Bucs-Falcons Odds, NFL Predictions, Picks: Bet On Offensive Fireworks This Sunday For Week 13
Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady.
- Atlanta's defense has been carved apart by strong offenses. Are the Buccaneers next in line?
- Our analyst examines updated Bucs vs. Falcons odds in order to make his predictions and picks below.
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
With New Orleans losing to Dallas on Thursday, the Atlanta Falcons remained in second in the NFC South. Wait, what?
The Falcons are DVOA’s worst team in the NFL, yet they sit at 5-6 and tied for seventh place in the NFC. This isn’t a team that is out of the playoff picture, despite its perceived market weakness.
That’s all good and well for Atlanta, until you look at its upcoming schedule: Road trips to San Francisco and Buffalo remain, as does a visit from Tom Brady and his Buccaneers on Sunday. Tampa is DVOA’s No. 1 team and has moved back into its preseason position as Super Bowl favorites.
There is a case for Atlanta being somewhat undervalued by both DVOA and the market. The Falcons offense has had some really putrid performances recently, most notably against New England in primetime, but they still may be underrated.
Does that mean we should run to the window to back Atlanta against a juggernaut like Tampa Bay? Backing the Falcons is usually more painful than a root canal, and it is generally an easy way to ruin your Sunday. If you want to bet on the Falcons, they’re far more backable against teams like the Jags last Sunday or the Panthers next weekend.
Instead of doing that, there is another look here — the total. Given Atlanta’s underrated offense and Tampa Bay’s ruthless efficiency, there is a case for points in this game. Here is that case.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Bucs vs. Falcons Injury Report
- WR Jaelon Darden (concussion): Out
- S Jordan Whitehead (calf): Out
- S Mike Edwards (suspension): Out
- CB Jamel Dean (shoulder): Questionable
- G Ali Marpet (abdomen): Questionable
- LB Devin White (quad): Questionable
- DT Jonathan Bullard (ankle): Out
Bucs vs. Falcons Matchup
|Bucs Offense||DVOA Rank||Falcons Defense|
|Bucs Defense||DVOA Rank||Falcons Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Buccaneers Should Score at Will
This will come as a surprise to nobody — there’s a reason why the Buccaneers’ team total is set around 30.5 depending on the shop. Tampa Bay was expected to be a top-flight offense in 2021, and it has lived up to expectation. Tom Brady is the leading candidate for MVP, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are dominating on the outside, and Rob Gronkowski has caught touchdowns in the red zone when he’s been active.
What is different about this Buccaneers team is how effective its ground game has been. Tampa Bay currently leads the NFL in rushing success rate and expected points added (EPA) per rush. The Bucs are one of three teams with a success rate on the ground above 50%, alongside Philadelphia and Kansas City. The offense looks to be on the rise this week as well, with left guard Ali Marpet practicing again. The Falcons have a handful of very good defensive players, one of whom is Grady Jarrett at defensive tackle. Having Marpet back helps Tampa neutralize Jarrett’s presence.
The Falcons defense is bad, and the only time this unit has stepped up has been against the bad offenses on its schedule. Atlanta ranks dead last in success rate defensively and bottom five in both EPA/dropback and EPA/rush allowed. When the Falcons have stepped up in class, it only gets worse. Atlanta allowed 32 points against the Eagles, 35 against Tampa, 34 against Washington and 43 against Dallas.
Much had been made about Tampa Bay’s struggles on the road this year leading up to last weekend’s game in Indianapolis. The Bucs are now 1-5 on the road. One should have no fear trusting Brady of all quarterbacks to handle his business on the road, particularly this weekend in a dome. Last year in Atlanta, Brady threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns against a Falcons unit that was more talented.
Falcons Offense Remains Undervalued
The Falcons rank 31st in offensive DVOA, only ahead of the Houston Texans. Is that a fair characterization of this offense’s capabilities going forward? I’m not so sure.
For an offense to be 31st in DVOA but to rank ninth in passing success rate and 13th in EPA/dropback is a fairly large disconnect. The Falcons cannot run the ball — only Houston is worse — but this is a passing league now. Teams score by throwing the ball, and Atlanta is not a terrible passing offense.
Now, Calvin Ridley was in the lineup for the first five weeks, but even since his absence, Atlanta’s passing numbers have remained steady. Kyle Pitts is a solid target for Matt Ryan, and jack-of-all-trades running back Cordarelle Patterson has become an extremely valuable piece to this offense. Patterson is clearly the Falcons’ best option at RB, and his skills out of the backfield have helped immensely.
This offense had a good amount of success in the Week 2 matchup with the Buccaneers. Matt Ryan threw a pair of late pick-sixes to make his numbers look worse, but Atlanta ended up with nearly 350 yards and 25 points, and this was before Patterson was the focal point of the offense.
The Bucs defensively are elite against the run but susceptible to short passing. Just look at how Dallas, Washington and New Orleans attacked them this season. Tampa is 25th in passing success rate allowed, and teams can dink and dunk their way down the field. Atlanta had a 70% passing rate in the Week 2 matchup, and I believe we can expect that — or higher — this weekend.
It is worth mentioning that Tampa Bay’s secondary is getting a big boost this weekend with Carlton Davis back. Jamel Dean should be healthy as well, making this Buccaneers cornerback unit the healthiest it’s been since Week 1. That being said, Tampa can’t catch a break injury-wise, as starting safety Jordan Whitehead has been ruled out, and backup Mike Edwards was suspended for three games. This leaves the Bucs fairly shorthanded at safety in a game where Atlanta will be throwing a ton.
In the longterm, Davis’ return to action is a big boost to Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl aspirations. This defense has underperformed this season, a large part of which is due to the cluster of injuries at corner. We may not see the full improvement this weekend against the Falcons with the safety re-shuffling, but this unit should continue to trend upwards toward the playoffs.
Bucs vs. Falcons Predictions, Picks
These teams combined for 73 points in Week 2, and while there were two late pick-sixes to push the total high, it was a 28-25 game at the start of the fourth quarter. The Buccaneers offense got whatever it wanted, and Matt Ryan was able to use short, efficient passing to move the ball against the Tampa secondary.
Will we see a repeat this weekend? The Buccaneers are scoring 31.5 points per game, and with a dominant passing and rushing attack, this team should be able to name its score against a fairly hapless Atlanta defense. Even in a game state where the Bucs are comfortably ahead, their offensive line should pave some nice holes for Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones against a bottom-five run defense.
Can Matt Ryan answer? He did in Week 2, and with Cordarrelle Patterson back in the mix, this offense should be able to have some success moving the ball. Atlanta will likely throw the ball on 70% of snaps or more, either stopping the clock or moving the ball down the field.
And if Atlanta has a lead, Tampa Bay will certainly be able to put points on the board in a comeback effort given the Falcons’ inability to run the ball.
In the end, all game states point toward an over. The Bucs offense is a juggernaut, while Atlanta may have more firepower than the market suggests. A total of 50.5 is widely available at time of writing, and there’s some value here in backing points at that price.
Pick: Over 50.5 | Bet to: 50.5
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