The Atlanta Falcons travel to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, December 6 in an NFC South showdown. The Bucs won a thriller in the first meeting between these teams by a final of 23-20 (OT) on the road on November 1st.

Atlanta (6-5, 3-2 away) lost its fourth straight game in a 10-20 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week. Matt Ryan threw two costly interceptions and Tevin Coleman fumbled deep in Minnesota territory, and those three turnovers proved to be the difference.

Tampa Bay (5-6, 2-3 home) had its two-game winning streak snapped with a 12-25 road loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week. The Bucs moved the ball fine throughout the game, but they had to settle for too many field goals.

Kickoff inside Raymond James Stadium is scheduled for 1:00 EST Sunday afternoon with FOX providing the television coverage. Taking a look at the odds in Las Vegas, I find Tampa Bay listed as a 2-point favorite over Atlanta with a total set of 46 points.

My Early Lean: Falcons +2

The Falcons have had a nightmarish run here since opening 5-0. They have lost four straight and five of their six games since. Three of those losses came by a combined seven points. They certainly are a better team than they’ve shown, but they’ve simply been done in by turnovers. They have committed a combined 16 turnovers in their last six games and are -8 in turnover differential during this span. That has been the difference.

Matt Ryan isn’t known as being a quarterback who has turnover problems, so I believe it has been more of an aberration than anything. Look for the Falcons to shore up the turnovers sooner rather than later, which will result in them getting back in the win column often in the coming games. Because when you look at everything else about this team, it’s easy to see that the Falcons are one of the best teams in the NFL.

Indeed, the Falcons rank 3rd in the league in yardage differential, outgaining teams by 54.4 yards per game. The top seven teams in yardage differential are the Cardinals, Broncos, Falcons, Patriots, Seahawks, Panthers, and Bengals in that order, so they are in some elite company. They are 5th in total offense at 392.8 yards per game, and they are 11th in total defense at 338.4 yards per game. Dan Quinn has made this a vastly improved defensive team this season.

Atlanta had outscored Tampa Bay a combined 83-31 in two meetings last year before losing 20-23 (OT) at home in their first meeting this season. But that was about as fluky a loss as you could have. The Falcons outgained the Bucs 496-290 for the game, or by 206 total yards.

Atlanta had outscored Tampa Bay a combined 83-31 in two meetings last year before losing 20-23 (OT) at home in their first meeting this season. But that was about as fluky a loss as you could have. The Falcons outgained the Bucs 496-290 for the game, or by 206 total yards. You won’t find many instances where an NFL team outgained an opponent by 200-plus yards and lost. So, now it’s time for payback for the Falcons, who were -4 in turnover differential in the first meeting.

The Bucs have not played well at home this year. They are 2-3 at home, getting outscored by 9.0 points per game and giving up 29.6 points per game. Their only two home wins came 38-31 over Jacksonville and 10-6 over Dallas. They needed a last-minute touchdown to beat the Cowboys, who were still without Tony Romo at that time.

Atlanta is 19-7 ATS in its last 26 games following four or more consecutive losses. The Falcons are 18-6 ATS in their last 24 games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game. The Buccaneers are 17-38-1 ATS in their last 56 home games. The Falcons are 38-13-1 ATS in their last 52 games after allowing more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game.