Buccaneers vs. Falcons Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds: How to Play the Highest Over/Under of Week 12
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2).
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons sports the highest over/under of NFL Week 12.
- Our experts analyze this divisional matchup, complete with betting odds and expert picks.
- You'll also find analysis of the biggest mismatch and Sean Koerner's projected spread below.
Buccaneers at Falcons Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds
- Odds: Falcons -4
- Over/Under: 51.5
- Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: FOX
Odds as of Thursday evening.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons meet in an NFC South showdown between two high-powered offenses. The public likes the matchup and the over — which is the highest of the week — as nearly 70% of tickets expect these teams to eclipse the total.
Our experts analyze all the angles of this matchup including a comparison of the current odds to Sean Koerner’s projections, a Pro System match and more.
Buccaneers-Falcons Injury Report
Which team is healthier? Bucs
The Bucs are in pretty good shape with just linebacker Anthony Nelson (hamstring) and cornerback M.J. Stewart (knee) missing practice this week. Linebackers Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) and Carl Nassib (groin) are trending in the right direction with their limited practices.
Nelson’s potential absence is a big loss for their run defense as Pro Football Focus graded him as their best run defender. Defensive lineman William Gholston (ankle) is another injury to watch as he also brings a strong presence up front.
Julio Jones was held out of Wednesday’s practice with a foot injury, but there shouldn’t be anything to worry about after he practiced in full on Thursday. Considering Austin Hooper (knee) and Devonta Freeman (foot) still haven’t returned to practice, I wouldn’t expect them to play again. — Justin Bailey
Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.
Falcons Pass Offense vs. Buccaneers Pass Defense
This is a delicious matchup. The Falcons are No. 1 in the league with a 67.7% pass play rate, and the Bucs have allowed the second-most air yards and yards after the catch combined with 480.5 per game (per AirYards.com).
The Bucs have the league’s most extreme funnel defense. They rank No. 1 against the run but No. 30 against the pass in DVOA (per Football Outsiders). The Falcons should be motivated to pass, and they do it well.
Even though he missed Week 8, quarterback Matt Ryan is still well on his way to a ninth consecutive 4,000-yard passing campaign. Since his 2016 MVP campaign, Ryan leads the league with 16,626 yards passing.
The Bucs, meanwhile, are a total mess at cornerback.
Last week they waived Vernon Hargreaves III and benched Jamel Dean and Ryan Smith. Perimeter corner Carlton Davis returned from injury last week, but they were without starter-turned-backup-turned-starter M.J. Stewart (knee), and he has yet to practice this week.
In Stewart’s absence, the Bucs have been forced to use rookie dime safety Mike Edwards at slot corner. The Bucs are in full-blown “let’s try anything” mode at cornerback, and whatever they try never seems to work.
As I highlight in my Week 12 WR/CB piece, all three of Ryan’s wide receivers — Jones, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage — have advantageous matchups.
Jones in particular is well positioned. He’s likely to run most of his routes against rookie cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting, who has allowed four touchdowns in his four games as a full-time defender. Jones might get 150 yards and two touchdowns on his own.
Last season, Ryan had 355 yards and three touchdowns in Week 6 and 378 yards and two touchdowns in Week 17 against the Bucs, and they’re definitely not any better this season in pass defense.
Ryan and the Falcons have 400-yard, multi-touchdown passing upside against the Bucs. — Matthew Freedman
Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds
- Projected Spread: Falcons -5
- Projected Total: 53
For the past two weeks I had highlighted the massive difference between the Falcons’ Pythagorean expected wins versus their actual record — it was clear that the public was likely underrating them until they started pulling off some wins.
We have to remember that this very Falcons team was 16-1 to win the Super Bowl over the summer, so it can be dangerous to completely write them off after just half a season. Sure enough, their defense has done a complete 180 after their Week 9 bye and held the Saints and Panthers to 12 total points to go 2-0 over the past two games.
A lot of speculation has been made that moving WR coach Raheem Morris to become DB coach could be the cause of the turn around. This could be true, but I think a lot of it stems from the simple explanation that this team is regressing toward what we expected from them heading into 2019.
It appears the market has correctly adjusted to where I have them now, so this is a no bet from me — though it’s important to at least understand why it’s key to get ahead of public perception, like we had done with the Falcons the past two weeks. — Sean Koerner
PRO System Match
Since 2003, the under is 825-732-29 (53.0%) in division games. Unders have been a smart play in division games as increased familiarity between teams creates a lower-scoring environment.
It may seem obvious to some bettors, but it’s been more profitable to take the under in division games with high totals (more than 44 points). It’s just easier for unders to cash when more points are expected to be scored.
Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 182-110-3 (62.3%) since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $6,298 following this strategy.
This total opened 54.5 and has been bet down to 51.5, an indication sharps are on the under. — John Ewing
PRO Systems are data-driven betting strategies that turn winning long-term trends into easy-to-follow picks, all handpicked and monitored by our team of analysts. Try Action PRO now and instantly access real-time game matches for every PRO System.
Stuckey: Over 51
Yes, the Falcons defense has performed significantly better over the past two games, which you could argue coincides with Raheem Morris and Jeff Ulbricht taking over defensive play-calling. It may have had a slight positive impact, but I’m still not buying this Falcons defense as a whole.
I have always liked the defensive line, led by McKinley, Clayborn, Jarrett and Co. — although a number of their key contributors are dealing with injuries — but the secondary is still a major weakness and it’s something Jameis Winston can exploit.
The same can be said for the Bucs, who have a rock solid defensive line. Todd Bowles’ 3-4 defense has excelled at defending the run thanks to the interior bodies such as Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea eating up blocks to free up the linebackers. As a result, the Bucs are only allowing 3.5 yards per rush, which ranks third in the NFL. Tampa also ranks No. 1 in rush defense DVOA.
However, in complete contrast, its secondary has been nothing short of a horror show, ranking 30th in pass defense DVOA. Simply put, their secondary is bad. And as I alluded to before, the Falcons have similar DVOA splits at 11th against the run and 27th against the pass.
We have two offenses that struggle to run the ball — they are two of the 11 teams that average fewer than four yards per carry — so don’t expect much on the ground. However, you can expect plenty of explosive plays through the air with two offenses that feature two of the most dynamic wide receiver duos in the league.
I expect a good ol’ fashioned shootout in Atlanta between teams out of playoff contention. I wouldn’t be shocked if both almost completely abandon the run, which will also slow the clock down. And both of these teams play on the faster side, ranking in the top 10 in plays per second.
Plus, you can probably count on a few Winston gift points as well, which won’t hurt the over.