An NFC South divisional clash unfolds on Week 8 Sunday as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to the Georgia Dome to do battle with the 6-1 Atlanta Falcons. Though the Falcons enter with an impressive record so far this season, they still will have to contend with the equally impressive Carolina Panthers, who sit at an undefeated 6-0. Atlanta has probably played a tad worse than their record indicates, with some especially sloppy outings of late. Last week the Falcons looked very mediocre against a lowly Titans squad, and you can bet they’ll be amped up and ready to get back on track in Week 8. It’s always great when football is on, and Week 8 should be a dandy. Read on below for this Bucs/Falcons preview and the official prediction.
Buccaneers vs. Falcons Betting Odds:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7 (-105)
@ Atlanta Falcons -7 (-115)
Over 48.5 (-110)
Under 48.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Buccaneers vs. Falcons Pick:
Despite struggling of late and showing some key lapses in their recent outings, this spread is surprisingly low in my opinion. Atlanta is a much better team than Tampa Bay, and to only lay one score at home seems a bit off. The Bucs are focused more on securing a high draft pick than winning football games, while the Falcons enter this contest a motivated and hungry bunch trying to keep pace with Carolina for the division lead.
Matt Ryan in particular was quite bad last week. He can be much better and is expected to show that on Sunday. Tampa Bay has a terrible secondary and their personnel in this area is likely the worst in the league. Julio Jones seems a bit healthier now, and expect the Ryan-to-Jones connection to be in fine form against Tampa.
Devonta Freeman has been quite the revelation as well for the Falcons. He’s been a lead-back in every sense of the term and has been dominant of late. Even though Tampa is fairly solid at stopping the run, Freeman has emerged as one of the game’s top runners and should be able to find holes and explode through them. Tampa is really going to need to focus on not getting burned by the deep ball, so look for them to spend a lot of energy worrying about that, allowing Freeman some freedom to roam.
Atlanta is going to put up their fair share of points in this one, and I think it’s reasonable to suggest the Bucs will struggle to keep pace. Jameis Winston has had some success in his rookie campaign, although it’s been limited and wildly inconsistent. Atlanta boasts the 8th ranked secondary in the NFL and should definitely give Winston some trouble. Additionally, Atlanta has really made some improvements to their rush defense, and they’ve only let one opponent exceed 80 rushing yards in all seven of their games thus far.
This spread was at -9 a few weeks ago, but somehow has come down to just 7 as we approach kickoff. The Bucs have made improvements of late, while the Falcons have looked mediocre – but there’s still a huge disparity in talent here. The Falcons have received their wake-up call and will be ready for a big outing against a divisional rival on Sunday. Tampa has played very few opponents this season who offer the quality Atlanta does, and expect the Falcons to roll comfortably in Week 8.
PICK = Falcons -7 (-115)