NFL Week 8: Pair Bet on Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons -7 (-110) u49.0 (-105)
November 1, 2015, 1:00pm EST
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
After losing to both the Texans and Panthers in weeks 4 and 5, the Buccaneers beat the Jaguars by a touchdown in a shootout at EverBank Field (in Jacksonville) in week 6, and lost a closely contested game in week 7 to the Redskins (a single point decided the outcome of that matchup).
Over about the same period, the Falcons offense, which started the season red-hot with Matt Ryan at the helm, seems to have lost their way. While Atlanta is 2-1 straight up over the last three weeks, the Falcons have dropped three in a row against the spread, and their average productivity (measure in points per game) has consistently fallen over this period.
Atlanta though will face Tampa Bay at home this afternoon, which we expect is the equivalent of a shot in the arm. In spite of their marginally improved play of late, Jacksonville is still a bottom of the barrel NFL franchise. FPI pits the Bucs dead last in the league, and while Elo Ratings are slightly more generous, this alternate measure still makes Tampa Bay the third-worst in the NFL.
Tampa Bay has especially been unable to stop opponents' passing game. This is reflected in the Buccaneers #29 pass defense ranking by DVOA and by the observation that to date, Tampa has yielded more points per game than any other NFL team.
Against the Buccaneers' porous pass defense, we expect Matty Ice to conjure up the version of the Falcons offense that authored beautiful come from behind rallies that knocked off the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins. Atlanta is the sixth best team at home, per TeamRankings, which, of itself, should translate to several points of advantage for the Falcons.
We do not think that second half heroics will be necessary this afternoon though, as the Bucs have been less than prolific against average (or better) defenses. To wit, the Titans recent barn-burner outings materialized against Washington, whose defense ranks #19 by DVOA, and the Jaguars, who are 18th. Atlanta ranks 15th defending the pass and 14th versus the run, so the Falcons should pose a more stout defense than Tampa Bay's recent competition (if only slightly so).
All but one factor in our stable anticipate the Falcons will beat the number. Our power rankings composite hints at 1-3 points of value to Falcons backers, while the two (out of three) simulation/computer prediction models in our lineup that agree with this perspectivehint at about 2 points of margin for Atlanta's cover. The dissenting view call for a Falcons win by only 4.
Additionally, our work forecasts that a determined Atlanta defensive unit will curb the Bucs' efforts to post points on the board. We see a final in the ballpark of 19-27, Falcons, which likewise supports the UNDER.
The Falcons are 4-2-1 ATS since 2012 against Tampa Bay, including a 3-1 showing at home. The OVER is 5-3 overall, and 3-1 at the Georgia Dome during the same period.