The Atlanta Falcons swept their NFC South rivalry with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year both straight up and against the spread and are now 7-3 SU and 5-4-1 ATS over the last 10 meetings in the series. The division-leading Falcons look to extend their recent rule over the Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Dome.
Point spread: The Falcons opened as seven-point favorites; the total was 49 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).
NFL pick, via Odds Shark computer: 26.2-21.3 Falcons
Why the Buccaneers can cover the spread
Tampa is 2-4 SU and 3-3 ATS this season but could be better on both counts. Last week, the Bucs grabbed a 24-0 lead against Washington, only to allow the Redskins to rally and take a 31-30 decision. On the day, Tampa Bay outgained the Redskins by 125 yards and outrushed them 190-50, resulting in a cover as a three-point road dog, although the victory would have been nice too.
Three weeks ago, the Bucs beat Jacksonville 38-31, outgaining and outrushing the Jaguars. Just before that, while they lost to Carolina 37-23, they outgained and outrushed the Panthers but gave up two defensive touchdowns. So Tampa has outgained and outrushed each of its last three opponents.
Why the Falcons can cover the spread
Atlanta bounced back after suffering its first loss of this season two weeks ago at New Orleans to win at Tennessee last week 10-7. And if the Falcons hadn't come up empty on two plays from the Titans' 1-yard line in the third quarter and missed a field goal, they might have covered as five-point road chalk.
On the day, Atlanta outgained Tennessee by 120 yards, outrushed the Titans 127-77 and won time of possession by a 35-25 margin, all while an improved Falcons defense held Tennessee to just 1-of-9 on third-down conversions. Figures like those usually result in covers.
For the season, Atlanta has outgained five of seven opponents and outrushed six of seven.
The Falcons might seem like an obvious choice here, but Tampa Bay is playing some better ball as of late. Also, as the home team, Atlanta might be favored by a bit too much in this spot. As long as Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston takes care of the ball—Tampa is 2-1 SU, 3-0 ATS this season in games he hasn't thrown an interception—they stand a nice chance of covering as divisional dogs.
- The Buccaneers are 4-19 ATS in their last 23 games in Week 8.
- The total has gone over in nine of the Falcons' last 12 games as home favorites.
- The Buccaneers are 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 games against the Falcons in November.