Tampa Bay was favored in each of its first two outings and yet it enters tonight’s game with an 0-2 record. Perhaps the Buccaneers will welcome a change in scenery (their first two games were at home) as well as a different role. They will get both this evening as the latest Buccaneers vs Falcons pick from Bovada.lv has hosting Atlanta listed as a 2014 Thursday Night Football odds favorite. Matt Ryan and company are drawing a -7 NFL odds spread while the Over/Under is coming in at 45.5 points.
Atlanta opened its season in spectacular fashion, scoring a 37-34 overtime win against the Saints at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons offensive numbers were prolific as they produced 28 first downs and 568 total yards. Enjoying a career day for Atlanta was Matt Ryan, who threw for 448 yards and three touchdowns without registering an interception.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, they found the Bengals a tougher nut to crack when the two squads hooked up a Paul Brown Stadium last weekend. Atlanta’s offense and Ryan wilted against Cincinnati’s formidable defense, the former tallying just 309 yards while the latter completed 24-of-44 passes for 231 yards, one touchdown and three picks. The Falcons defense performed poorly as well, giving up 472 yards in the 24-10 loss.
The Buccaneers can certainly relate to how the Falcons must have felt after last Sunday’s loss as their offense was anemic in weeks one and two. Tampa Bay managed all of 17 first downs and 264 yards in its season opening loss to the Panthers and, while better in last week’s 17-19 loss to the Rams, it mustered a lackluster 332 yards.
On a positive note, though, the Buccaneers were effective moving the ball on the ground in both games, rushing for a total of 259 yards on 47 carries (5.5 yards per carry). While running back Doug Martin is questionable for tonight’s game, Tampa Bay’s ground success should continue.
The Falcons are 26th in the league in rush defense, having allowed a total of 309 yards on 73 attempts, and Bobby Rainey did a fabulous job filling in for Martin last week. Rainey did not find the end-zone, but he rushed for 144 yards on 22 carries and he also caught three passes for 30 yards.
Kickoff in tonight’s rivalry tilt between the Bucs and Falcons is set for 8:25 p.m. ET at the Georgia; the game can be seen live on the NFL Network and CBS.
Series Notes: While Atlanta has been the more successful of these two franchises in recent seasons, Tampa Bay has enjoyed its share of success against the Falcons the last three years, producing a 3-3 record against its division rival. The Buccaneers are, however, just 1-5 in their last six trips to the Georgia Dome.
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Buccaneers vs Falcons Pick 2014 Thursday Night Football Odds: Provided by Bovada.lv
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7 (-115), Over 45.5 (-110), +235 (Moneyline)
Atlanta Falcons -7 (-105), Under 45.5 (-110), -275 (Moneyline)