The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers play host to the Atlanta Falcons, who need to start winning before they get buried in a competitive division and tough conference.
Get ready for an exciting NFC South battle of veteran quarterbacks between Tom Brady and Matt Ryan.
|Game: Atlanta Falcons (0-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)
Location: Raymond James Stadium Date: Sunday,
Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
|Team||Point Spread||Moneyline||Over/Under||Team Total|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-12½||-700||u52|
The Buccaneers took both matchups with the Falcons last season, winning 31-27 in Atlanta in Week 15 as six-point favorites and 44-27 in Tampa in Week 17 as seven-point favorites. With each team featuring a top-tier quarterback and various offensive weapons, both games were pretty high-scoring so expect much of the same this season despite Atlanta’s Week 1 struggles.
Going back a few seasons, though, Ryan and the Falcons have dominated the head-to-head series. Atlanta went 4-0 against Tampa in 2017 and 2018 before each team won once in 2019. But, with the arrival of Brady before the 2020 season, the Buccaneers went from mediocre to elite so the pre-2020 history is not particularly instructive.
Overall, the Falcons lead the series 28-27.
Next game: at New York Giants
The Falcons were crushed 32-6 by the Philadelphia Eagles in new coach Arthur Smith’s debut in Week 1. Atlanta’s offense only mustered two Younghoe Koo field goals while Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns to go with 62 rushing yards. Atlanta’s top pick, rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, only caught four passes for 31 yards.
Atlanta lost the game straight-up as -3½-point home favorites, which is always a concerning way to start a new season in which there was some promise. Due mostly to the Falcons doing next to nothing on offense, the under (48 points) easily hit. Some garbage-time points from the Falcons could have given the over some life but they still couldn’t get anything going.
The Falcons are pretty healthy overall, as their Week 1 injury report was essentially empty besides a couple depth players who were on injured reserve already. Health is one thing actually benefiting Atlanta right now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Next game: at Los Angeles Rams
The Buccaneers opened the season last Thursday with a tighter-than-necessary 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys as eight-point favorites. Tampa Bay led for most of the game and looked poised to run away with it and cover, but the Buccaneers’ offense stalled in the second half and committed four turnovers on the night. That allowed Dallas to take a late lead before Brady led a patented two-minute drill en route to a game-winning Ryan Succop field goal.
Both Brady (379 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs) and Dallas’ Prescott (403 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) went crazy through the air and both quarterbacks took advantage of their teams’ deep wide receiver groups. On the other hand, the running game was essentially non-existent on both sides.
The over (52 points) easily hit in the third quarter but with only six total points scored in the fourth quarter, it ended up being a relatively close call.
The Buccaneers are relatively healthy as well, but starting cornerback Sean-Murphy Bunting, who dislocated his right elbow against the Cowboys, is likely to be out for a few weeks. Safety Jordan Whitehead (hamstring) missed the entire preseason and Week 1, so his status for Sunday’s game is still up in the air.
Betting on the Game
The Buccaneers are currently favored by 12½ points on the BetUS Sportsbook, which is a big spread to ask any team to cover regardless of whether it won the Super Bowl the previous season or has a Hall of Famers at QB.
But, the spread given by the Las Vegas NFL odds does make sense. The Falcons might be the worst team in the NFC South and they just got crushed, at home by a team many people thought would be really bad. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are mostly healthy and are playing at home after a solid offensive performance. Atlanta’s passing defense was shredded by Hurts and Philadelphia’s suspect receivers, which doesn’t bode well for how it’ll do against Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Antonio Brown.
Also, Tampa Bay went 9-7 against the spread while the Falcons were 7-9 against the spread last season. But, those figures might undersell the Buccaneers in this matchup because Tampa Bay ended the 2020 regular season on a four-game winning streak (including 4-1 against the spread in the final five games) and swept the postseason. Even with the tight win over Dallas, the Buccaneers are a very hot team that is loaded basically all over the field.
After all the blowouts we saw in the NFL in Week 1, expect the 13-point spread to actually be bet up a little bit as the week progresses. There just isn’t much going in Atlanta’s favor to suggest that the Falcons will play better against Tampa Bay and its terrifying front seven than they did against the Eagles.
With that said, if you’re making NFL picks against the spread, look for the Falcons to cover anything more than 14 points. Divisional games involving a heavy underdog tend (but are not always) to be tighter than expected, often just based on the familiarity present between the teams. Atlanta does have a new coach and Brady has only been in the division for a little more than a season, but the sentiment remains because the Buccaneers have a clear target on their back.
At +500, the Falcons’ moneyline does provide good value for betting online but winning outright in Tampa would be a massive upset that likely would stun the entire league. Too much has to go right for Atlanta, between forcing multiple turnovers and maybe getting a defensive or special teams touchdown for that play to be worth its value though. Crazier things in the NFL have happened, for sure, but it’s tough to pull the trigger on a bet like that.
The over hit in both Falcons-Buccaneers games last season, and expect the same to happen this season. Atlanta’s passing game will bounce back a bit against a weakened Tampa Bay secondary that couldn’t really contain Ryan in 2020 while Brady will do what he does: put up points.
The Buccaneers are also on a four-game regular-season streak of hitting the over. The over/under of 52 could go up to around 54 or 55 points but, at that number, it’s a worthy bet. Both teams also have reliable kickers who aren’t big concerns in terms of missed extra points or field goals.