Let’s get this out of the way right now; neither Atlanta or Tampa Bay are making the playoffs. Both are 3-7 in the AFC South, and are tied for last place.
There is a difference between the two teams, however. The Buccaneers are playing like they want a top pick in the NFL Draft. The Falcons, on the other hand, are hitting their stride, albeit eight games too late.
That is why with this week’s One Bet, $100, I’m giving away 3.5 points and taking Atlanta over Tampa Bay. I fully believe the Falcons are a far superior team than the Bucs, and will show it on Sunday.
One Bet, $100
This Week’s Pick Last Week’s Result Season Total
Atlanta -3.5 Won New England 7-4, Up $270
Last week, I took New England and gave away four points to Philadelphia. The Patriots covered easily, winning 17-10.
I am trying for my third consecutive win with a favorite, but unlike last week, the underdog is on the road. That should work in my favor, though I’m not crazy about the extra half-point I had to give. The line opened at three, but the sharps pounced, driving it up to 3.5.
Two QBs Going in Different Directions
There’s no doubt that Atlanta and Tampa Bay have quarterbacks who are trending differently. Falcons’ signal caller, Matt Ryan seems to have turned his season around over the past two games, while the Bucs’ Jameis Winston has struggled.
In the first three games this season, Ryan threw for six interceptions, and the team went 1-2. They then went on a four-game losing streak where Ryan had only two INTs, but countered those mistakes with seven touchdowns. He just wasn’t seeing results for his efforts.
In the last two games, however, Ryan has led Atlanta to blowout road wins against New Orleans and Carolina. Both of those teams had winning records when the Falcons beat them.
Tampa Bay’s Winston has gone the opposite direction. In his last five games, the team hasn’t won once, and Winston has thrown 13 interceptions.
Tampa Bay Defense Bringing Pressure
Tampa Bay defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles will try and disrupt Ryan and the Atlanta offensive line as much as possible. Ryan told reporters he is familiar with Bowles and his game plan.
“He’ll pressure, he’s very aggressive and has been that way pretty much everywhere that I’ve faced him,” Ryan said. “He stresses your pass protections, he stresses your personnel. You have to be on top of it, you have to be identify and communicate because they put people in different places, so that’s going to be a big part of the game for us making sure we get those things right.”
Why Atlanta Will Cover
The Falcons are fresh off of two impressive road victories, and now return home to face an inferior team. The game should come down to which team has the better passing attack. While Ryan can make his fair share of mistakes, I believe Winston will make more.
While Tampa Bay boasts the league’s No. 2 run defense, their pass defense is ranked 31 out of 32 teams. Ryan should feast on that.