Buccaneers vs Browns Week 12 Picks and Predictions: Tampa's Defense Provides the Edge

Although Tom Brady and the Bucs' offense has been ineffective for much of their season, Tampa Bay's defense is getting the job done and should lead the way on Sunday. Read more in our Buccaneers vs. Browns betting picks.

Rohit Ponnaiya - Betting Analyst at Covers.com
Rohit Ponnaiya • Betting Analyst
Nov 27, 2022 • 08:28 ET • 4 min read
Sean Murphy-Bunting Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL
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Week 12 in the NFL features a matchup between a pair of disappointing teams, with the Cleveland Browns hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Browns are 3-7 and will have to wait another week before the highly-anticipated debut of Deshaun Watson. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay entered the season as the NFC Championship favorite but are sitting at just .500.

The Bucs are expected to win on Sunday, with NFL betting lines opening with Tampa Bay as 3-point road favorites. Here are my best free NFL picks and predictions for Buccaneers vs. Browns on November 27.

Buccaneers vs Browns best odds

Buccaneers vs Browns picks and predictions

Both of these teams have struggled to meet expectations, with Tampa Bay underachieving on offense and the Browns disappointing on the defensive side of the ball. 

That said, the struggling Bucs offense is still better than Cleveland's pathetic defense, and there's reason to think it will get even better in the coming weeks.

Tom Brady finally has a healthy crew of wideouts to connect with after Chris Godwin and Julio Jones hauled in touchdowns last week. Meanwhile, rookie running back Rachaad White broke out with his first 100-yard game and could be an upgrade over the banged-up Leonard Fournette

On the other side of the ball, the Bucs are eighth in the league in DVOA defense, according to Football Outsiders, while the Browns are just 31st.

The gap between these two teams on offense isn't anywhere near as big as the gulf between these two on defense, which has me backing Tampa on the road. 

My best bet: Buccaneers -3.5 (-105 at DraftKings)

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Buccaneers vs Browns spread analysis

The Browns lost 31-23 to the Bills on Sunday, which was their sixth loss in their last seven games. They covered the spread just twice during that span and surrendered at least 30 points on four occasions.

The Browns are eagerly awaiting Watson to finish serving his suspension, but backup Jacoby Brissett has actually been efficient under center. The main reason for the Browns' struggles has been their awful defense which ranks 27th in pass DVOA and 32nd in rush DVOA. 

The Bucs are coming off back-to-back wins against the Seahawks and Rams, which were badly needed after a five-game stretch where they went 1-4 straight up and 0-5 against the spread. It's been a frustrating season for Brady, who has his lowest QBR since ESPN started tracking that stat in 2006.

The 45-year-old is still averaging 300.4 passing yards per game since Week 3, so he should have some success against a brutal Brown pass defense. The biggest obstacle preventing Brady from another big game through the air is the wet and windy weather expected for Sunday. 

Winds are expected to swirl at 17 mph, which could make it tricky for Brady and Brissett to sling the ball. That said, Tom made his HOF career out of getting the job done in crappy Massachusetts weather, so he should be up to the task on Sunday.

In theory, these weather conditions should favor a Browns team that loves to run the ball, but they struggled in that area last week with Nick Chubb totaling just 19 yards on 14 carries against the Bills. Meanwhile, the Browns allowed running backs Devin Singletary and James Cook to rush for 172 yards on 29 carries which isn't surprising given that they have the worst run defense in the league.

The Bucs do a much better job of defending the run (ranking 11th in the league in rush DVOA), and their offense was able to churn out yards on the ground last week, with White rumbling for 105.

They also have the second-fewest turnovers in the league (with Cleveland tied for the sixth-most), and being able to hold on to the ball will be especially important with the sloppy weather that awaits. 

Buccaneers vs Browns Over/Under analysis

The total opened at 44 and has ticked down to 41.5 after the weather news came out. The Browns have gone 4-0-1 to the Over in their last five games thanks to poor defense and an efficient offense that ranks sixth in the league in EPA/Play.

Meanwhile, the Bucs are 5-1 to the Under in their last six, with their offense struggling to move the ball and their defense playing well despite a season-ending injury to Shaq Barrett. 

Tampa Bay's offense ranks 27th in the league with just 18.3 ppg and needs to do a much better job of converting in the red zone. That said, the Bucs still have several offensive playmakers, with Brady able to air it out to the likes of Godwin and Mike Evans. Don't be surprised if, even in the messy weather, Brady tries to test a Cleveland defense that surrenders 26.9 points per game.

Buccaneers vs Browns betting trend to know

The Under is 9-2 in the Buccaneers' last 11 games versus a team with a losing record. Find more NFL betting trends for Buccaneers vs. Browns.

Buccaneers vs Browns game info

Location: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH
Date: Sunday, November 27, 2022
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. ET
Opening odds: Browns +3, 44.5 O/U

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