Week 9 Thursday Night Football Predictions - Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Atlanta Falcons players in action

Doug Upstone

Monday, October 31, 2016 8:48 PM UTC

Monday, Oct. 31, 2016 8:48 PM UTC

Tampa Bay already owns one victory over Atlanta and a win another pushes them right back into the NFC South race and gives them an important tie-breaker down the road should they need it.


Atlanta with a victory can start to place the pressure on the other division teams, who would not in very strong positions to catch the Dirty Birds by all appearances.


Atlanta Covers If........

They play their game and have Matt Ryan keeping passing the ball around to different targets. That is Falcons greatest strength, as Ryan completed passes to eight different receivers in stirring come from behind victory over Green Bay. Tampa Bay does not have the defense to seemingly stop an offense that averages over 32 points a game and if they blend in the run, the Buccaneers will be hard pressed to slow Atlanta down.

On defense, stuffing the run forces Jameis Winston to make consistent throws down the field and while he can get hot, he's not shown the ability to do this drive after drive, especially when the opposing team dials up the pressure. If the Falcons zone defense can defend Mike Evans, they should be able to beat the NFL betting odds at A-rated Intertops of -3.


Tampa Bay Covers If.........

They hold up in the backend of the secondary and take advantage of opportunities presented to them. In OT loss to Oakland, the Buccaneers gained 200 extra yards on NFL-record 23 accepted penalties and still could not knock off the Raiders. Tampa Bay could not contain Oakland's mostly sure-handed pass catchers and at the worst Atlanta's receivers are as good if not better than Oakland's as a group. The Bucs have to make Ryan jittery in the pocket.

On offense, Winston has to throw the deep ball better and he is certainly capable of doing so. The Atlanta defense is nothing special and other than a few creative blitzes can be had with fairly vanilla coverages. The Falcons are thin at linebacker, thus, if the point of attack is blocked properly, the running game should work along with short passes at the second level.


Your Thursday Night Football Winner Is?

For my week 9 NFL picks, have struggled a bit on Thursday night's but really like this game for a change. From a pure matchup standpoint, Atlanta has several offensive edges to exploit in the Tampa Bay defense. Taking advantage of Bucs corners and running right up to the middle behind outstanding center Alex Mack. The Buccaneers are getting better, but a more veteran Falcons end up winning by seven or more.

 Free NFL Picks: Atlanta -3Best Line Offered: at Intertops

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