It’s a matchup between the NFC Champions from 2019 and 2020 as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head West to take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday (11/19/23). Get Buccaneers vs. 49ers odds, picks and predictions below as our best bet is under 41.5 points.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Francisco 49ers Prediction
After offseason speculation that the Buccaneers would tank this year in an effort to secure the services of Caleb Williams, they came out and started the season 3-1, completely flipping that narrative. Then came a four-game losing streak, putting them in the precarious position of too many wins to tank, but trending away from the playoff picture. A recent win over the Tennessee Titans has Tampa just a half game back in the NFC South.
The 49ers have gone through a somewhat similar trajectory, albeit with very different expectations headed into the season. After coming a game, and several quarterback injuries, away from a Super Bowl appearance, the Niners were viewed as contenders in a weak NFC. They came roaring out of the gates with a dominant 5-0 start. But injuries and regression caught up at the same time en route to a three-game losing streak. Now, as health begins to return a bit for San Francisco, it picked up a much-needed blowout win over the Jaguars. Like the Bucs, the Niners are back on track to achieve their goals.
In a way, this is a great spot to sell high on the Niners. But we’re going to do so from a specific angle. The defense under Steve Wilks should be able to handle the Bucs offense, which has some ability to produce in the passing game. The Bucs will be entirely one-dimensional given their weakness in the rushing department compared to the Niners’ talent in that arena. So instead of the Bucs’ end of the spread, let’s back the under. The Niners had a great offensive game against the Jaguars, but it’s hard to imagine them replicating that performance against Tampa.
The Niners ran for 144 yards against the Jaguars, which is how they want to play, based around ground dominance. It will be hard to establish themselves in the trenches against a Tampa defense that hangs its hat on stopping the run. The Bucs rank top of the league in EPA against the run, seventh when it comes to DVOA and sixth with 87.2 rush yards allowed per game. Vita Vea is one of the most dominant run-stoppers in the sport, and seasoned linebacker Lavonte David is a great anchor in the second level.
This bet falls apart if the Bucs go on a scoring tear, and while I’m about as big of a Baker Mayfield supporter as can be, I just don’t see it here. The Niners’ greatest weakness is their secondary. But with Chase Young settling in across from Nick Bosa, the pass rush might not let Mayfield take advantage. Mayfield is a solid passer under pressure relative to league average. But with three big-time throws to four turnover-worthy plays on those snaps, he definitely isn’t at his best. Paired with a total inability to run the ball, it’s hard to imagine Tampa pushing this number over either.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Francisco 49ers Prediction: Under 41.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Francisco 49ers Best Odds
The Niners are 11.5 point favorites at home, or -650 on the moneyline. The Bucs are +450 to pull off the upset, while both sides of the total of 41.5 are set at -110.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Francisco 49ers Key Injuries
All-Pro offensive lineman Trent Williams is still dealing with an injury for the 49ers, and his health will be a huge determining factor in their performance. For Tampa Bay, key contributors Mike Evans, Devin White, and Carlton Davis are all banged up.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Francisco 49ers Key Matchups
With the ground game shut off, the Bucs will look to move the ball through the air, while the Niners will also look for passing lanes as a workaround for Tampa’s own excellent run defense.
Buccaneers Pass Catchers vs. Niners Secondary
Since we’ve already talked about that fearsome San Francisco pass rush, let’s take a look at how their achilles heel, the secondary, matches up with a solid, veteran pass-catching group for Tampa. Of course, the centerpiece is surefire Hall of Famer Mike Evans, who is averaging over 17 yards per catch and has scored six times. Chris Godwin leads the team with 44 catches and continues to be a great second option.
The Niners’ excellent pressure rate on a very low blitz rate has protected a mediocre secondary. But if Mayfield can get the ball out fast, he may be able to find success. Charvarius Ward is still a solid top corner and Talanoa Hufanga is some great help over the top. Beyond that star duo, there’s really not a lot of depth. Seasoned pros like Evans and Godwin will certainly find space if given time to do so.
49ers Air Game vs.Buccaneers Pass Defense
Despite the fact that Brock Purdy has been pressured on just about 38% of his dropbacks, those snaps account for nine of his 14 turnover-worthy plays. The interceptions aren’t showing up yet on those plays, but that regression will come. It will be imperative for the Niners to protect him against an average Tampa pass rush.
Of course, the Niners have one of the best receiving groups in the sport between Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and of course McCaffrey, so Purdy will have plenty of options against a Tampa secondary that has also had some issues. Antoine Winfield Jr. continues to be a real rock for this unit at safety, but it’s really hard to point to any cornerback who has had a great season for Tampa, especially as Carlton Davis has dealt with some injuries.