Atlanta Falcons (-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Total points: 51.5
Jeremy: Last Thursday, the Tennessee Titans ran all over the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 36-22 win. Jeremy nailed both the side and total while Jeff missed on the total but hit on the side. Both now sit at 9-7 on the season in Thursday night picks. This week, the Atlanta Falcons travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers in an NFC South tilt. Can Atlanta extend their division lead behind Matt Ryan? Can Tampa Bay find consistency on offense in the face of a rash of injuries? Let's get to the picks.
The Atlanta Falcons got back on the winning track Sunday with a 33 - 32 victory over the Green Bay Packers. This week they travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers who are coming off a 30-24 overtime loss in which they gave up more than 600 yards to the Oakland Raiders. Matt Ryan and the Falcons will look to take advantage of a porous Buccaneers secondary that allowed more than 500 yards through the air last week. Wide receiver Julio Jones had a down game by his standards last week as he was dealing with a knee bruise. I'm expecting a far better showing out of him this week as he and the rest of the Falcons’ wideouts should be able to torch Tampa Bay's DBs. It looks like Devonta Freeman will once again be the primary option out of the backfield for the Falcons as Tevin Coleman is questionable with a hamstring injury and has yet to practice this week. For the Buccaneers, they continue to battle injuries on the offensive side of the ball. Outside of wide receiver Mike Evans, quarterback Jameis Winston has limited options at his disposal. Already missing their top two running backs, the Bucs will now be without Jacquizz Rodgers who will miss this game with a foot injury. Expect a committee of backs to share the load for Tampa Bay against the Falcons who have been solid against the run all year. The total for this game has been posted at 51.5. As both teams struggle against the pass, I am expecting a high scoring game. The Falcons are averaging 33 points per game and should eclipse that total here. If it weren't for their 23 penalties last week Oakland would have put up significantly more points than they did. Despite struggling with his inconsistency and playing with a depleted team around him, Winston should still be able to throw for a couple touchdowns in this one. Atlanta has given up the most passing touchdowns in the league and rank near the bottom in passing yards allowed. Look for Tampa Bay to add another touchdown on the ground. Take over 51.5. Ultimately, I don't see Tampa Bay having enough weapons to keep up with the Falcons. Atlanta is significantly better than they were in their Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay and with the injuries facing the Buccaneers offense I expect them to win by at least a touchdown. Take Atlanta on the road giving 4.
Pick: Falcons (-4)
Total points: Over 51.5
Jeff: The Falcons travel to Tampa after defeating the Packers 33-32 as a late touchdown pass from QB Matt Ryan to WR Mohamed Sanu proved to be the difference. The Falcons now sit at 5-3 atop the NFC South. The Buccaneers lost a tough overtime game to the Raiders 30-24 as they had no answer for QB Derek Carr as he threw for 513 yards and four touchdowns. The Buccaneers now have a quick turnaround this week as they host the Falcons on Thursday night. I think this is a tough spot for the Buccaneers due to a multitude of factors working against them as they face the division leaders. First, the Buccaneers played an overtime game in which the defense was on the field for forty-four minutes in very warm temperatures. Second, the Falcons enter this game in revenge mode after the Buccaneers defeated them in Week 1 31-24. Finally, the Buccaneers will most likely be without RB Jacquizz Rodgers who sprained his foot versus the Raiders. Tampa will be forced to employ a running back committee which includes RB Antone Smith, Peyton Barber and newly acquired Mike James. Look for QB Matt Ryan to take advantage of a defense that will tire as the game progresses. WR Julio Jones will give this secondary all they can handle especially after WR Amari Cooper burned them to the tune of twelve catches for 173 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons are averaging a league-best 425 yards/game along with 32.8 points/game. RB Devonta Freeman should find plenty of room to run as he faces a Buccaneers defense yielding 115 yards/game on the ground. RB Tevin Coleman is recovering from an injured hamstring after sitting out last week's game against the Packers. If Coleman gets cleared to play, it gives the Falcons another weapon in their offensive arsenal. Defensively, the Falcons need to focus on slowing down target monster WR Mike Evans. If they can limit Evans in the passing game, it will make things very difficult for the Buccaneers offensively. In the end, look for the Falcons to avenge their Week 1 defeat at the hands of the Buccaneers as they come away with a 10 point victory. As for the total, I'm expecting this contest to be relatively high scoring, but not enough points for this game to go over the posted total. The Falcons come away with a 30-20 victory.
Pick: Falcons (-4)
Total points: Under 51.5