A great NFC South matchup takes place this week between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Bucs. The Bucs are making a name for themselves, not only as a great up and coming team, but a team that are proving they can win on the road. The Falcons were in the same spot two years ago when Matt Ryan came into the league, but now they’ve proven themselves and look to bring the Bucs down back to reality.
At 5-2, the Falcons and Bucs both sit atop of the NFC South and this week one team will take full control. The story of the year in Tampa is QB Josh Freeman. Freeman has orchestrated four 4th quarter come from behind victories this season. He’s showing that he’s got the poise and leadership to one day be a very good QB in the league. While Tampa’s players other than Freeman don’t stand out individually, it’s the sum of the parts that have made them a successful team this year. A young team, young coach and a lot of heart have gotten them to 5 wins, and the Falcons will do what they can to give them a dose of reality.
What Atlanta can do, and do very well, is run the ball. Unfortunately for the Bucs, that’s been their weakness this year. Giving up almost 150 ypg on the ground, a stat that places them 30th in the league against the run, they’ll have trouble stopping Atlanta’s Michael Turner on Sunday. The Falcons rank 5th in rushing on the year, and they run exceptionally well as a team at home. In their last 3 home games, the Falcons have run for 429 yards on 80 carries. That’s an average of 5.3 yards per carry. Michael Turner is the unquestioned starter, but Jason Snelling is a great change of pace back that can be slotted in when asked.
Bucs vs. Falcons Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Tampa Bay Bucs +9.5
@ Atlanta Falcons -9.5
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Bucs vs. Falcons Prediction for Week 9 Betting:
Spread Prediction (Top Play): The Bucs are continuously surprising everyone this year with their road play. As I said before, QB Josh Freeman has put together 4 comeback victories. Two of them have been on the road, most recently last week versus the Cardinals. The Bucs will play tough, and their confidence is as high as it’s been all year. But how will the Falcons react? Well the Falcons are 2-0 at home this year, but have allowed teams to stay close. They beat the Niners by 2 in week 4 (a game which they should have lost if it wasn’t for Rowdy Roddy White’s miraculous fumble recovery in the last minute which led to the game winning FG), and they allowed the Bengals to crawl back 2 weeks ago after exploding out of the gates. Given how close the two teams are, and how competitive the Bucs have been this year, I think the points are a generous gift. The Bucs are 5-1 in their last 6 meetings, I can’t ignore that stat.
Game Total Prediction: Both teams are putting up about 20 points a game, but factor in the importance of this game and the effectiveness of both running games of late, I like the Under this week. Neither team is blowing the other out, and I like this one to be a tough battle between two of the NFC’s complete teams. The Under is 4-0 in the last 4 between these two.