Atlanta Falcons (2-6, 3-5 ATS) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7, 3-5 ATS)

*ATS= against the spread

BETDAQ Line: Atlanta -2.5 (46.5)

Significant Injuries

Atlanta: WR Harry Douglas (questionable– foot), DE Jonathan Massaquoi (questionable– foot), RB Antone Smith (questionable– neck), OT Jonathan Scott (out– hamstring)

Tampa Bay: LB Lavonte David (questionable– knee), WR Vincent Jackson (questionable– knee), DE Michael Johnson (questionable– hand), LB Brandon Magee (questionable– knee), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (questionable– thumb), DT Akeem Spence (questionable– hamstring), TE Luke Stocker (questionable– hip), OT Anthony Collins (doubtful– hip), RB Doug Martin (doubtful– ankle), CB Alterraun Verner (doubtful– hamstring), G Kadeem Edwards (out– foot)

Recent Trends

Atlanta is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games vs. NFC South opponents

Atlanta is 0-4 ATS in their last 4 road games

Atlanta is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall

Tampa Bay is 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games vs. NFC opponents

Tampa Bay is 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games following a loss

Tampa Bay is 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games vs. a team with a losing record

The home team is 5-1-1 ATS in the last 7 meetings between these 2 teams

The UNDER is 4-0 in Atlanta’s last 4 games overall

The UNDER is 4-1 in Tampa Bay’s last 5 games vs. a team with a losing record

The OVER is 6-2 in Tampa Bay’s last 8 games vs. NFC South opponents

Three reasons to back Atlanta

1. You want concrete proof that Atlanta is better than Tampa Bay? Well, it actually exists: these teams met in Week 3– same rosters, same coaches, everything– and the Falcons cruised to a 56-14 win. That’s right, these teams met less than two months ago and Atlanta won by FORTY-TWO POINTS. I rest my case.

2. The Falcons rank 8th in total offense and 7th in passing offense, as Matt Ryan is averaging 280 pass yards per game and the team has been getting steady production from veteran running back Steven Jackson. This week they’ll be facing a Tampa defense that ranks 32nd (a.k.a. dead last) in both yards allowed and points allowed, so…. (this is when you’re supposed to remember that Ryan and the Falcons hung 56 points on the Bucs a few weeks ago)

3. The Bucs have a horrific defense that is allowing a league-worst 399 yards and 30.6 points per game. Making matters worse is the fact that several of their best defensive players– linebacker Lavonte David, end Michael Johnson, cornerback Alterraun Verner, and others– are injured and may be forced to miss Sunday’s game. It’s difficult to imagine the depleted Bucs defense having any success against the high-flying Falcons.

Three reasons to back Tampa Bay

1. The Bucs have been competitive since their Week 7 bye, losing in overtime to Minnesota in Week 8 and taking Cleveland down to the wire last week before losing 22-17. Now they get the struggling Falcons, a team that’s lost 5 straight games overall and has failed to cover in their last 4 road games. The home team is 5-1-1 against the number in the last 7 meetings between these division rivals, and the Bucs are well-positioned to keep that streak going.

2. Tampa will be turning to veteran Josh McCown at quarterback this week, which can only be a good thing based on the way Mike Glennon has played recently and the high level of competence that McCown displayed in an extended stint as Chicago’s starter last season. McCown will be facing a porous Falcons defense that has surrendered 22 points or more in 7 of their 8 games this season.

3. Where’s the “hidden value” here? In the matchup of the Tampa defense vs. the Atlanta offense, that’s where. The Bucs have quietly (veeery quietly) played good defense at home this season, surrendering 20 points or fewer in 3 of their 4 home games. The Atlanta offense, meanwhile, piled up most of their stats in the first month of the season and has been sinking ever since. Since Week 6 the Falcons have averaged just 13.6 points per game, so the supposed advantage that the Atlanta offense has over the Tampa defense may not turn out to be an advantage at all.


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