Bucs-Falcons: Anyone Playing Defense? Atlanta Wins Shootout

Monday, October 8, 2018 8:32 PM UTC

Monday, Oct. 8, 2018 8:32 PM UTC

It’s the NFL’s two worst scoring defenses on Sunday when the Tampa Bay Bucs visit the Atlanta Falcons in NFC South action.

Matt’s 2018 Individual Game Record: 3-4 ATS

Tampa Bay (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) at Atlanta (1-4, 1-4 ATS)Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)Free NFL Pick: Falcons & OverBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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It looks like the Super Bowl Hosting Curse will continue this season.

No team has ever played in a Super Bowl the year its stadium hosted it. The Minnesota Vikings got to the NFC title game last year but were pummeled by the Eagles, who went on to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl in Minneapolis.

On the first Sunday in February 2019, Super Bowl LIII will be held at Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and it’s now pretty evident that the Falcons aren’t going to even be a playoff team with their 1-4 record. Since 1990, only nine teams have made the postseason after starting 1-4, the last being Houston in 2015.

I rather doubt the Bucs are a playoff team, either, at 2-2. The reason is simple for both teams’ forecasts: Their defenses royally suck. In their three-game skid, the Falcons have given up a combined 121 points. They allow 32.6 points per game overall (31st) and 398.6 yards per game (28th). Tampa Bay would take both of those numbers. The Bucs are allowing a league-worst 34.8 points per game and 445.8 ypg (31st).

Thus, it’s rather surprising the total of 57.5 for Sunday’s game isn’t the highest on the board. That belongs to Chiefs-Patriots on Sunday night with a number of 59.

Atlanta has won the past three in this series. It was 34-20 in Hotlanta last November. Julio Jones destroyed the Tampa Bay secondary for 12 catches for 253 yards and two scores. Matt Ryan threw for 317 and one TD – one of Jones’ TD catches was a trick play pass from fellow WR Mohamed Sanu. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 283 for the Bucs. Peyton Barber rushed for two scores.

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The @Steelers got a big 41-17 win over ATL on Sunday.

Are they back on track? #HereWeGo

And how much trouble are the @AtlantaFalcons in after their 1-4 start?

(by @mbusa)

📺: @NFLGameDay Prime pic.twitter.com/xwMT0v5Ubr

— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) October 8, 2018

Both Teams Embarrassed Last Time Out

The Bucs come off their bye week, which either came at a great time or terrible one. I say that because the players and coaches might have wanted to get right back to work after being embarrassed 48-10 in Chicago in Week 4. Afterward, Coach Dirk Koetter said everyone should be fired on his staff, including himself. I’m frankly shocked that defensive coordinator Mike Smith – the former Falcons head coach – still has a job. There were Bears running wide open all day, and the Bucs made Mitch Trubisky look like Joe Montana.

Fitzpatrick started that one even though Jameis Winston was eligible off suspension, but the FitzMagic is long gone as he was just 9-for-18 for 126 yards and a pick before being pulled for Winston, who wasn’t much better (17-for-20, 145 yards, one TD, two picks). Winston will return to his starting role for this one, but tight end O.J. Howard will not be playing due to a knee injury.

Atlanta was never much in Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh, falling 41-17. Ryan threw for 285 yards and a score but was sacked six times and hit 11. He had X-rays on his foot after but apparently is fine. Jones was invisible until the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. Sunday marked just the third time in his career that Jones had been held without a catch through three quarters.

Tailback Devonta Freeman returned after missing three games with injury but didn’t do much. Defensively, the Falcons have been crushed by injuries this year and didn’t have excellent tackle Grady Jarrett vs. Pittsburgh. The Steelers were able to run it right down the Falcons’ throat.

  • Buccaneers are 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 road games.
  • Over is 5-1 in Buccaneers last 6 road games.
  • Over is 16-6 in Falcons last 22 home games.

Assuming Ryan doesn’t have some sort of setback this week, take Atlanta for a Sunday NFL pick. The favorite has covered 10 of the past 15 in the series. That’s a high total, but you have to go over.

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