Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Atlanta Falcons NFC South Predictions

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, 11/7/2010, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  FOX
Opening Point Spread:  Atlanta -9.5
Current Betting Line:  Atlanta -9
Opening Total:  46.5
Current Total:  45.5
Current Moneyline:  Atlanta -430 / Tampa Bay +360

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will find out if their the best team in the NFC on Sunday afternoon

Tampa Bay is likely going to receive a rude awakening this week when it travels to Atlanta because of head coach Raheem Morris making erroneous comments.  “We’re the best team in the NFC,” he said before the bye week.  “Yeah, I said it.  We’re the best team in the NFC.”  The Buccaneers backed that statement up mildly with an unimpressive 38-35 win last week over the Arizona Cardinals.  The team has a chance of pulling off the upset due to quarterback Josh Freeman being 8-8 in his first 16 starts in the NFL and six of those victories being fourth-quarter comebacks.  He went 18 of 25 passing for 278 yards and a touchdown in last Sunday’s win.  Tampa Bay is 5-1 ATS in dome games the last three years and currently a large underdog on the NFL lines page .

The Buccaneers know that the division lead is on the line and will need to have a top game from its secondary in stopping Atlanta wide receiver Roddy White.  “It’s the Falcons, man.  It’s a division rival,” said Morris.  “They came in here at the end of the season to go 9-7 and we went home sad.”  This will be the 34th regular-season meeting between the rivals, with Tampa Bay holding a 18-15 advantage.  Since the NFC South was created in 2002, the Bucs are 9-7 versus today’s opponent, including sweeps in 2002, 2005 and 2007.  One problem that the team is trying to fix is its defensive pressure on the quarterback and was unable to claim former Chargers linebacker Shawn Merriman on waivers.  The team has just five sacks from their linemen in seven games.

Atlanta is coming off a 31-17 road loss to the Eagles that snapped a four-game winning streak, but are likely to start a new one at home today.  The Falcons have won quarterback Matt Ryan’s last 12 starts at the Georgia Dome and the team will be looking to start 4-0 at home for the third-straight season.  Ryan has posted a 3-1 record versus the Buccaneers in his career, but has averaged a 61.1 passer rating and thrown six interceptions against two touchdowns.  “Specifically, we need to be sound in what we do,” he commented.  “Go out there and make good decisions and be accurate with the football.”  Atlanta would be best served to hand the ball off to running back Michael Turner, who has the second-most touchdowns in the NFL since 2008 (30).  The squad is 7-3 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points.

The Falcons are 16-3 at the Georgia Dome with head coach Mike Smith on the sidelines and will be looking to move their record to 2-1 coming out of a bye week under his direction.  “I think it’s all about the NFC South,” he stated.  “It’s a competitive division.  Maybe the most competitive in the NFL.”  Atlanta spent the bye week trying to sure up a pass defense that has allowed 260.3 yards per game, ranking 27th in the NFL.  Tampa Bay is averaging 216.9 yards passing.

Bettors will find that the Buccaneers are 7-0 ATS on field turf, while the Falcons are 7-2 ATS as a home favorite.

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