In an NFC South battle, the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3) head to Atlanta this week to face the Falcons (5-6).
The Buccaneers have had some bumps along the way this season as they attempt to win back-to-back Super Bowls, but they’ve hit their stride as of late, winning six of their last eight games.
The Falcons sit below .500, yet are tied for second in the NFC South and are somehow still in the NFC playoff picture. Atlanta would be out of the playoffs if they started today, but they’re only a tiebreaker away from being the seventh seed.
Let’s take a look at how Tampa Bay and Atlanta stack up for this matchup in our NFL pick of the day series.
Please note that all NFL gameday odds are current as of 9:30 AM ET on Friday, December 3.
Buccaneers vs Falcons Prediction
In a way, both the Falcons and Buccaneers have lived up to expectations this season. The Bucs are one of the best teams in the NFC, while the Falcons are right in the middle of the pack.
While the Buccaneers have had to deal with some injuries (especially to their secondary), they’ve continued chugging along and have positioned themselves to battle for the NFC’s first-round bye.
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Tom Brady is somehow among the league favorites for an MVP trophy at age 44, Leonard Fournette has been playing like one of the best running backs in the league, and Chris Godwin and Mike Evans have ably picked up the slack at receiver while Antonio Brown has been out.
The Falcons come into this game having lost two of their last three but can still play their way into the postseason with a strong December.
While they’ve had to deal with the absence of Calvin Ridley and an underperforming defense, Matt Ryan has been solid, and Cordarrelle Patterson has managed to reinvent himself as an offensive weapon.
While anything is possible in intra-divisional matchups, the Bucs handled the Falcons easily in a 48-25 whopping earlier this year, and I don’t see anything that should change that dynamic in this matchup.
Prediction: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 17
Buccaneers vs Falcons Best Bets
Best Bet: Buccaneers -11 (-105) at Caesars
Wager: 0.5 Units
This is a big spread, but just four of the Buccaneers’ eight wins this season have been within a margin of 11 points or less. And while the game was closer than the score indicated, the Bucs were able to beat Atlanta by 23 the last time they played them.
The Falcons, on the other hand, have managed to lose by 11 or more in four of their six losses this season, so this spread might be a tad generous to them.
Though it’s hard to be confident about such a big spread (hence the lower unit total), it’s hard to see the Falcons keeping this one close, even at home.
Best Bet: Buccaneers Moneyline (-550) at Caesars
Wager: 2 Units
I’m upping my confidence to two units on this one, and I don’t see any way the Buccaneers drop a game to the Falcons. Sure, “any given Sunday" and all, but the Falcons don’t have nearly as talented a roster as the Buccaneers do.
The talent Atlanta does have doesn’t match up well to beat the Buccaneers, as one of the Falcons’ best weapons in Patterson will be facing a Buccaneers defensive front that ranks among the best in the league at stopping the run.
While the Bucs can be beaten through the air, Matt Ryan is essentially relying on just Kyle Pitts at this point, so it’s hard to see how Atlanta will put up enough points to pull off the upset, making this our NFL pick of the day.
Best Bet: Under 50.5 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
The Falcons defense has allowed 27.5 points per game, which is second-worst in the league. On the other side, the Buccaneers defense has let up 23 points per game, which is right in the middle of the league.
Offensively, the Buccaneers’ offense currently leads the league at 31 points scored per game, while the Falcons offense has only scored 18.1 points per game, which is sixth-worst.
Those averages get us close to a 50-point total, but the Falcons offense has been abysmal as of late, scoring just 17 points total over their last three games.
If we go over 50 points in this one, it will likely require at least 35 points from the Bucs, so I’m going with the Under.
Nick Raducanu’s 2021 NFL Team vs Team Betting Record: 13-6 (+8.5 Units)
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