Falcons at Buccaneers: Preview, Predictions and More

Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Atlanta Falcons are travelling to Tampa Bay to battle the Bucs in a big NFC South showdown. The Falcons are coming off of arguably their biggest win of the season, beating the Green Bay Packers 33-32 on Sunday. It was a signature win for a Falcons team that is trying to prove they belong in the conservation when it comes to NFC elites.

For the Buccaneers, they are coming off of a tough overtime loss to the Raiders at home. While moral victories don’t count in sports, head coach Dirk Koetter has to be encouraged by his team’s performance on Sunday. There were a lot of positives his young team could take from the loss.

Here are our three keys to victory for each team.

Falcons Keys to Victory

1. Load the Box and Stop the Run: The Falcons have to slow down Jacquizz Rodgers and the Bucs running game. Tampa averages a respectable 113.4 yards per game on the ground. The Bucs want to establish their ground game and set up play-action. Atlanta needs to get Jameis Winston and company into second and long and third and long situations as much as possible.

2. Bracket Mike Evans: Tampa’s passing game has struggled at times because, other than Mike Evans, Tampa Bay lacks a viable second and third option in the passing game. Look for Atlanta to bracket or double team Mike Evans in certain situations. If I were Dan Quinn, I would make guys like Russell Shepard and Adam Humphries beat me.

3. Open in No-Huddle: Atlanta should open the game in no huddle. Put pressure on the Bucs early by wearing them down and scoring first. If the Falcons can play with the lead in this game, it would take the Bucs out of their game plan.

Buccaneers Keys to Victory

1. Jameis Winston Must Play Well and Protect the Ball: The Buccaneers need Jameis Winston to get off to a good start in this game. Atlanta has the league’s number one offense so it is imperative that Winston plays well and matches Matt Ryan score for score. The Bucs must score at least 28 points if they want to win this game.

2. Ball Control: This Bucs team also needs to establish the running game early in this one. It is imperative that they keep Matt Ryan and company on the sideline by controlling the clock. The Bucs don’t want this to turn into a shootout. In order to avoid that, they must play good defense and run the football.

3. Don’t Turn the Ball Over: The Bucs are a -2 in the turnover department. They have to take care of the football and they must force a couple of turnovers if they want to have any chance of winning this game.

Odds

Point Spread: Atlanta -3.5

Money Line: Atlanta-180 Tampa Bay +160

Over/Under: 51

Prediction

The Falcons picked up a big win on Sunday against the Packers and, in the process, put themselves in the driver’s seat in the NFC South. Tampa beat the Falcons on opening weekend, but this is a completely different Atlanta team now. The Dirty Birds are a more confident bunch and with the defense playing better, there is no reason why they can’t go into Tampa and beat a Bucs team that is inconsistent. We like Atlanta by two scores in this game.

Pick: Atlanta Falcons: 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 17

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