There aren’t many teams in the league that have had a tougher start to the schedule this year than the Falcons have. Games against the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, and now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are pretty dreadful, and things are only getting harder, not easier. WR Roddy White really hasn’t been heard from all that much this year, though he did find the end zone in an otherwise quiet game against the Eagles. QB Matt Ryan deserves a heck of a lot of credit though, for hanging in there against one of the best secondaries that the NFL has seen in a number of years to lead a comeback of epic proportions to seal up the 35-31 win and avoid dropping a second straight game to start the season. RB Michael Turner hasn’t played all that well, though he does have two 100+ yard games thanks to a pair of 50+ yard runs, one in each of the last two weeks. The defense has some questions though, as 30+ points allowed in back to back weeks has to be alarming, especially now going on the road against a Tampa Bay offense that at times has looked amazing.
The Bucs looked dead in the water last week after getting off to such a sluggish start against the Minnesota Vikings. There wasn’t any continuity whatsoever with the offense, and RB Adrian Peterson was just gashing hole after hole in the defense. That being said, whatever Head Coach Raheem Morris said at halftime must have been awfully impressive, because the team staged a great comeback to erase that 17-0 deficit and to turn it into a big 24-20 victory to avoid falling to 0-2 as well. QB Josh Freeman just has a great quarterback pedigree in his blood, and he is clearly inching up on that next tier of quarterbacks that have the ability to win a championship. In spite of the fact that WR Arrelious Benn and WR Mike Williams only had a grand total of two catches on the day (one of which went for a TD, and the other of which went for -4 yards), Freeman was still able to use other targets like TE Kellen Winslow Jr. and WR Preston Parker to lead his team down the field for scores in the second half.
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pick: The Bucs are rightfully favored by a short number in this game. We tend to think that this is going to be a fantastic duel, and potentially one that goes back and forth quite a bit in the second half. That being said, home field advantage in a game like this goes a long way, and we think that that will make all the difference in the world come Sunday at sunset. Look for the Bucs to pull one out of their backsides right at the death again.
NFL Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1.5 at Bookmaker Sportsbook.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.