Tampa Bay at St. Louis (-5.5)

December has been a reality check month for Tampa Bay’s rookie QB Mike Glennon, who has registered just a 64 passer rating since Dec. 1 while facing Carolina, Buffalo and San Francisco, three teams that rank No. 8, No. 5 and No. 2, respectively, in Defensive Passer Rating.

This week, Glennon faces a St. Louis defense that ranks just No. 24 in Defensive Passer Rating, but has our No. 10 Defensive Hogs (No. 6 in forcing Negative Pass Plays, with 42 sacks). Last week, St. Louis held Drew Brees to an 80.4 passer rating while limiting the high-flying Saints’ offense to just 16 points.

The Rams just finished running a schedule gauntlet featuring five consecutive playoff-caliber teams. St. Louis won three of those five games, all in blowout-type fashion.

Backup QB Kellen Clemens (78 passer rating) threw five TD passes and zero interceptions in the three wins, and threw one TD pass and three interceptions in the Rams’ two losses, proving once again that in the NFL, if you can pass the ball effectively, you’ve always got a shot. And if you can’t, you don’t.

Tampa Bay’s defense has bounced back nicely from some early season struggles, as the Bucs have gone 4-2 over the past six weeks. Tampa Bay now ranks No. 10 in Defensive Passer Rating—much closer to where the Bucs thought their pass defense would be after their offseason spending spree to upgrade the secondary.

The Quality Stats comparisons are tight, for the most part. The Bucs have the better pass defense, and they also have very good Defensive Hogs.

The Rams have a solid edge on the Relativity Index and own a huge mismatch in the trenches, where Tampa Bay has our No. 30-ranked Offensive Hogs, a unit that should be totally overmatched against the Rams’ dynamic Defensive Hogs. 

St. Louis has also been killing it at home lately, while Tampa Bay is just 1-5 on the road.

Pick: St. Louis 27, Tampa Bay 16