Tampa Bay at Atlanta Week 1 Odds & Expert Pick
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won only six games last year but they beat the Atlanta Falcons twice. The NFC South rivals face off at the Georgia Dome — it’s the final season the Falcons will play there before moving into a gleaming new stadium — to open the 2016 season. The Falcons are 3-point favorites on NFL odds.
Closer Look at the Bucs at Falcons Week 1 Odds, Expert Pick & TV Info
When: Sunday, Sept. 11, 1 PM ET
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Radio: Tampa Bay / Atlanta
Opening NFL Lines: Falcons -3 (47.5)
Tampa Bay vs Atlanta Historic Betting Odds
Tampa Bay won the first meeting in 2015, 23-20 in overtime in Atlanta. Taking advantage of four turnovers, Tampa Bay jumped to a 17-point edge on the Falcons before winning in overtime when Connor Barth kicked a 31-yard field goal and the defense stuffed the final drive. Matt Ryan had tied the game for the Falcons on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones with 17 seconds left in regulation.
After the field goal, Atlanta’s offense got a chance in overtime but didn’t even make it to midfield. In Week 13 in Tampa, the Bucs won 23-19 — their final win of the season. Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston made an improbable third-and- 19 scramble for a first down on the decisive drive, and later found Mike Evans for a 6-yard touchdown pass to lift Tampa Bay to a victory. Lavonte David sealed the win for the Bucs, intercepting Ryan's pass intended for Jones on the first play of Atlanta’s final possession.
Why Bet on Tampa
This will be the NFL head coaching debut of Tampa Bay’s Dirk Koetter. The Bucs fired head coach Lovie Smith after last season in a surprise and promoted Koetter from offensive coordinator. Koetter also interviewed with the San Francisco 49ers to replace the fired Jim Tomsula. The Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles also requested permission from the Bucs to interview Koetter for their top vacancies.
The Bucs were so happy with the job Koetter did with Winston that they dumped Smith. Winston threw for 4,042 yards and 22 touchdowns with 15 interceptions in 2015, making him just the third rookie quarterback to surpass 4,000 yards. The other two were Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. Despite having a rookie quarterback, the Bucs’; offense ranked fifth overall — fifth in rushing, led by Doug Martin’s 1,402-yard season, and 17th in passing.
Why Bet on Atlanta
The Falcons want to reduce running back Devonta Freeman's workload this year, and want Freeman and Tevin Coleman “competing” Freeman touched the ball 337 times last season, and seemed to run out of gas down the stretch.
“It’s about growth,” RBs coach Bobby Turner said. “Free had a good year, but I’m expecting even a better year. … It can be even better with less carries or less catches because I’d obviously like to get Tevin more involved and that also keeps Free fresher.”
But the star of the offense is clearly Jones. He had the second-highest single-season receiving yardage total in NFL history last season, compiling 1,871 yards. The NFL record is 1,964 by the now-retired Calvin Johnson. Going into 2016, the additions of Mohamed Sanu and rookie tight end Austin Hooper, along with the growth of second-year receiver Justin Hardy, could create more one-on- one matchups for Jones. His career reception total, 414, is now the most-ever by a WR in his first 65 NFL contests — 24 more than anyone else.
My Expert Pick
Take Atlanta at home on NFL lines.