Bengals vs Buccaneers Week 15 Picks and Predictions: Mixon Exploits Poor Bucs' Run Defense

Cincinnati heads into Tampa Bay riding a five-game win streak, while the Bucs are in an unexpected dogfight for their division. With Tampa having struggled against the run, our NFL betting picks are backing Mixon to dominate Sunday.

Ashley Anderson - Betting Analyst
Ashley Anderson • Betting Analyst
Dec 18, 2022 • 08:40 ET • 4 min read
Joe Mixon Cincinnati Bengals NFL
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals are riding a five-game win streak into their matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Last season’s Super Bowl runner-ups will pay a visit to Tom Brady and company, who are coming off an embarrassing, 35-7 rout by the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday, which handed the Bucs their second loss in three games.

Cincinnati is currently listed as a 3.5-point road favorite in its matchup with the top team in the NFC South. It owns a 9-4 record but is second in the AFC North via a tiebreaker with the Baltimore Ravens, while the Bucs are barely hanging onto a lead in their division with a 6-7 mark.

Will Cincy continue to stay hot as it clashes with a mediocre Tampa squad reeling from injuries on defense? Below we offer our best free NFL betting picks and predictions for the Bengals vs. Buccaneers in Week 15 of the 2022 NFL season.

Bengals vs Buccaneers best odds

Bengals vs Buccaneers picks and predictions

Last Sunday, Cincinnati notched its fifth-straight win behind a 96-yard rushing performance by running back Joe Mixon and a dominant, 119-yard receiving outing by Ja’Marr Chase.

While Joe Burrow’s favorite target is back in action and terrorizing defenses as he’s accustomed to, the offense suffered a pair of significant injuries, with Tee Higgins exiting the Browns win in the second quarter due to a lingering hamstring injury and Tyler Boyd leaving early in the game with a dislocated finger.

With neither of those receivers available for a majority of the game, Burrow was forced to rely heavily on Chase and turn to a different cast of characters, including receiver Trenton Irwin (two catches for 58 yards and a touchdown), wideout Trent Taylor (one reception for 34 yards), and tight end Mitchell Wilcox (one catch for 10 yards). Starting tight end Hayden Hurst was sidelined with a calf injury.

Burrow finished the contest with 239 yards on 18 of 33 passing with two touchdown passes and an interception against Cleveland’s 16th-ranked pass defense.

But on Sunday, he’ll confront the sixth-best pass defense in the league (195.3 yards allowed), and with key receivers potentially missing, Burrow will likely run into some issues.

That’s where Mixon will come into play, as he matches up with a Buccaneers' defense surrendering 125.4 yards per game. The lead back missed the previous two weeks with a concussion but looked sharp in his return against the Browns, averaging 6.9 yards per carry with a 40-yard breakaway run near the end of the third quarter.

Mixon averages 4.1 yards per carry for the season and broke free for 153 rushing yards and five total touchdowns against the Carolina Panthers in his third to last game before entering concussion protocol in a 20-yard rushing performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11.

The Bucs are giving up 4.6 rushing yards per attempt and just let Christian McCaffrey run for 119 yards on 14 carries (8.5 YPC) in their 35-7 loss to San Francisco.

With the Bengals’ pass attack limited on Sunday, Mixon will be the X-factor and should get plenty of work in the backfield. Look for him to top 59 rushing yards against the injury-ravaged Tampa defense, who may be without five defensive starters and is especially banged up at linebacker.

My best bet: Joe Mixon Over 58.5 rushing yards (-115)

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Bengals vs Buccaneers spread analysis

The line for the Bengals vs. Bucs matchup opened at 3.5 points at a majority of sportsbooks and has remained steady throughout the week. Cincinnati has been red-hot against the spread in 2022, going a league-best 10-3 ATS overall and 7-3 as the favorite. On the other hand, the Buccaneers are 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight home games and 1-9-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall. They’re also 0-5-1 ATS in their last six games following a straight up loss.

Cincinnati and Tampa Bay have not met since 2018, when Andy Dalton was QB of the Bengals under then-head coach Marvin Lewis and Jameis Winston spearheaded the Bucs offense, then led by head coach Dirk Koetter.

Both franchises have since undergone a massive overhaul, with two Super Bowl appearances combined since 2020.

But this season, Tampa Bay is a shell of itself and is barely in the playoff hunt. The Bucs have also failed to cover in their last three games. Cincinnati has covered in each of the last five games, including a 27-24 victory as a home underdog against Kansas City in Week 13.

Moreover, the Bengals are 4-1 ATS vs. teams with a losing record, 13-3 ATS in their last 16 road games, and 20-6 ATS in their last 26 games overall.

Bengals vs Buccaneers Over/Under analysis

The total for this game opened at 42.5 at most books and has since moved two points in favor of the Over.

The Over has hit in three of Cincinnati’s last five vs. a team with a losing record, while the Under is 4-1 in Tampa Bay’s last five games overall.

The Bengals own the fourth-best passing offense in the league, but with wideouts Tee Higgins questionable and Tyler Boyd out, Cincy will need to lean heavily on 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase.

In his return in Week 13, he racked up 97 receiving yards against the Chiefs before leading all receivers with 119 yards against Cleveland last week, but the Bucs’ passing defense will be a tougher challenge for Chase.

Tampa Bay’s weakness this season has been against the run, and it showed last Sunday when San Francisco ran all over the field for 209 yards with a 5.8 yards-per-carry average. 

Cincinnati’s defense gives up 220.1 passing yards per game (20th in the NFL) but ranks 11th against the run (111 rushing yards allowed per contest).

The Bucs' offense has averaged just 13.6 points over the last three games, and the Under has hit in four of their last five matchups, while the Under is 3-0 in Cincinnati’s last three.

The Over is also 3-10 in Tampa Bay’s 13 games thus far in 2022 and 4-8-1 in Cincinnati’s games.

Bengals vs Buccaneers betting trend to know

[Stat]. Find more NFL betting trends for Bengals vs. Buccaneers.

Bengals vs Buccaneers game info

Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Date: Sunday, December 18, 2022
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
Opening odds: Buccaneers +2, 42.5

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