Falcons vs. Buccaneers: Spread Info, Line and Predictions

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01:  Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons against Geno Hayes #54 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Georgia Dome on January 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons meet this Sunday in what could be the most fun matchup of the weekend.

Atlanta have been the class of the league so far. The Falcons are one of two teams in the NFL with only one loss. Matt Ryan is finally ascending into the elite category of quarterbacks.

On the other side, the Buccaneers started the season very slowly. They've been resurgent in recent weeks, led by rookie running back Doug Martin.

Here's a comprehensive preview of this Sunday's NFC South matchup.


When: Sunday, October 25, 1 p.m. ET

Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

TV: FOX (check local listings)

Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket

Listen: Buccaneers Radio Network, Falcons Radio Network


Spread: Even (via SportsBetting.ag)

Despite the Falcons' better record, most lines are either even or extremely close for this one.



Although Tampa is 6-4, they've caught fire lately. The Buccaneers have won their last four and five of their last six. The run has been led by running back Doug Martin, and with Atlanta's poor defense against the run, he'll have another big game.

It won't be enough, though, because Matt Ryan is going to torch a pass defense that's giving up over 300 yards a game. If you're determined to bet on this one, take the Falcons.


Over/Under: 50 (via SportsBetting.ag)

This is one of the highest over/unders of the weekend, but you should still take the over. Atlanta and Tampa are combining for about 56 points a game. The Buccaneers haven't gone below 27 points in their four-game winning streak, and the Falcons have scored under 23 points only one time in 2012.

As mentioned earlier, both defenses are lacking in key areas—Atlanta against the run and Tampa against the pass. It's going to be a pretty open game with a lot of scoring.

The injuries for Matt Ryan and Michael Turner are a bit worrisome if you're considering the over, but they should be able to give very good performances. 


Injury Report (via CBS Sports)


Atlanta Falcons

WR Julio Jones, Ankle, Questionable

DE John Abraham, Back, Questionable

DT Jonathan Babineaux, Neck, Questionable

K Matt Bryant, Back, Probable

WR Kevin Cone, Groin, Questionable

DT Peria Jerry, Quadriceps, Questionable

S Charles Mitchell, Calf, Questionable

CB Christopher Owens, Thigh, Questionable

QB Matt Ryan, Left Finger, Probable

CB Asante Samuel, Shoulder, Questionable

RB Michael Turner, Groin, Probable

DT Vance Walker, Ribs, Questionable

LB Sean Weatherspoon, Ankle Questionable


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

DE Michael Bennett, Shoulder, Probable

S Cody Grimm, Hamstring Questionable

DE Aaron Morgan, Shoulder, Probable

WR Tiquan Underwood, Head, Probable

CB Eric Wright, Achilles, Questionable


Fantasy Big Plays

Atlanta: QB Matt Ryan

The left finger might be a bit of problem, but it's on his non-throwing hand. It's more likely to be a nuisance for Ryan rather than something more serious.

Tampa Bay is dead last in the league against the pass. However, the Buccaneers are third in the league in interceptions, with 15.

Ryan will be looking to rebound from his five-interception performance against the Cardinals last week. Aside from that game, he has been very good in avoiding big mistakes. He's only been picked off seven times in the Falcons' other nine games.

It's appropriate that during Thanksgiving weekend, Ryan is going to feast on the Buccaneers' secondary.

Projected Stats: 25-36, 278 yards, 2 TDs


Tampa Bay: RB Doug Martin

Martin has been a revelation this season. Although he was a first-round pick, no one could have expected him to explode onto the scene the way he has.

Atlanta has a spotty run defense, giving up 130 yards a game. LaRod Stephens-Howling was able to run for 127 yards last week against the Falcons.

This spells big trouble this Sunday for fantasy owners who are facing teams with Martin. Of course, on the other hand, if you have Martin, you won't be able to count all the points he'll give you fast enough.

Projected Stats: 25 carries, 142 yards, 1 TD


Key to Victory

Withstand the Onslaught

Neither team will likely be able to keep the opposition off the board for very long.

This matchup features two good offenses facing off against suspect defenses. It's going to come down to taking the body blows, then stiffening up in the red zone and limiting the offense to three points.

The team that wins this game will be the one whose defense makes key stops when necessary.



The offensive balance for Tampa Bay might put them over the top. Josh Freeman is good enough Atlanta won't be able to stack the box to try and stop Martin.

Regardless, Atlanta has too many weapons and will overwhelm the Buccaneers defense. Vegas is dead right because this game is going to be extremely close.

Final Score: Atlanta 31, Tampa Bay 27


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