NFL Thursday Night Football Betting Picks: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia

Thursday, September 18, 2014, 8:25 pm Eastern, TV: CBS, NFL Network
Opening Line: Atlanta -5
Current Line: Atlanta -6 1/2
Opening Total: 44 1/2
Current Total: 45 1/2
Opening Money Line: Falcons -270 / Buccaneers +230
Current Money Line: Falcons -290 / Buccaneers +245

Falcons Saints NFL Game Preview
The Falcons are 6.5 point favorites at home against the Buccaneers Thursday.

The 1-1 Atlanta Falcons host the 0-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday in an important early season NFC South clash. The Carolina Panthers lead the division with a 2-0 record and the New Orleans Saints are also 0-2.

Tampa Bay leads the series 21-20 against Atlanta. The Buccaneers and Falcons split the season series last year with each team winning at home. Atlanta won 31-23 and Tampa Bay won 41-28. They will play again in Tampa November 9.

Tampa Bay is coached by Lovie Smith in his first year with the team. The Buccaneers have home losses to the Panthers 20-14 and St. Louis Rams 19-17. The Buccs are 0-2 ATS and both games have gone under the total. Tampa was a 4 point favorite against the Rams and the total was 37.5.

Atlanta is coached by Mike Snith. After a season opening comeback win in overtime against the Saints 37-34, the Falcons lost last week at the Cincinnati Bengals 24-10. Atlanta is 1-1 ATS and the total is also 1-1.  The Falcons were 5.5 point underdogs at the Bengals and the total  was 48.5.

Tampa Bay is being outscored 20-16 this season. The Buccaneers are averaging 298 yards per game including 169 passing and 130 rushing yards per game. The Buccaneers are #31 in passing and #11 in rushing. On defense, Tampa Bay is allowing 337 yards per game including 221 passing and 116 rushing yards. The Buccs are 10/20 on third down conversions and opponents are 12/27 on third and fourth down conversions. Tampa Bay has forced 3 sacks and allowed 4 this season. One of the main reasons The Buccaneers are 0-2 is a -3 turnover margin.

Quarterback Josh McCown has completed 67.9% of his passes for 362 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with 5 carries for 33 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has been sacked 4 times. Running back Bobby Rainey has 26 carries for 156 yards, plus a receiving touchdown. Running back Doug Martin is questionable with a knee injury. Receiver Vincent Jackson has 8 catches for 87 yards. Mike Evans has 9 catches for 86 yards. Tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is questionable with an ankle injury. Five defensive players are listed as out or on IR for the Buccaneers.

Atlanta is being outscored 29-24 this season. The Falcons are averaging 439 yards per game on offense including 329 passing yards and 110 rushing yards. Atlanta is #2 in total offense and #1 in pass defense. The Falcons are allowing 472 total yards per game on defense including 318 passing yards and 155 rushing yards. Atlanta is 26th or worse in all defensive categories, including dead last in total defense. The Falcons are 10/25 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 14/27 on third down conversions. Atlanta doesn’t have a sack yet and has allowed 3. The Falcons are -2 in turnovers.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 63.2% of his passes for 679 yards with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, plus 6 carries for 43 yards. He has been sacked 3 times. Running back Steven Jackson has 23 carries for 98 yards. Jacquizz Rodgers has 11 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown. Julio Jones has 14 catches for 204 yards and a touchdown. Roddy White has 10 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. He is questionable with a hamstring injury. Harry Douglas has 10 catches for 107 yards. Tackle Jake Matthews is questionable with an ankle injury.

Tampa Bay is 9-3-2 ATS after rushing for 150 yards or more, 17-7 on fieldturf, 2-6 in road games, 1-5 in NFC south games, 0-4 after a loss, after failing to cover and in September, 0-5 overall and against NFC teams. The Buccaneers are 9-4-1 ATS  overall against the Falcons and 10-4 ATS in Atlanta.

Atlanta is 4-0 ATS in Thursday games, 5-1 against NFC teams, 15-4 after scoring less than 15 points, 6-2 overall, 36-13-3 after allowing 150 rushing yards or more, and 2-5 in September. The favorite 5-1-1 ATS in this series recently and the home team is 4-1-1.

The Falcons have been great on offense but awful on defense. Tampa Bay has been average on both. Still the Falcons are 1-1 and the Buccs are 0-2. I think the Falcons win at home.

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