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Bucs-Colts: Predictions, odds, how to watch Sunday’s game in Tampa

Your guide to the Tampa Bay-Indianapolis game at 1 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians stops to autograph a football for seven-year-old Jhamius Metelus, of Deerfield Beach, before the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, November 10, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians stops to autograph a football for seven-year-old Jhamius Metelus, of Deerfield Beach, before the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, November 10, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Dec. 7, 2019

Here’s what you need to know about the first of three Bucs home games over the final four weeks of the NFL season:

Bucs-Colts TV, streaming options, odds, etc.

Time: 1 p.m. ET Sunday

Place: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

TV: CBS (WTSP Channel 10 Tampa Bay)

Announcers: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta

Streaming: NFL app (locally or with a Verizon subscription); NFL Game Pass (audio only); NFL Sunday Ticket (with a Sunday Ticket subscription).

Radio: 97.9 FM in Tampa Bay (Bucs radio affiliates can be found here).

Officiating crew: Referee Adrian Hill (10 years); Umpire Roy Ellison (17 years); Line judge Mark Stewart (2 years); Side judge Jim Quirk (10 years); Back judge Greg Meyer (18 years); Field judge Land Clark (2 years); Down judge David Oliver (3 years).

Odds: The Bucs are favored by 2.5 points (over/under 48 points), per Caesars.

Related: MORE BUCS: The latest on the Buccaneers

Predictions

Bucs continue to stack them up

Eduardo A. Encina, Bucs beat/pro sports enterprise writer, @EddieintheYard: The Bucs are playing the Colts at the right time. Indianapolis comes to Tampa dealing with a lot of pressure. They are trailing the division-leading Texans by two games and one game out of the last AFC wild-card spot. They need to win, but they’ve lost four of their last five games and will be without their top rusher (USF product Marlon Mack), receiver (T.Y. Hilton) and tight end (Eric Ebron). Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett is under fire, mainly because he’s not Andrew Luck, which isn’t his fault. Brissett threw two costly interceptions in last week’s loss to the Titans, so the Bucs’ suddenly ball-hawking secondary could have some more opportunities for takeaways. Bucs 27-24

Who has the edge? Watch the sidelines

Thomas Bassinger, sports data reporter, @tometrics: For a late-season game in which the Bucs have all but been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, this is a surprisingly compelling game. Lots of intriguing storylines. There’s Bruce Arians against his former team, the team that gave him his first crack at being a head coach. There’s former USF standout running back Marlon Mack’s return to Tampa. There’s Vita Vea vs. Quenton Nelson. The Bucs and Colts are pretty evenly matched, with Tampa Bay boasting the slightly better pass offense and Indianapolis countering with the better pass defense (it held the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in check earlier this season). The matchup I’ll be watching won’t necessarily take place on the field; it’ll take place on the sidelines. This one could very well come down to which coach better manages in-game situations such as fourth downs. Frank Reich has the edge there. Colts 26-23

Believe it or not, the Bucs defense could be the difference

John Romano, columnist, @romano_tbtimes: On the surface, this looks like two teams heading in opposite directions. After a 5-2 start, the Colts are 1-4. And after a 2-6 start, the Bucs are 3-1. What’s important to remember, however, is how much effect schedules have played in this narrative. Those three recent victories by the Bucs were all against teams with losing records. And three of those four Indianapolis losses were against teams with winning records. So what does it all mean for Sunday’s game? Presumably, a very competitive game. The Colts are one of the better running teams in the NFL, but Tampa Bay has only allowed one back to go over 100 yards this season. That means the Colts will need to rely on quarterback Jacoby Brissett more than usual. If the growth of Tampa Bay’s secondary is real, the Bucs should survive. Bucs 28-27.

Bucs will get their best shot

Rick Stroud, Bucs beat, @NFLStroud: The Colts are 6-6 and have lost four of their past five games, but this is a better football team than the Cardinals, Falcons and Jaguars. It’s also probably their last chance to remain in the AFC playoff picture. So the Bucs are going to get their best shot. Even so, it feels as if the Bucs finally have a little wind in their sails. They have won three of their last four games and two straight.The defense is playing better with the growth of the young players in the secondary and Devin White is healthy and making the kind of plays the Bucs expected. The Colts are a heavy run first team, which should play into the Bucs’ strength of stopping the run. As always, it will come down to whether Winston can protect the football. But it feels like the Bucs could win their third in a row with a chance to get to 7-7 next week at Detroit. Bucs 27-24.

Vita Vea vs. The Road Grader

Mike Sherman, deputy editor | sports, @mikesherman: It’s Vita Vea vs. Quenton Nelson in a game that could finalize the cost/benefit of Jameis Winston’s last-second touchdown pass to Chris Godwin in the 2017 season-finale. That 31-24 win over the Saints dropped the Bucs behind the Colts in the 2018 NFL draft order. Indianapolis, drafting sixth overall, picked Nelson, the road-grading guard from Notre Dame. The Bucs dealt the No. 7 pick to Buffalo, which took quarterback Josh Allen. The Bucs took nose tackle Vea at No. 12 and used the two second-round picks that came in the deal to cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis. The Vea-Nelson matchup could sway whether the Colts mount a running threat. Bucs 28-27.

Storylines

“There will always be a little blue horseshoe in my heart.” (Eduardo A. Encina)

Week 14 NFL picks (Mike Sherman)

Inside Cameron Brate’s unique jersey collection (Rick Stroud)

Is Shaq about to surpass Sapp? (Rick Stroud)

Arians: The Bucs are in the playoffs (Rick Stroud)

Bucs revisionist history (Mike Sherman)

Ryan Jensen honors long-lasting connection with a child (Eduardo. A. Encina)

The other Bucs’ My Cause My Cleats stories (Eduardo A. Encina)

Arians isn’t ready to decide on Winston (Rick Stroud)

Bucs uniform redesign update (Thomas Bassinger)

Is this the turnaround we’ve been waiting for? (Thomas Bassinger)

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Previewing Bucs-Colts

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