Bet Buccs vs. Falcons to Go 'Over' 46 on Thursday Night Football

Jason Lake

Thursday, September 18, 2014 12:59 PM GMT

In 2013, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored the fewest points in the NFC. Seems they saved it all up for the Atlanta Falcons, crushing the NFL totals in both of last year’s games. Can we expect more of the same in 2014?

Jason’s Record After Week 2: 4-7 ATS, 1-2-1 Totals

Profit: minus-8.8 units

Remember how awful the 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were? Just about everything that could go wrong, did. Head coach Greg Schiano and starting quarterback Josh Freeman had an epic falling out. The running backs kept getting injured. Three players caught the MRSA superbug, including kicker Lawrence Tynes. The Bucs lost their first eight games, often by shooting themselves in the foot. It was glorious.

Like many things in retrospect, it wasn’t actually that bad. The Bucs may have finished 4-12 (6-10 ATS), but that was after playing the NFL’s toughest schedule. And QB Mike Glennon (83.9 passer rating) turned out all right. He even torched the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11 as Tampa Bay romped to a 41-28 blowout win. The Bucs almost took out the posted total of 43.5 all by themselves, lifting the 'over' to a 6-1 record in Glennon’s first seven NFL starts. Ah, those salad days.

 

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Things have obviously changed quite a bit as the Bucs and Falcons prepare for their Thursday Night Football matchup (8:25 p.m. ET, CBS) at the Georgia Dome. Tampa Bay has a new coach in Lovie Smith and a new starting QB in Luke McCown. Problem solved? Hardly: The Bucs offense is actually worse than last year’s, at least after two unimpressive losses to the Carolina Panthers (with Derek Anderson at QB) and the St. Louis Rams (with Austin Davis at QB). Both games slid under their posted totals of 38.5 and 37.5 points, respectively. And you thought those new uniforms were digital-watch ugly.

Need some data? Football Outsiders has Tampa Bay ranked No. 26 in offensive DVOA after two weeks, down from No. 24 for the full 2013 season – that’s including Freeman’s pop-gun performances in the first three weeks. McCown (75.1 passer rating this year) has been a downgrade from Glennon thus far. RB Bobby Rainey (6.0 yards per carry) is just about the only positive thing happening in The Big Guava right now.

 

The Reverend Fletcher
Which brings us to Thursday night’s total. When the football betting lines opened on Sunday, we had a total of 45 points on the NFL odds board. The early action, according to our consensus reports, was on the 'under' at a narrow 52-percent clip. It didn’t take long for the 'over' to take charge, but there’s been enough action on both sides to make Thursday’s total vacillate between 44.5 and 45 points.

If we just consider Tampa Bay in a vacuum, the 'under' is an easy NFL pick. But there’s another team that’s going to take the field, and when they get the chance, the Falcons can move the ball with the best of them. In Week 1, they found the weak spot in the New Orleans Saints secondary and won 37-34 in overtime (OVER 51). However, facing a very strong Cincinnati Bengals defense in Week 2, Atlanta came up dry in a 24-10 defeat (UNDER 48.5).

This is where we’re supposed to give Coach Smith his props as a defensive guru and all that. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay’s defense has also taken a step back this year without Darrelle Revis at the corner. The Bucs have fallen from No. 8 in defensive DVOA to No. 18; injuries on the defensive line have taken their toll, and reports at press time have LB Mason Foster (shoulder) expected to give way to Dane Fletcher for Week 3. Tampa Bay nearly got away with it against Carolina and St. Louis. We’re expecting something different against Matt Ryan’s Falcons. 

Free NFL Pick: Put one unit on 'over' 46 (–105) at 5Dimes

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