Atlanta Falcons (8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9 SU, 3-9-1 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time: Monday, December 18th, 8:30pm ET
Where: Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, FL
by Bob, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ATL -6 / TAM +6
Over/Under Total: 48
It certainly does not seem like we are in the 15th week of the NFL season, but we are. This has been a fun ride since early September and it is only getting better with the playoff and division races coming down the stretch. This Monday night, there is an NFC South game and one of the teams involved in this game needs this win BAD. The other is just trying to play spoiler.
This Monday night, the Atlanta Falcons will travel south to Tampa to take on the Buccaneers. Atlanta comes into this game at 8-5 on the season while Tampa enters at a very disappointing 4-9. Nothing can ever be taken for granted when these two teams play. Regardless of record, it is usually a four quarter battle. In this series, Tampa Bay has won three of the last five contests, but the Falcons have taken the last two. Also in those five games, the team that got the win, also got the cover regarding the spread.
Atlanta comes into this game as a six point road favorite over the Buccaneers. The total points are set at 48 combined between the two. On the season, the Falcons are 6-7 against the spread while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just 3-9-1. The line for the this match up started with the Falcons as a four point favorite, but since Monday, the line has increased to the six I just mentioned earlier. Still, as of late Tuesday night, even with the Falcons almost a touchdown fave on the road, nearly 67% of the action is on Atlanta to cover. I am not sure if this is because the public is starting to believe in Atlanta again or if they are really that down on the Buccaneers who have had a rough run as of late. Regardless, Atlanta is getting the love in this game and this line may go up even more before Monday night.
Entering 2017, Tampa was considered a team on the rise. A team that could compete for an NFC South title or at least the Wild Card. I was never that sold on them, but I thought this team could win at least seven or eight games in 2017. After 13 games this season, Tampa is 4-9 and with the exception of the passing game being ranked 6th in the NFL, they are a statistical mess. The Bucs have the 26th ranked rushing offense as well as the 21st ranked scoring offense. If that is not below average enough, the defense is allowing more points than the offense is scoring (24 pts per game allowed). If the 4-9 record and abysmal play on both sides of the ball is not bad enough, now there are rumblings of head coach Dirk Koetter and quarterback, Jameis Winston are not even on speaking terms at the team facility and the locker room is in shambles. This means two things in my opinion: First off, Dirk Koetter may want to get his resume updated and sent to NFL GMs around the league and secondly, this team is not ready for a Falcons team that is three wins away from repeating as NFC South champions. Tampa needs to find themselves…and quick.
The Falcons have been a roller coaster all season long. They started 3-0 then hit the skids for about a month. Since that time, they are 3-1 and are sitting in the final playoff spot in the NFC. The Falcons control their own destiny not only from a Wild Card berth standpoint, but if they win out against Tampa, Carolina, and New Orleans, they again will win the South division of the NFC. Good news is that as long as they go 2-1 in the final three games, they SHOULD easily make the post season seeing as how they hold the tie breakers over Dallas, Green Bay, Seattle, and Detroit. With two tough games coming up after this one, the Falcons do NOT want to stumble on Monday night and lose this game that is set up to be an easy win.
We all know the Falcons have many weapons on offense, but it has been the young defense as of late that has held its own. With the exception of the game at Seattle, the Falcons are holding opponents to under 20 points pretty much every week. When you combined that with an offense like this, the sky is the limit. However, the one area this season that is complete opposite of last year is the turnover margin. Last season, the Atlanta Falcons were one of the best in the NFL in getting the ball from their opponent. This year, not so much. If the Falcons have any dreams of getting another shot at the Super Bowl, this must change…quick. They may can overcome a couple of INTs or fumbles against this Tampa team, but long term that will not beat the real contenders come playoff time.
This game could go either way. I have watched this rivalry over the years and you never know how the chips will fall. I do think the Falcons have a new sense of hope and swagger after their win over the Saints. This team now knows they can win out and not only get into the post season, but they can host a playoff game. I like Atlanta on Monday night, and I like them BIG. I think Atlanta goes into Raymond James Stadium and beats Tampa from start to finish. I like the Falcons in a 33-17 type game this week. Lets also not forget, the Falcons have not played since last Thursday night when they beat New Orleans. They have pretty much had an extra week of rest how the schedule fell with the Thursday / Monday night games. This will benefit Atlanta.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: TAKE THE ATLANTA FALCONS -6 OVER THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – Where are you betting this game? Bet it for FREE by taking advantage of a 50% welcome bonus offered to new players at Bovada Sportsbook