Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(5-2, 4-3 ATS)
(5-2, 4-3 ATS)
First place in the NFC South is on the line at the Georgia Dome on Sunday afternoon, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to pull off the shocker against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Bucs have been a real head scratching team this year. They really don’t seem to have any business of having five wins at the halfway point of the season, but they have played a schedule just chock full of teams that just aren’t very good. The two legit teams they ran up against this year, the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers, have absolutely killed them. Tampa Bay has a real leader that has emerged this season, as QB Josh Freeman has really been great. The second year man out of Kansas State is really doing a great job hanging onto the football, as he only has three INTs and has completed 60.3 percent of his passes. He has generated a number of comebacks this year and has sparked some hope for a franchise that has been down in the dumps for over a year now. The running game is a very interesting story. RB Cadillac Williams has started all seven games this year, but all of a sudden, RB LeGarrette Blount busted onto the scene last week with his first career 100 yard game. Blount has three of the Bucs’ four rushing touchdowns this year, while the Cadillac has been parked outside of the end zone all year.
The Falcons know that this is a great chance to really hit the second half of the year running towards the second season, and with so many other teams in the NFC struggle, this is a team that is becoming a trendy Super Bowl pick. A great battle to watch this week is going to be the duel between Tampa Bay DB Aqib Talib and Atlanta WR Roddy White. White has been one of the best receivers in football all season long, as he has 54 catches, 747 yards, and five scores this season. QB Matt Ryan has clearly been the happiest man in Atlanta because of White. The former Boston College Eagle has completed 61.9 percent of his passes this year for 1,714 yards and 12 TDs against just five picks. He also has gotten some great work from his two running backs this year. RB Michael Turner has 131 carries for 587 yards and three scores, and he is well on his way to another 1,000 yard season. DE John Abraham has sacked opposing quarterbacks six times this year, and the end result of all of that pressure on the QB has been 11 picks in just seven games for the ‘D’.
This is a heck of a lot of points to be giving the Bucs. This isn’t the same Tampa Bay team from last year that was rolled over by teams like this all season. The Bucs had covered five straight in this series before the January tussle last year in the Sunshine State. Don’t be shocked if this one ends up being very touch and go for both teams.
Pro Football Free Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +9