The Atlanta Falcons have been made slight betting odds favorites over the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers for this Week 10 AFC South meeting in the Sunshine State.
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, 18:00 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT): This NFC South game between the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7 SU, 3-5 ATS) and the visiting Atlanta Falcons (2-6 SU, 3-5 ATS) at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa is a meeting between two teams with extremely disappointing records and two teams who can probably already look ahead to the 2015 NFL Season, although living in the NFC South with the Saints (4-4) living like kings with a .500 mark and the Panthers (3-5-1) hanging around despite a 3-game losing streak, one never knows. If a search engine can evolve into a massive billion dollar organization, then anything is possible These Crazy Days and maybe with a win here, Atlanta can maybe make a run at the division title. But probably not.
Some oddsmakers actually have the visiting Falcons installed as 1-point Favorites (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) against Tampa while most offshore sportsbooks and Station Casinos and The Mirage here in Las Vegas have this Week 10 NFL game listed as a Pick'em. The Total Points in this game ranged from 45½ (Pinnacle) to 46 (SuperBook) on Monday afternoon while the Money Line (Winner) NFL odds had Atlanta as small -115 Favorites with the host Buccaneers -105 Underdogs (Paddy Power), if you could even call them that. The Early Line released by the SuperBook on Wednesdays, 11 days before the week’s games, had the Falcons 2½-point Favorites, so perceptions of Atlanta have continued to drop—even though it had Week 10 off—while the Bucs cover, but loss at Cleveland on Sunday must have had some influence also. Who knows, but the savvy bettors holding a Buccaneers +2½ ticket from that Early Line release have placed themselves in a fairly good situation.
The Atlanta Falcons should be thanking the Buccaneers for stinking worse than they have so far this season as this team—losers of 5 straight games—would be getting more heat than they are for the 2-6 straight up record heading into Week 10. The Open Date Atlanta just enjoyed probably served as much as a psychological rest from the dreariness of its season as much as a physical rest from the rigors of playing professional football in the NFL. And this team is an enigma of sorts too. The Falcons (0-5 L5 SU Road) boast the 7th best Passing attack in the entire league, yet have scored just 21, 7, 13 and 20 points in their last four games, all losses. And the defense is ranked #30 against the Pass (280.8 ypg), but allowed 30 ppg only once in those aforementioned last four losses (30, 27, 29, 22).
QB Matt Ryan (305 completions, 2,306 yards, 15 TDs) and the Atlanta offense may be a little less to blame for the Falcons (1-4 ATS L5, 1-4 ATS L5 Road) current woes, but having the 25th Rushing attack in the league isn’t good for balance and RB Steven Jackson (345 yards, 3 TDs) is no longer the backfield threat he once was. The two go-to guys for Atlanta and Ryan, as expected, have been WRs Julio Jones (53 receptions, 734 yards, 3 TDs, 13.8 ypc) and Roddy White (33 receptions, 419 yards, 3 TDs), and they have been reliable as always, but this far into the season you would expect the TD totals for both to be a little higher.
Injury-wise, Atlanta DT Jonathan Babineaux (foot) and G Justin Blalock (back) are both listed as Questionable while the Falcons also have a number of players on the I-R List, including five OL and a couple of others Out Indefinitely.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs lost on Sunday, 22-17 at Cleveland as 6½-point Underdogs, so that’s 4 straight losses for Tampa Bay (1-7) and another half season to go knowing you’re playing for nothing. The Buccaneers (3-9 SU L12 vs. Falcons) can definitely win this game although when these two teams met in Week 3, Atlanta blasted Tampa, 56-14 and the Bucs are 0-5 SU L5 here at Home at Raymond James Stadium so this is one of those weird matchups that could end in a 24-24 or 27-27 tie or something (Overtime? Yes 10/1, bet365; Draw (Tie) 25/1).
QB Mike Glennon (117 completions, 1,417 yards, 10 TDs) has done what he can offensively in Tampa—there actually is no city called Tampa Bay there—but when you’re #26 in Passing and #29 in Rushing and your defense is 31st against the Pass and your team’s strength is that you’re 18th against the Rush, well, then major issues are what you have. At least the weather’s nice? At least you’re not the worst football team in the state? At least no Jerry Jones hovering over your head coach?
WRs Mike Evans (32 receptions, 460 yards, 4 TDs, 14.4 ypc) and Vincent Jackson (32 receptions, 443 yards, 2 TDs, 13.8 ypc) provide nice targets for Glennon, but with the weak Rushing game putting so much pressure on Tampa’s Passing game, opponents can concentrate on clamping down on Evans and Jackson to hold the Bucs (1-10 SU L11) offense in check.
RBs Doug Martin (ankle) and Charles Sims (ankle), LB Brandon Magee (knee), TE Luke Stocker (abdominal), T Anthony Collins (foot) are all listed as Day-To-Day while DE Da’Quan Bowers becomes eligible for this game for Tampa (0-5 ATS L5 Home) after serving a suspension.
Best Betting Approaches
This one is very hard to pin down, both from a potential pace and scoring perspective (Total Points) and from even a “Who will win the game in the end?” point of view. When one team has lost 4 in a row and the other has lost 5 in a row, picking who the winner is basically a crapshoot, especially with this game being at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and the Falcons being a woeful 5-9-1 ATS L15 against the Bucs. And although Atlanta is 9-3 SU L12 versus Tampa, even in a Pick ‘Em situation, this game is honestly just too hard to just pick the winner. Even the recent site (Home/Away) ATS trends are enough to induce handicapping vertigo: Bucs 0-5 both SU and ATS L5 Home but Falcons 1-4 both SU and ATS L5 on the Road? Dizziness. So maybe the Falcons Total Team Points is set at 23½ (Under -125, Paddy Power) offers some relief? Still dizzy.
So the Total is where the best NFL pick must be, right? Even the trends conflict here with the Over 4-2 in the L6 in the series but 4-2 Under the L6 here in Tampa. But even though Atlanta has played three straight Unders and the oddsmakers are anticipating a somewhat low-scoring game here with their 45½, the feel is that Atlanta is coming off a week of rest and passing the pigskin is what it does best and Glennon and Evans (2 TDs) got their little groove on against the Browns, and so, both teams will be throwing in the Florida sunshine. And neither team has anything to lose and these are the second- and third-worst teams in the entire NFL against the Pass.
And, one specific prop to look at here when they are released later in the week is Julio Jones Anytime TD Scorer. Jones ranks as the #3 receiver in the NFL and the talented WR out of the University of Georgia has been targeted 83 times—only the Steelers Antonio Brown has been targeted more (87) and Jones should certainly have more than the 3 TDs receiving he has so far. And in the press (ESPN.com), even QB Ryan acknowledged he should be trying to connect on longer passes with the speedy and athletic Jones, who only has one reception of 30+ yards to date, so look for that little reality on Sunday and back Jones in that prop if you like as Atlanta goes up against the second-worst defense against the Pass (285.3 ypg) in the NFL.
Free NFL Pick: Over 45½ (Pinnacle)
Free NFL Props Picks: Julio Jones Anytime TD Scorer (Falcons)