Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Betting Preview – NFL, Week 17, 2020

By Dean McHugh in NFL
| December 30, 2020 11:57 am PDT

Although the Falcons are already eliminated, and the Bucs have secured a playoff berth, there is still something to play for here. The Falcons are looking to avoid coming in at the bottom of the NFC, and the Bucs are looking to improve their position in the table to ensure a first round playoff game at home.

The Falcons are on a poor run of four losses in a row, which includes a narrow 31-27 defeat against the Bucs two weeks back. The Falcons led 17-0 at half time but failed to maintain that lead.

In comparison, the Bucs have won their last three in a row as they look to finish the season strong going into the playoffs.

The recent head to head record is close, with the Falcons edging the last five three to two. Oddly the Falcons have dominated the fixture in Tampa, winning the last four in a row.

Falcons vs. Buccaneers Odds

Falcons +6.5-110
Buccaneers -6.5-110
Falcons To Win+230
Buccaneers To Win-290
Over 50.5 Points-110
Under 50.5 Points-110

I would say that the spread looks about right here, but at first glance, the points total looks a little high. Let’s break the game down and see what we can find.

Falcons Analysis

Although the Falcons have lost their last four in a row, they can take heart from each performance as they have lost each time narrowly to good opposition. They went down by three against reigning Super Bowl champions the Chiefs last week, prior to that, they lost by four to Tampa, three to the Chargers, and five to the Saints before previously smashing the Raiders.

They have won two games away from home just as they have on home soil this year. They have lost their last three on the road, but again they have faced good opposition.

They have done very well against the spread on the road, recently winning eight of the last 11 away fixtures. However, they have only won three of the last nine on the road against Tampa.

Due to the nature of their close games recently, they have tended to be low-scoring affairs, with five of the last six going under the betting total. They have exactly the same record on the road in their last six games also. However, the last five games against Tampa Bay have gone over the betting total.

They are averaging 24 points scored and 24 points conceded per game, which is why they have been involved in so many close games this year.

Their stats are really contrasting between offense and defense as they don’t run the ball well, averaging just over 90 yards per game, but they defend well against teams that run the ball. They pass the ball well, averaging over 270 yards per game, which is impressive, but they don’t defend against passing teams well, conceding an average of 287 yards per game, which is the second-worst record in the league. This will be even more interesting considering you have Ryan going up against Brady, who rank fourth and fifth for passing yards this year. Ryan has relied on Calvin Ridley to help gain so many yards as he has posted over 100 receiving yards in over half of his games this year and is on target to complete a record-breaking season for the Falcons.

They have forced the joint second-highest amount of fumbles in the NFL this year behind the Ravens, who lead the count.

Buccaneers Analysis

The Bucs are finishing the season strong, having won their last three games in a row. They still have an outside chance of toppling the Saints and taking a home first-round fixture in the playoffs.

Oddly they have a much better record on the road this year as they have only won four of their seven home games. They stopped a run of three straight home defeats in a row with a 26-14 win against the Vikings last time out.

Against the spread, they have won four of their last six, but when you look at their home record, that win percentage drops considerably as they have only won four of the last 15 games at the Raymond James Stadium.

As well as not having a great record at home, their games have not been overly entertaining either as four of the last five have gone under the betting total. However, the last five games against the Falcons have all gone over the betting total.

Statistically, they have been very good this year, averaging 29 points and over 280 passing yards per game. They have the best defense against rushing sides in the league averaging just 77 yards conceded per game. Their defense has also posted the fifth-highest number of interceptions this season. However, as is the same as the Falcons, they aren’t the best at defending against passing teams and have the third-lowest amount of sacks made in the NFL. They are also allowing 69% of passes against them to be completed, which is the third-highest in the league. If they want to progress in the playoffs, this will surely need to improve.

They don’t appear to particularly run the ball well, having gained the fourth-lowest rushing yards in the league, but I think that’s more a case of opting not to rather than not executing it well.

Linebacker Devin White was the difference the last time the two sides met, and the Falcons will be hoping that he isn’t in the same kind of mood again. White has the joint third-highest amount of tackles in the NFL this year.

Falcons vs. Buccaneers Pick

Pick
  • Falcons +6.5
    -110

Although the Bucs do have some incentive to win this one, I think they may have one eye on the playoffs already, which could play into the Falcons hands. The Falcons only lost by four the last time the two teams met two weeks ago, and you have to go back to 2013 to find the last time they lost by more than 6 points in Tampa. Therefore I’m going to take the Falcons with the lead to win this one.

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