Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-6,
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened the season with a pair of
narrow home losses and now face the prospect of playing the
next three on the road, beginning with Thursday night’s matchup
against the NFC South-rival Atlanta Falcons. The Buccaneers are
trying to avoid a repeat of last season’s disastrous campaign,
when they opened with eight straight setbacks. “It’s trying to
take a deep breath, see the big picture,” quarterback Josh
McCown said. “We want to win right now.”
Tampa Bay’s injury-riddled defense will have to find a way to
contain Matt Ryan and Atlanta’s potent offense, which rolled up
37 points in a season-opening win versus New Orleans before
coming back to earth in last week’s 24-10 loss at Cincinnati.
“When you turn the ball over three times, you’re not going to
win,” Ryan said. “I have to be better.” The Falcons, who went
4-12 last season and wound up tied with the Buccaneers for last
place in the division, have split the past six meetings against
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS, NFL Network.
LINE HISTORY: The Falcons opened as 5.5-point
home favorites and were bet as high as -7, before settling back
down at -6. The total has held steady at 44.5 points.
INJURY REPORT: Tampa Bay – RB Doug Martin
(questionable Thursday, knee), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkis
(questionable Thursday, ankle), DE Michael Johnson
(questionable Thursday, ankle), DT Gerald McCoy (out Thursday,
hand). Atlanta – WR Roddy White (questionable Thursday,
hamstring), OT Jake Matthews (questionable Thursday,
WEATHER REPORT: Indoors.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Buccaneers (+4.25) –
Atlanta (-1.5) + home field (-3) = Falcons (-8.75)
WHAT BOOKS SAY:
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Both of these division
rivals enter this contest off disappointing efforts with each
of the coach Smith’s looking to right the ship. The
Falcons have been money in the bank at home in games off a pair
of losses under Mike Smith, going 9-1 against the spread.
Meanwhile, Lovie Smith needs this game like blood, hoping to
avoid a 0-3 start. Lovie’s 7-1 against the spread career mark
in division games off two losses-exact is a strong counter.” –
Expert Marc Lawrence.
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (0-2, 0-2 ATS, 0-2 O/U):
Tampa Bay has been decimated by injuries and is expected to be
without two more starters on defense after Pro Bowl tackle
Gerald McCoy (broken hand) and middle linebacker Mason Foster
(dislocated shoulder) were hurt last week. Starting running
back Doug Martin returned to practice Tuesday after missing
Sunday’s game with a knee injury, but backup Bobby Rainey
rushed for 144 yards in his absence. The passing game ranks
31st in the league and has yet to click under McCown, who has
three interceptions versus two TDs and is averaging 181 yards
per contest. The Buccaneers will be hard-pressed to slow down
Ryan and company after facing a pair of lightweight passing
attacks in the first two weeks.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (1-1, 1-1 ATS, 1-1 O/U): Ryan tossed
three scoring passes and set a franchise record with 448 yards
passing in a come-from-behind win over New Orleans, but he was
picked off three times and failed go get the ball in the end
zone until the fourth quarter at Cincinnati. Julio Jones
appears fully recovered from the foot injury that cut short his
2013 season, snatching 14 receptions for 204 yards and a TD,
but fellow wideout Roddy White missed practice on Tuesday due
to a hamstring injury to put his availability in doubt. While
Steven Jackson has rushed for only 98 yards in the first two
contests, a more pressing concern is a defense that ranks dead
last in the league – allowing an average total of 472 yards.
* Favorite is 5-1-1 ATS in the last seven meetings.
* Home team is 4-1-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Over is 4-0 in Buccaneers last four Thursday night games.
* Over is 4-0 in Falcons last four home games versus a team
with a losing road record.
COVERS CONSENSUS: A big 69 percent of wagers
are backing the Falcons at -6 in this division showdown.