Monday Night Football Predictions
Will The Falcons Take Hold Of Wildcard Spot?
The Falcons watched the Seattle Seahawks lose, opening a path for Atlanta to march right into the wildcard spot. This opportunity presented itself after a wild Thursday night win over the New Orleans Saints last week, when a loss would've all but eliminated them from the hunt. Instead, the Falcons control their own destiny for the last playoff perch.
Tampa Bay was supposed to be improved this season, but they spun out of relevancy with a five-game losing streak that plunged their record to 2-6 after week nine. At this point, Tampa would simply improve their standing in the draft by tanking for the rest of the year.
- Game: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Pick: Falcons Beat -7.0 Spread, Over 48.5
- NFL Odds Courtesy of Sports Interaction
Falcons at Buccaneers - Vital Trends
Atlanta Woke Up In Week 10
The Falcons experienced the worst stretch this season against the AFC East, losing three in a row to the Bills, Dolphins and Patriots. After losing to Carolina in week nine, Atlanta locked in to win four of their next five, including crucial wins against the Saints, Seahawks and Cowboys. Atlanta ran into an overwhelming Vikings defense in week 13, their sole loss last month. In contrast, Tampa’s lost three in a row during a disappointing 2017. Falcons still play for the post season, which will motivate Atlanta.
Falcons Rapid Defensive improvement
During the second half of the season, the Falcons defense improved. Atlanta’s held opponents to 17.6 PPG during their last five. Their secondary limits passing yards to seventh lowest in the NFL, despite being second last in the league for interceptions. Over the last three, Atlanta averages a mere 83 yards per game allowed on the ground. The Falcons have a middle-of-the-road offense this year, which makes their defensive growth crucial to their playoff aspirations.
Matt Ryan Breaks Slump Against Bucs
There’s no doubt that Matt Ryan’s had a tough year after winning MVP in 2016. He’s had to adjust to a new offensive coordinator, which clearly made it more difficult to achieve the same consistency. Over his past two games, Matt’s thrown three interceptions and a single TD, completing just above 55% of his passes. The last time Ryan played well was against the Bucs, when he threw 317 yards and a touchdown during the Falcons 34-20 win in week 12. Playing against Tampa again will help boost his productivity.
Bucs Defense Fell Apart
After a pair of crucial wins against the Jets and Dolphins, Tampa Bay had the opportunity to ride a streak back into contention. Instead, the Buccaneers entered their second long losing streak of the season, removing them from relevancy for the rest of the year. One of the reasons was the defense, which allowed an average of 28 points per game over their recent three-game slide. The Falcons earned 516 totals yards, the Packers rushed for 199 yards, then the Lions threw for 381 yards, showing a late-season collapse.
Tampa Bay’s Turnover Machine
Detroit gave up three turnovers last week and still beat the Bucs because Tampa gave it away five times. Winston had a nightmare game with a pair of interceptions and a fumble, one turnover more than Stafford’s pair of INTs. This allowed Detroit to stay in the playoff hunt by kicking a 46-yard field goal with twenty seconds left on the clock. There’s zero chance of the Bucs winning if they give the ball away more than their opponent.
NFL X-Factors On Monday
The Falcons and the Buccaneers have split their last ten meetings, but Atlanta has won their last two meetings by a margin of 14.5 points, indicating a strong advantage over Tampa Bay. As the game gets closer to the opening whistle, the spread has grown from six to seven on behalf of Atlanta, indicating that the Falcons have been backed by the money.
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