Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 11th, 1:00pm EST
Where: Georgia Dome - Atlanta, GA
by Bob, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TB +3 / ATL -3
Over/Under Total: 47.5
We finally got our football fix this past week when the college season kicked off. I am more of a college fan than a pro fan myself. Do not get me wrong, I love the NFL, but this past weekend I was in heaven. With that said, I know many of you do not really care much about the college season and have been looking forward to the NFL. Well, your time has come! The NFL season kicks off this week and the first game that I have been asked to break down for you is the NFC South game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons.
Tampa and Atlanta have been rivals for quite sometime. It is not as heated of a rivalry as the Falcons and Saints, but trust me, these teams are certainly not fond of each other. Last season, the Falcons were upset twice by the Bucs and in 2016, both of these teams think they have a shot to overtake the defending NFC South and NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. What a better way to start the season not just 1-0 but 1-0 within the division. That is what is on the minds of both teams in this showdown.
The line opens with Atlanta as the three point favorite at home while the total points are set at 47.5 combined. Atlanta seems to be getting much of the early action. As of Monday evening, 61% of the early action is on the Falcons to cover in their season opener. Another 55% likes this game to go over the posted total. Much of this can be attested to the fact that the Falcons have Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonte Freeman while Tampa has a maturing Jameis Winston and Doug Martin, to go along with some pretty good receivers.
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The Atlanta Falcons are favored in this game, but in order to get the win, they have a lot of work to do. For the first time in his career, many of the Atlanta Falcons fans are calling for Matt Ryan's head. Going back to last season, something happened. No one knows what, but the play of Matt Ryan was well below what he is capable of. Redzone turnovers were the kiss of death for the Dirty Birds last season, and in the pre-season this year, it looked like much of the same. Is it Matt Ryan? Is it the fact that the Falcons still do not have a great offensive line, although they are getting better. Is it the playcalling of second year offensive coordinator, Kyle Shannahan? I, myself, as an Atlanta fan has questioned some of the positions he put Matt Ryan in. But what I truly think is that its everyone. The entire TEAM needs to step up and play better. The Dan Quinn Era come out in style last year. The Falcons started the season 5-0 and the entire league was witnessing what could have been a new contender. Well, the Falcons went on to fall on their faces losing eight of their last eleven games, and in four of those losses, the Falcons had a double digit lead in the second half. This is a new season, and Atlanta needs to forget the past. Start fresh and learn to finish games. The key players for Atlanta in week one are the usual suspects: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonte Freeman and on the defensive side, Vic Beasley needs to have a breakout second season as well as the rest of the defensive core unit. The Falcons need to get Freeman off and running. Take the pressure off Ryan, take the pressure off the defense. Atlanta needs long drives to shorten this game and keep the Tampa offense on the sideline. Not that Tampa Bay's offense is elite, but you also do not want to let Doug Martin and Jameis Winston get going either. Atlanta MUST control this game to win.
Tampa Bay started out slow last season with a rookie QB, but as the season went on they got better and better. Coming into 2016, many experts think that they could seriously be a contender for the NFC South title, especially if Carolina plays below expectations. Tampa's success will rest on the arm and leadership of Winston and also the running ability of Doug Martin. If Martin can stay healthy and have a big year, I think he and Winston can carry this offense a long way. This game, this weekend against Atlanta, the defense needs to show out. Get to Matt Ryan. If Ryan is pressured, he can and will make mistakes. That is the key, the defensive front. Pressure Ryan, stop Freeman. Game over.
As a Falcons fan, from what I have seen over the last season and this pre season, I just do not trust them to cover a spread...not yet. I do not think this team is far off from being a really good team, but in week one, I am going to go against the public opinion and my heart. Take Tampa.
Bob's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus the three! Bet this game and ALL college/pro football games at reduced odds -105! Dump your overpriced bookie today and start reaping the benefits! --> 5Dimes.
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