Thursday NFL Betting: Tampa Bay at Atlanta

Thursday NFL Betting:  Tampa Bay at Atlanta

Thursday night prime time NFL action features a NFC South matchup between the 0-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 1-1 Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Both of the Bucs’ first two games were at home where they lost to Carolina 20-14 and to St. Louis 19-17. They were 4′ point favorites in both games so they’re also 0-2 against the spread but they kept things reasonably competitive. Atlanta upset the New Orleans Saints at home in week 1 before going on the road and getting thumped 24-10 by the Cincinnati Bengals last week. Atlanta’s defense–particularly their pass defense–looks like it could be problematic again this year.

We noted above that Tampa Bay had been fairly competitive in both games this season but ‘upon further review’ things don’t look that impressive. They were favored in both games at home and lost outright, which is never a good sign. Carolina was without Cam Newton in their game so Derek Anderson was under center for the Panthers. St. Louis had a bigger problem at quarterback but managed to beat the Bucs with third stringer Austin Davis under center. That means they lost two highly winnable games and must now go on the road and play a dangerous Atlanta Falcons team in prime time. Tampa Bay’s defense has played fairly well so far (with the caveats outlined previously) but their offense has been their undoing scoring only 31 points in two games. They will get running back Doug Martin back here and that should help things. What might help things even more is Atlanta’s very porous defense.

The Falcons offense is loaded with talent but aside from quarterback Matt Ryan there are questions as to whether players like Julio Jones, Devin Hester and Steven Jackson are on the downside of their career. The Falcons have a banged up offensive line but in theory they should be able to easily outscore Tampa Bay. The Bucs have typically been competitive in their trips to Atlanta covering 11 of the last 16 spots. Tampa Bay isn’t a good team but they could keep this one close with a decent effort. Look for Atlanta to win but look for Tampa Bay to stay inside the number.