 (and a league-worst 3-10-1 versus the spread), but still enters this week’s play with a one-game lead in the NFC South over New Orleans, Carolina, and Atlanta with three weeks left in the season. All three of the Bucs’ division rivals are underdogs playing in the early Saturday afternoon time slot.
Arizona, meanwhile, is 4-10 (6-8 against the spread) and one of five NFL teams already eliminated from postseason play entering Week 16. Plus, the Cardinals are down to their third-string QB, Trace McSorley.
McSorley will be making his first career start since entering the league in 2019 after being drafted in the sixth round by Baltimore out of Penn State. In an extended relief appearance last week against Denver’s top-ranked pass defense (according to passer rating), he was 7-for-15 for 95 yards and two interceptions. His passer rating of 27.8 was the third worst this season for any QB with at least 10 throws in a game.
The Bucs’ pass defense ranks 24th.
Two weeks ago out West, the Bucs faced another QB making his first start and were 35-7 losers in San Francisco to the 49ers and rookie QB Brock Purdy. Then last week, Tampa Bay blew a 17-0 lead at home versus Cincinnati and was defeated 34-23.
In that collapse versus the Bengals, Brady committed four turnovers (two INTs, two fumbles) on four straight second-half possessions (to go with a bungled fake punt), all of which contributed to Cincinnati having a 26-yard advantage in average starting field position, the largest differential for any squad in a game this year. In Brady’s 13 previous games, he totaled seven giveaways.
If the Cardinals have an edge, it would appear to be in the running game with a norm of 4.4 a carry behind leading rusher James Conner. By comparison, the Bucs average 3.3 a rush, which is the worst in the league by 0.4 yards. But Arizona’s injury-ravaged offensive line better produce for the Cardinals to have a chance.
Cardinals vs. Bucs Injuries
Original starter Kyler Murray was lost for the season with a knee injury two weeks ago, and backup Colt McCoy is in concussion protocol after taking a hit last week.
Three-time Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson is on IR and OLT DJ Humphries, who made the Pro Bowl last season, is out with a back injury. Two other starters were limited or didn’t participate in drills at midweek.
Line moves: NFL Week 16 odds
The Bucs catch a break in the schedule after playing a pair of teams that are 10-4 and now go against a 4-10 squad that has been in a tailspin since finishing last season by losing five of its final six games, including a 34-11 wipeout loss to the LA Rams in the wild-card round.
Under normal circumstances — in this case, with a regular starting QB as the opponent — the Bucs would appear vulnerable since already this season they have lost games as a 9.5-point favorite (at Pittsburgh) and as a 13-point choice (at Carolina). But now they go against a QB who has yet to prove he’s NFL material in a regular season game.
McSorley becomes the ninth QB this season to make his first career start. The others went 3-5 SU/ATS with a cumulative four TD passes and five INTs.
The Bucs would warrant a big, big edge if standout Vita Vea, a 6-foot-4, 347-pound DT, returns to the lineup after sitting out last week with a calf injury. He’s not only a superior run-stopper but has a team-high 6.5 sacks. TB also is hopeful star OLT Tristan Wirfs can get back in the lineup after injuring an ankle four weeks ago.
One more thing: Brady will get to go against a Cardinals pass defense that ranks third-worst in the league (passer rating) and has allowed 25 TD throws, tied for the second-most. In Brady’s outing against Kansas City’s league-worst air defense in Week 4, he had his best game of the year, with three TD throws and no INTs. Of course, much of that came while trying to overcome a large deficit.
Unless the Cardinals pick up a Baker Mayfield clone on waivers in the coming days to play quarterback, they appear to be a team that will struggle to gain 200 yards.
Forecast: Bucs 28, Cardinals 9