Atlanta Falcons (4-11) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5)
Atlanta has won six out of the last eight in the series; however, the Buccaneers rallied from 17-down to take a 31-27 win in Mercedes-Benz Stadium two weeks ago. After the Buccaneers only tallied 60 yards in the first half, Tom Brady erupted in the second as he led the Bucs on touchdown drives in each of the first three drives in the second half. Brady finished with 390 passing yards. Atlanta leads 28-26 in the overall series.
Vs. The Spread:
The total has gone UNDER in five of the Falcons’ last six games and it has gone UNDER in five of the Falcons’ last six road outings as well. Tampa Bay is a good bet with the OVER when playing the NFC as 15 of the last 20 NFC games have indeed been OVER. The Buccaneers are 4-2 ATS in their last six games.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|Atlanta Falcons||+6½ (-108)||+250||O 50½ (-115)|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-6½ (-112)||-300||U 50½ (-105)|
The Falcons once again gave a good account of themselves before falling inside of two minutes to Kansas City, 17-14. Matt Ryan threw for 300 yards and two touchdown passes to Hayden Hurst and Laquon Treadwell.
Tom Brady threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns as the Buccaneers tamed the Lions, 47-7. Tampa Bay connected on seven touchdowns on the first nine possessions as Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski had two touchdown catches each.
When the Falcons Have the Ball:
The offseason is going to be an enigma with the potential hiring of a new coach although Raheem Morris deserves a chance to run his own program once again and the opportunity to assemble a staff and talent on the field. Matt Ryan has had another solid season with 24 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions while completing 65 percent of his passes.
Even with Julio Jones being available in only nine games, Calvin Ridley has turned into a Pro Bowler while Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst have cemented places on this roster.
The Buccaneers feel like they are in a must win situation as they are trying profusely to lock down the top wild card which will send them to the “NFC Least” winner and give them almost what will amount to a play-in game to get to the NFC semifinals.
The Bucs’ defense held the punchless Lions to 186 yards. They stopped the run in Atlanta the week before as the Falcons only rushed for 37 yards. Devin White (140) and Lavonte’ David (109) have had stellar years as the Buccaneers top two tacklers. White checks in with nine sacks, 15 tackles-for-loss and 16 quarterback hits.
When the Buccaneers Have the Ball:
Tom Brady has been criticized but then he is through 15 games with 36 touchdowns against only 11 interceptions as he has had a learning curve with coach Bruce Arians and his own Buccaneers teammates.
The key is for the offensive line to keep him from duress and to keep him upright as he has been sacked 20 times. Mike Evans has benefitted beautifully from Brady’s arrival as he has accrued a franchise record 13 receiving touchdowns this season. He had 10 catches for 181 yard and two touchdowns last week. Chris Godwin loves facing the Falcons as he has 23 receptions for 390 yards and six receiving touchdowns in his last four games vs. Atlanta.
The Falcons’ defense is 31st in the NFL against the pass as it gives up 287 yards through the air. Once Brady settled in the second half, the Falcons defense was on it’s heels for the remainder of the game. Scheming for the same team when you are at this big of a disadvantage is a nightmare when there are only two weeks between games. Ryan and the offense has to figure out ways to score on the Tampa defense with consistency and to keep this defense on the sideline.
Winner: Tampa Bay (-6½) 35, Atlanta 20
Over-Under: Take OVER 50½