Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (6-1 SU, 4-3 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: Sunday, November 1, 1:00pm
Where: Atlanta, GA
by Bob, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TB +7.5 / ATL -7.5
Over/Under Total: 48.5
In the Georgia Dome on Sunday we have an NFC South match-up between the 2-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 6-1 Atlanta Falcons. Tampa has pretty much played like many expected in 2015, but the Falcons have exceeded their expectations and then some. Atlanta, with just one loss on the season, sits a half game behind the Carolina Panthers for first place in the division while Tampa is in dead last, one game behind the New Orleans Saints. For quite a few seasons in the early 2000s this game was highly anticipated, and usually had major implications not only on who won the South division, but who earned a playoff berth. Tampas hopes for a playoff run are pretty much over, but trust me, these teams hate each other, they would love nothing more than to spoil the Falcons amazing start.
The line opens with Atlanta as a 7.5 point favorite over the Buccaneers. The total points have yet to be set as of Monday night so for now we will not worry about that. The early action has 54% of the wagers on the Falcons and 46% on the Bucs to cover the spread. Head to head, the Falcons have covered three of the last four games against the Bucs, including a game last season that saw the Falcons carrying a 56-0 lead after three quarters. That game was the last time these two met in the Georgia Dome and I am pretty sure neither team has forgot. The Falcons, who are 6-1, came out covering the spread in their first four games over the season, however, since that time, they are 0-3 against the spread and have been lucky to not have straight up lost all three. Will the home turf put Atlanta back on track?
Tampa is going to have their hands full this weekend, but not for the reason one would think. In years past, or at least the last 4-6 years, the Falcons offense was feared but the defense was never much to worry about. Well, Tampa, with a rookie quarterback, needs to make sure they hold their own on offense. The Falcons defense has much improved under the new coaching regime and if Tampa turns the ball over or gets caught up in short field situations, this could be a long day. The way to do this is to get the run game going. Tampa now has the 4th best rushing attack in all of the NFL and if they can have success with this, it will open things up for Jameis Winston and the receiving crew. Running back, Doug Martin, started the season slow, but the last two weeks has gotten back to his form. The last two games, Martin has run for 106 and 123 yards and three scores. The Falcons at times have problems with a good run gamethis is the Bucs only hope.
The Falcons have been a huge surprise this season, but in the last few weeks, their offense has sputtered. They have turned the ball over I believe eight times in the last two games, yes, eight. If this trend continues we could potentially see an epic collapse after the amazing start. With that said however, the Falcons offense is always just a play away. With Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and now, Devonta Freeman, these guys can score on any given play. I am keeping this short and sweet: The Falcons offense needs to play like the Falcons offense. Matt Ryan needs to make better throws, the offensive line needs to do better in pass protection, and the wide outs need to make plays. If the Falcons offense clicks like it did the first few weeks, I can see this being an easy win, if not, they very well could be 6-2 and the coaching staff would have many questions to answer.
This is tough. The Falcons are a much better team than the Buccaneers, but the Falcons were also much better than Washington and Tennessee and they barely escaped those. I am going with gut on this one. I think the Falcons, being at home, get back on track. I am not calling a blowout, but I think the Dirty Birds will end up 7-1 after a 28-20 win over the Bucs.
Bobs Pick to Cover the Point Spread: TAKE THE ATLANTA FALCONS -7.5
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