Falcons vs. Buccaneers Betting Odds & Pick: How to Bet This Battle of Two Improved Defenses

Falcons vs. Buccaneers Betting Odds & Pick: How to Bet This Battle of Two Improved Defenses article feature image

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jameis Winston

  • The Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers face-off in a no-stakes matchup.
  • Our experts preview the Week 17 matchup, featuring betting odds and a staff pick on the over/under.
  • You'll also find analysis of the biggest mismatch and Sean Koerner's projected spread.

Falcons at Buccaneers Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Pick ‘Em
  • Over/Under: 48
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

Odds as of Thursday and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

It’s a disappointing end to the season for the high-flying Falcons and Buccaneers, but the NFC South rivals match-up to end the 2019 campaign.

Our experts preview the game, featuring analysis of the biggest mismatch and a staff pick.

Falcons-Buccaneers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Falcons

With just one game remaining, it’s not shocking to see Atlanta scale back on Julio Jones’s (shoulder) practice participation. That’s been the story the last few weeks.

Wide receiver Chris Godwin (hamstring) still isn’t practicing and I wouldn’t expect him to play in the last game of the season. Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson will continue to get the primary run at receiver. Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

Julio Jones vs. Bucs Cornerbacks

In Week 12, Jones had a disappointing 5-68-0 receiving performance on 10 targets against the Bucs, but this week I expect much more production.

No. 2 wide receiver Calvin Ridley (abdomen, IR) is out, and without Ridley over the past two weeks, Jones has exploded, turning 35 targets into 300 yards and two touchdowns.

The only wide receivers on the team competing for targets with Jones are Russell Gage and Christian Blake, neither of whom opened the season as a starter. We shouldn’t expect Julio to get 15 or more targets like he’s seen in each of the past two games, but an eight-target minimum seems reasonable.

In his 15 career games against the division rival Bucs, Jones has averaged 117.5 yards and 0.73 touchdowns on 10.5 targets and 7.1 receptions per game. I usually avoid putting too much weight on player-vs.-team splits, but in the case of Julio and the Bucs, there really might be something there: The Bucs have been consistently bad for so long, and the Falcons know how best to attack them because they play each other two times per year.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones

The Bucs have a funnel defense ranked No. 1 against the run but No. 15 against the pass (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric). So the Falcons should be incentivized to pass against the Bucs, and it’s not as if the Falcons need extra motivation to throw: They lead the league with a 67.1% pass play rate.

The Bucs have allowed an NFL-high 221 receptions and 2,968 yards receiving to wide receivers, and they have yielded the third-most air yards and yards after the catch combined to opposing teams with 462.3 per game.

Cornerbacks Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting are not without promise, but they collectively form one of the league’s most inexperienced starting trios.

Against the Bucs, Julio has 150-yard, multi-touchdown potential. Matthew Freedman

PRO System Match

Unders have been a smart play in division matchups as increased familiarity between teams creates a lower-scoring environment — unders have gone 843-744-29 (53.1%) since 2003.

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 195-114-3 (63.1%) since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $7,135 following this strategy.

More than 70% of tickets are on the over but the total has decreased from 49.5 to 48. The line movement suggests over bettors will be disappointed by the outcome of the game.  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.

Expert Pick

Stuckey: Under 48

These are two defenses that have been trending up in the second half of the season. The Falcons have clearly remained motivated despite a 1-7 start with questions surrounding the future of head coach Dan Quinn. Since their bye, Atlanta has gone 5-2 since with a pair of road wins over the two potential top seeds in the NFC: New Orleans and San Francisco.

What has been the biggest difference? The defense. After allowing a total of 250 points in the first 8 games (31.25 average), Atlanta has only allowed 127 points in its past seven for an average just above 18 points — almost two touchdowns lower than the first eight. The third down defense in particular has been terrific over that stretch and players have just generally been in better position.

So, what changed? Quinn surrendered his play calling duties on the defensive side of the ball right around when the turnaround occurred. It also took some time for the Falcons to figure out how to replace Keanu Neal and the young corners are playing much better in the second half of the season. It also hasn’t hurt that Vic Beasley came to life after the bye.

Regarding the Buccaneers, the run defense has been stout all year and they currently lead the league with an opponent average of 3.3 yards per attempt. But the biggest improvement has been in the secondary which was an absolute mess in the first half of the year.

Rookie corner Jamel Dean, who didn’t even see more than two snaps in a game until week 9, has been a revelation at one corner spot. Per Pro Football Focus, Dean now ranks sixth in coverage among 116 corners with at least 300 snaps on the season. Also, Carlton Davis looks like a different player than we saw early in the year at the other corner spot. And his improved play has him up to 18th on that same list with Dean.

This unit has gone from one of the worst pass defenses in the league to two corners now grading as top 20 cover guys. You gotta give credit to Todd Bowles, who now has this defense up to No. 6 DVOA — No. 1 against the run and now all the way up to No. 12 against the pass.

Basically, we have two rapidly improving defenses that I think are being undervalued by the market taking on two offenses that have lost a plethora of talent on the outside. The Bucs lost Chris Godwin and Mike Evans while the Falcons traded Sanu and lost Calvin Ridley to injury. Give me the under here in this late season divisional matchup outdoors in Tampa.

Stuckey is 316-262-8 (54.7%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

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