Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-4) +3, 44.5 O/U at Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, G.A., 1:00PM Eastern, Sunday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
NFC South foes Tampa Bay and Atlanta are battling for their playoff lives and they take center stage inside the Georgia Dome this Sunday. The Buccaneers and Falcons are separated by a single game and a win would be huge in hopes for playing in the postseason. The winner of this game will be in great shape to make the playoffs through a wildcard spot given the Carolina Panthers do not fall completely apart and lose the division. The NFC South has produced some exciting games this season and with huge implications on the line this game should be no different.
Tampa Bay suffered a beating from the NFC South leading Carolina Panthers last Monday night. The Buccaneers defense were beaten and manhandled as the Panther rushing attack put up 299 yards in route to a 38-23 victory. While it may not be surprising that Tampa Bay lost the game, it is surprising how they lost. The Bucs defense has played extremely well all season and their success has been based around their defense. The Tampa Bay defense ranks 5th in the NFL in scoring holding teams to only 18 points per game and 9th overall holding offenses to 293 yards per game of total offense. Tampa Bay hopes the defense will return to normal when they battle the Falcons for postseason rights.
Atlanta has found a future superstar in rookie quarterback Matt Ryan. The rookie from Boston College has turned quite a few heads this season and he continues to get better as the season continues. Despite last weeks 29-25 loss to the Saints, Ryan completed 24 of 33 passes for a season high 315 yards. Ryan has thrown for 2,940 yards on the year, with 14 touchdowns, and 7 picks. WR Roddy White has been the go to man for Ryan and they have hooked up on 78 passes this season. White leads the NFL in receiving yards with 1,249 yards and 7 touchdowns. A big day for the Falcon passing attack would be huge for Atlanta, but the Buccaneers secondary is a talented group that ranks 4th in the NFL in pass defense.
Sportbet has opened the betting line favoring the home team by a field goal. The game marks the 2nd time the teams have met this season with the Buccaneers winning the last meeting 24-9 in Tampa. The early betting public is favoring Atlanta to bounce back this week with nearly 70% of the early action siding with the Falcons ATS. The over/under for the battle is standing strong at the 44.5 point mark and early action shows the public is favoring the over.
The Buccaneers have averaged 23 points per game this season while responsible for nearly 340 yards of total offense ranking them right in the middle of the NFL in both categories. Veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia has handled the ball well only throwing 3 interceptions all season. Garcia has completed 67% of his passes for 2,223 yards and 10 touchdowns. Garcia favorite target is wide out is Antonio Bryant who is closing in on the 1,000 yard mark on the season in receiving. Bryant has 66 catches for 936 yards and 5 touchdowns. Even though the Bucs offense does not score a bundle of points they have controlled the football very well. In result when the defense plays well Tampa Bay is difficult to defeat.
The Falcons defense has struggled much of the year allowing a good bit of yards, but they have kept the scoring generally low. The Atlanta defense has only allowed 20 points per game this season ranking them right out side the top 10 in scoring defense. The offense has been their key to success this season considering the Falcons rank 5th in the NFL in total yards per game. A big component in their offensive formula has been the play of running back Michael Turner. Turner has 300 carries for 1,249 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. Turner tends to get around 20 carries at least every game and if he can pull of the success similar to that of the Carolina Panthers running back Atlanta could be in for a big day on the ground.
Atlanta is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games while going 6-1 ATS in their previous 7 games inside the Georgia Dome. The Buccaneers have reached the under total in 6 of their last 9 games. Tampa Bay has a 2-5 ATS mark in their last 7 games while going a measly 3-7 ATS on the road in their last 10 games.
Jays Pick: This will be a tough game with big importance and both teams are coming off losses. While my lean is to the Falcons, Im going to stay away from a pick in this one.