Falcons vs. Buccaneers Odds, Pick, Prediction: NFL Week 18
Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady.
- The Falcons are four-point favorites in Week 18 over the Buccaneers.
- It's uncertain how long Tampa Bay's starters will play this game, with its playoff seed set in stone.
- Cody Goggin breaks down the scenario and makes his Falcons vs. Buccaneers pick below.
Despite wrapping up the NFC South title last weekend, Todd Bowles is expected to play his starters, including Tom Brady, in Tampa Bay’s season finale.
So, how does that affect the Falcons vs. Buccaneers odds?
The seeding is set for Tampa Bay so it doesn't need to risk any injury to its starters, but it seems as if they are taking an approach that will keep them from getting rusty over the next week rather than sitting out.
Atlanta has been eliminated from playoff contention, but that hasn’t stopped the Falcons from playing tough. They put up a fight against the Ravens a couple of weekends ago, and they beat Arizona last weekend on a last-second field goal. In both of these games, Desmond Ridder has looked green at some points, although there have also been some bright spots.
The line in this game currently seems to reflect that the market believes the Bucs starters, or at least Brady, will be sidelined since Atlanta is a four-point favorite to the division champions.
Whether you think this line is correct or not lies in how much you believe the words of Bucs head coach Todd Bowles.
Falcons vs. Buccaneers Odds
Falcons vs. Buccaneers Matchup Analysis
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Falcons vs. Buccaneers DVOA Breakdown
Personally, I don’t think that Bowles is lying about his intentions. There is always the chance that someone in the front office makes him reconsider this decision or that he benches his starters earlier in the game, but I still think that the typical Buccaneers roster will be rolled out to begin Sunday’s game.
With that being said, this line would indicate that I’m wrong. Not that I think I know more than the oddsmakers here, but I tend to lean toward Tampa Bay even with its backups. While Ridder looked serviceable last weekend as he led Atlanta to victory, the Falcons barely beat a depleted Arizona team that was trotting out fourth-stringer David Blough at QB.
Atlanta’s defense has been putrid this year, ranking 30th in EPA per play allowed and 32nd in success rate allowed. The Falcons have the worst success rate in the league against the run and are 30th against the pass. EPA is not much kinder as they are 25th in EPA per rush and 30th in EPA per dropback.
Looking to PFF grades, Atlanta ranks 29th in coverage grade and 31st in pass rush grade. If you’re playing a backup quarterback, this would be a great situation to do it in.
Bet Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta at FanDuel
The story all season with Tampa Bay has been how much its offense has struggled. The Bucs have been banged up on the offensive line, and Tom Brady just hasn’t looked like he did in his first two seasons with the team.
Tampa Bay ranks 20th in EPA per play and 18th in success rate this season. Over the last few weeks, the Bucs have been trending in the right direction, though. Since Week 15, they rank 15h in EPA per play and 10th in EPA per dropback. Brady has been playing his best stretch of football all season just in time for another playoff run.
While Ridder hasn’t been terrible, he hasn’t necessarily been good. Among the 48 quarterbacks with over 100 dropbacks this year, Ridder ranks 40th in EPA per play at -0.062. This is a small sample size and one of those games was against a tough Ravens defense, but the film shows that Ridder still has room to improve.
Tampa Bay’s defense has kept it alive for much of the year. The Buccaneers rank eighth in EPA per play allowed and success rate allowed. They are well-rounded, ranking 12th in both EPA per dropback and EPA per rush. Tampa Bay is also an impressive eighth in success rate against the run this year.
The Buccaneers will be without some important players this weekend. Donovan Smith is the only offensive starter who's currently out for Tampa Bay this weekend. On the defensive side, though, Vita Vea, Carlton Davis and Logan Ryan have already been ruled out. Lavonte David and Akiem Hicks both didn’t practice on Friday due to rest so it’s unknown if they will suit up on Sunday.
Without those key players, that definitely makes things easier on Ridder and Atlanta’s offense.
There’s a possibility this doesn’t work out, but if you have the chance to bet Brady as a four-point underdog against a non-playoff team, you gotta do it. We will know much more closer to game time, but the odds will react to that news, as well, so it’s best to grab this now.
If Brady doesn’t play, there’s still a chance that whoever is under center for Tampa Bay can hang with Ridder. In that case, I would take Tampa Bay at anything under a touchdown.
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