A 3-2 record in Week 8 has us looking for more success as the NFL kicks off its Week 9 slate with an NFC South divisional showdown from Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers were supposedly one of the teams on the proverbial upswing this season, though that hasn’t really materialized. Their defence has played nowhere near its capability and Jameis Winston has not taken that next step at the quarterback position either. As a result, the Bucs enter this game with a mediocre 3-4. The good news is that a few recent losses by the Falcons have left this division wide open. Although it’s just November – don’t get fooled, this is a massive game on a Thursday evening.
For the Falcons, they enjoyed a big comeback victory last week at home against the Packers. They enter Week 9 with a stellar 5-3 record and one that really came from nowhere. Expectations were low entering this season for coach Dan Quinn’s team and they’ve definitely exceeded them. The Falcons are a team that does many things well on both sides of the ball, and there’s a reason they remain the favourites to win the NFC South. This will be a tough game for them, but it’s must-see TV in what promises to be a tight divisional showdown. Read on below for a full game preview, and some more winning selections in what has already been a profitable start to the 2016 NFL season.
Falcons vs. Buccaneers Betting Odds:
Atlanta Falcons -4 (-115)
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers +4 (-105)
Over 51 (-110)
Under 51 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Falcons vs. Buccaneers Pick:
Heading into this game, it is clear that the Falcons’ passing game is playing some very solid football. Matt Ryan has been excellent this year and he’s been effective at spreading around the football as well. Julio Jones is dominant of course, but he really hasn’t had to be of late. For the first time in years it seems, Atlanta finally has other options downfield and as a result, their offence has thrived. This is a good thing for them as they prepare to take on an awful Buccaneers’ secondary. It is not a secret that their safeties rank very low across the entire league, and this is surely a match-up that heavily favours Ryan and the Falcons’ attack. Let’s not forget that Derek Carr set a franchise record on this defence, and don’t be stunned if Matt Ryan puts up massive numbers as well.
On the other side of the football, it has been a disappointing start to the campaign for the talented Jameis Winston and his receiving crew. Winston was supposed to take a big step in 2016, but that hasn’t really materialized. Last week he struggled with accuracy against a suspect secondary from Oakland, and he’ll receive a stiffer test in Week 9 from an improved Falcons unit. Within Atlanta’s secondary is Desmond Trufant, one of the league’s best in coverage. He’ll surely blanket Mike Evans, and the Bucs’ other options aren’t good enough to keep the chains moving on a consistent basis. Making things worse for Tampa is the fact that their ongoing carousel in the running game continues. Jacquizz Rodgers has been ruled out for Thursday night, and a couple of unknowns in Peyton Barber and Antoine Smith are supposed to fill in. This isn’t ideal at all and should play into the hands of the Falcons.
With these Thursday night games there is obviously a lot less time to prepare. More often than not I’ve found that this does work to the advantage of the more talented team – in this case for Week 9, the Falcons. With less time to prepare, talent wins out, and look for that to be the case on Thursday night. Atlanta has really improved since last season, and though this line has risen steadily, I still like backing the Falcons at four points. These teams aren’t close in terms of talent and the Bucs’ minimal homefield advantage does not scare me off. Look for another great outing from Matt Ryan, en route to a comfortable win for Atlanta.
PICK = Falcons -4 (-115)