Buffalo Bills (5-9, 7-6-1 ATS) at Atlanta Falcons (7-7, 9-5 ATS)
Georgia Dome Atlanta, G.A. Sunday December 27th, 1:00PM Eastern
By Jay Belle of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Bills +9/Falcons -9
The Atlanta Falcons showed a lot of character last week in a hard fought victory against New York. Early on the offense was being dominated by the Jets defense, but they managed to rally back to score a late touchdown to earn a 10-7 victory. The win put the Falcons back to the .500 mark on the season, but unfortunately their playoff chances were destroyed a day before the win when the Cowboys upset the Saints. Atlanta will now attempt to finish the year strong as they host Buffalo this Sunday inside the Georgia Dome.
The Bills are another team already out of the playoff picture as well. In fact, things are kind of a mess with the Bills. Head Coach Dick Jauron was fired after a disappointing 3-6 start and interim Coach Perry Fewell is just 2-2 since taking over. Buffalo is not only still on the hunt for a head coach heading into 2010, but they are also still awaiting some type of success from the offense that ranks a miserable 30th overall in the league. The Bills look to build some type of confidence and score another victory before the year ends. Unfortunately, Sunday’s battle in the Georgia Dome may be their best chance as they will get the undefeated Colts in the season finale.
Bookmakers have opened the betting lines favoring the Atlanta Falcons by 8 points, but that line quickly jumped up to 9 points due to early action favoring Atlanta by nearly 80%. Currently about 70% of the betting public is still siding with the Falcons and nearly 3 out of every 4 bettors are favoring the over total which currently stands at 41. The Falcons are also -450 favorites to win the game while the Bills are sitting at +350 odds to pull of the upset.
The factor that will determine if the Bills do have a chance to pull off what would be a surprising win lies in their offense. Buffalo has not scored more than 16 points in 3 straight games. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick until last week had two straight games fewer than 100 yards passing which is flat embarrassing for a starting quarterback. Look for him to be replaced by backup Brian Brohm this week. However, the offense has really started feeding the ball consistently to running back Fred Jackson.
Jackson has averaged 5 yards per carry over his last two games in his best performances since week 2 against the Buccaneers. Jackson along with tailback Marshawn Lynch has provided the only type of ball movement over the past few games. The good news is the Falcons rank 20th against the run which means the both running backs will be given the opportunity to make some plays. However, the bad news is that Buffalo will need to find a way to score more points than they have in recent weeks if they are to take down the Falcons this weekend.
The Atlanta Falcons offense would love for running back Michael Turner to be healthy this week as they will attack the NFL’s worse rush defense. However, Turner re-injured his ankle last week and is doubtful to play this Sunday. Tailback Jason Snelling will take over the work load in the back field and he has seen an increase in carries over the past few games. Snelling now gets the chance to impress as the Falcons will certainly give him plenty of opportunities against the Bills weak rush defense.
QB Matt Ryan will lead the efforts in the air. Ryan completed 16 of 34 for 152 yards in his first game back from a toe injury last week and he will look to pick up the pace this week. WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez would apparently be two guys that could really propel the offense against a less popular defense. White and Gonzalez both have the chance to eclipse the 1,000 yard receiving mark on the season with a few more grabs. However, this same Buffalo defense held Tom Brady and company to juts 115 passing yards last week. If the Bills defense can do the same again this week, it could be a closer game than expected.
Jay’s Pick - Buffalo +9