Free NFL Pick for Thursday Tampa Bay at Atlanta
by CarbonSports - 9/16/2014
CarbonSports.ag Game Line : Tampa Bay (+7) vs. Atlanta (-7)
An NFC South game kicks off Week 3 action as the Buccaneers and Falcons come into this contest off defeats. Tampa actually hasn't won a game yet this season after they blew a lead late to the Rams on Sunday and need this game to avoid falling to 0-3 and practically out of it before the season really gets going. Atlanta did not play well against the Bengals, but they are 1-0 SU within the division after beating the Saints in Week 1 and are touchdown favorites to go 2-0 SU in NFC South competition with a win here.
These two teams split their season series a year ago in the midst of bad seasons for both franchises. Both games saw plenty of points with the Falcons winning 31-23 at home while the Bucs bounced back in the rematch with a 41-28 home victory. The winner in these contests has scored at least 24 points in six of their last eight meetings and we could see more fireworks here. Tampa has yet to go over a total this season, but with this being the start of three straight on the road for the Bucs (two vs division rivals), their offense better kick it into gear soon.
The problem for the Bucs is the fact that they are 1-4 ATS the last five times they've played on Thursday Night Football with the most recent game coming at home against against Carolina last year. That day the Panthers won 31-13 as the Bucs defense couldn't stop anything. Tampa is 4-0 O/U in their last four appearances on TNF and although they've been involved in two low-scoring games already this year, that should change this week.
Atlanta's dome is always a good spot for high-scoring games and with a 8-3 O/U record in their last 11 at home the numbers back that up. The Falcons are also 7-1 O/U after allowing 250+ passing yards with that lone under coming last week against the Bengals. Atlanta's secondary is a huge concern for them this year as they've been torched in both games so far, and although Tampa only has a "game manager" at QB in Josh McCown, the wily veteran will find some success through the air.
It's the Falcons secondary woes that should have everyone considering laying the -7 worried because Atlanta's shown they can't stop anything this year. The Saints ran up and down the field against them in Week 1, and the Bengals had three different receivers connect for 46-yard, 50-yard, and 76-yard passing plays. Tampa WR Vincent Jackson is primed for a big day with those kind of numbers for Falcons opponents as long as McCown can get him the ball.
Yet, I wouldn't trust the Bucs with the +7 points either because they have yet to face a dynamic offense like the Falcons this year. In fact, Tampa's 0-2 SU record has come against two backup QB's and that doesn't bode well for them against the likes of Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and Julio Jones.
Even though it's a short week for both, these teams know each other quite well and don't necessarily need significant prep time to have success. After two back-and-forth shootouts a year ago, I'm expecting that trend to continue this season as this game turns into a track meet in a hurry and sails well over this number of 45.
Take the over.
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