The Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, November 3rd in a NFC South rematch. The Bucs won 31-24 at Atlanta in the season opener for their third straight victory over the Falcons in this series.
Atlanta (5-3) bounced back from consecutive losses with a thrilling 33-32 home win over the Green Bay Packers last week. Matt Ryan hit Mohamed Sanu on a game-winning 11-yard touchdown pass with only 31 seconds to go.
Tampa Bay (3-4) suffered a hard-fought 24-30 (OT) loss to the Oakland Raiders last week. The Raiders committed 23 penalties in the game, but still found a way to win behind 514 passing yards and four touchdowns from Derek Carr.
Kickoff inside Raymond James Stadium is set for 8:25 EST Thursday night with NFL Network providing the television coverage. Taking a look at the Week 9 odds, I find Atlanta as a 4-point favorite over Tampa Bay with a total set of 51 points.
The Falcons are clearly one of the best teams in the NFL this season, and the numbers fully support it. They are 5-3 this season with their three losses coming by a combined 12 points. They are that close to being 8-0, and they finally got a break in a close game last week with a great win over the Packers.
The Falcons rank 3rd in the NFL in yardage differential, outgaining teams by an average of 46.0 yards per game. They are 1st in the NFL in yards per play differential, outgaining teams by 1.2 yards per play. Those numbers alone show that the Falcons are among the league’s elite.
The Buccaneers may be 3-4, but they are clearly one of the worst teams in the NFL. They rank 29th in yardage differential, getting outgained by 38.3 yards per game. They rank 31st in yards per play differential, getting outgained by 0.9 yards per play.
Of course, the Bucs’ poor stats are largely due to their effort against the Raiders last week. There’s no way that game should have even gone to overtime. The Raiders committed 23 penalties and outgained the Bucs by a whopping 356 yards in that contest.
In fact, the Bucs have been outgained in five of their seven games this season. Meanwhile, the Falcons have actually outgained six of their eight opponents this season. It’s clear to me by the numbers that the Falcons are contenders, and the Bucs are pretenders.
Tampa Bay is 18-43-1 ATS in it s last 62 home games overall, and 5-14 ATS in home games over the past three seasons.
The Bucs are down several key weapons this week. They are without their top three running backs in Doug Martin, Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers. They are also without their No. 2 receiver in Vincent Jackson and top tight end Austin Saferian-Jenkins. Jameis Winston simply has too much on his plate right now.
The Bucs gave up a ridiculous 626 total yards to the Raiders last week, and now they’re up against the league’s top offense in the Falcons. Indeed, Atlanta ranks 1st in the NFL in total offense (425.2 yards/game), 1st in scoring offense (32.8 points/game) and 1st in yards per play (6.8 yards/play). The Bucs’ defense was on the field for 94 snaps in the OT loss to the Raiders, so they will be fatigued on this short week.
Matt Ryan and company want revenge on the Bucs from losing 24-31 in the opener at home. They also know that they’ve lost three straight in this series, and it’s time to end it. With the state the Bucs are in right now, it’s clear that is a likely possibility Thursday night.
The Falcons have played their best football on the road, going 3-1 SU & 4-0 ATS. The Bucs are 0-3 SU & 0-3 ATS at home this season, getting outscored by 10.3 points per game. Tampa Bay is 18-43-1 ATS in it s last 62 home games overall, and 5-14 ATS in home games over the past three seasons.