Thursday Night Football – Week 9 – Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Free Preview and Betting Prediction
The Falcons head to Tampa Bay to take on Buccaneers in what will be an all AFC South edition of Thursday Night Football. The game will be a tale of two teams heading in different directions, but divisional matchups always seem to be hard fought in this league.
The road Falcons opened as -3 favorites in this contest. The odds quickly moved passed this critical number and to Falcons -3.5 and -4 at most sportsbooks. At BetOnline, the current odds as of this writing are Falcons -3.5 (-120) and Buccaneers +3.5 (+100). As of late Wednesday, the public has bet Atlanta heavily, with nearly 90 percent of wagers coming on the Falcons.
The total has seen similar lopsided action on the over. It opened at 51.5 points. However, despite over 75 percent of bets coming in on the over, the odds have moved to 51 and 50.5 at most sportsbooks. As of this writing, BetOnline has the number set at 51 points, with -110 vig on both sides.
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The Falcons – Coming into Their Own
Atlanta wasn’t a trendy pick to win the NFC South before the season started, but they certainly have gotten the attention of not only the other teams in their division but the entire league. The Falcons improved to 5-1 with a 33-32 hard fought win against the visiting Packers on Sunday.
Quarterback Matt Ryan is off to the best start of his career, and that’s mostly in part to the Falcons’ offensive line finally healthy and gelling. The dominance also has allowed Atlanta to field a strong running game.
Backup and timeshare running back, Tevin Coleman, will be out again this week. Aside from that, Atlanta is mostly healthy. Julio Jones left last week’s game for a limited period, but he did practice on a limited basis this week and is off the injury report. He is expected to be a full-go come Sunday.
The Buccaneers – Must Win Game?
Tampa Bay isn’t playing good football, but they’re still currently second in the AFC South, tied with the New Orleans Saints with a 3-4 record. They added another loss to that number last week at Oakland. The Buccaneers trailed for much of the contest, but forced overtime, only to lose 30-24.
Sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston has looked awful this year compared his strong rookie season. Winston missed open receivers in last week’s game against Oakland, which so far, has been one of the worst defenses in the league.
The offense hasn’t exactly been without injuries, however. Wideout Mike Evans leads the team in targets by a significant margin and will continue to do so with Vincent Jackson out for the season with a torn ACL. They are also down three healthy running backs. Journeyman Antone Smith and rookie Peyton Barber will form a committee at running back.
This is a spot, where in most cases, I would like the Buccaneers, but even with the public heavy on Atlanta and them coming off an emotional win on the road – I find it hard to pull the trigger.
Atlanta’s defense isn’t a unit to be feared, but Winston’s inaccuracy is becoming a major problem, even against the worst defenses. He’s consistently missed open receivers and has failed to connect, even on check-down routes.
The other issue is how little trouble Atlanta’s offense will have scoring. Tampa Bay’s defense hasn’t been good this season. Their strength is against the run, but no team has been able to stifle the Falcons rushing attack this season.
Bettors can give the under a look in this game, but for me, it’s an easy play on a team like Atlanta, that outmatches Tampa Bay in basically every facet of the game.
Pick: Falcons -3.5