The Atlanta Falcons followed up their impressive opening week win against the New Orleans Saints with a two-touchdown loss on the road. Just four days after their recent defeat, the Falcons will be on the field as one of the biggest favorites in Week 3.
Atlanta starts off the Week 3 schedule on “Thursday Night Football” with a divisional matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the Falcons enter the contest at 1-1, the Buccaneers are still searching for their first win of the 2014 season. Both teams tied for last place in 2013 with 4-12 records.
Through two games, quarterback Matt Ryan leads the NFL’s top passing offense and the No.2 total offense, in terms of yardage. Ryan has thrown for 679 yards, 204 of which have gone to team-leading wide receiver Julio Jones.
Despite all the yardage Atlanta has totaled, the team only ranks 11th in total points. The Falcons scored just 10 points in their Week 2 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, plagued by three interceptions from Ryan.
While the Falcons have their issues, they’ve had a better start to the year than the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay is one of seven winless NFL teams, as they sit at the bottom of the NFC South for a fourth straight season.
Tampa Bay did have a chance to win both of their games, but both contests concluded as time ran out and the Buccaneers had the ball down by one score. While they’ve only lost by a combined eight points, the Bucs missed opportunities to beat two backup quarterbacks. In Week 1, they allowed Derek Anderson to register a 108.7 passer rating as Cam Newton’s replacement, followed by a loss to the St. Louis Rams and Austin Davis, who was the team’s No.3 quarterback in preseason.
Career backup Josh McCown hasn’t done anything to improve the team’s passing game. With him at the helm, the Buccaneers rank second-to-last with 168.5 passing yards per game. McCown was named the starter in preseason, replacing Mike Glennon, who threw 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a rookie last year.
The Buccaneers were without one of their best players on Sunday, as Doug Martin was forced to miss the game with a knee injury. However, Bobby Rainey filled in more than admirably with 144 rushing yards on 22 carries. It’s unknown if Martin will be ready to go on Thursday, but he did practice with the team on Tuesday.
The Falcons have gotten the better of their division rival since 2008, winning eight of 12 matchups. Tampa Bay has been in most of those defeats, losing by more than one score just twice. The Buccaneers are 1-5 in their six last games in Atlanta.
Only three teams in Week 3 have been given worse betting odds than Tampa Bay. The point spread at most Las Vegas casinos has the Buccaneers getting 6.5 points on the road. The over/under comes in at 44.5 points.
Prediction: They only scored 10 points on Sunday, but the Falcons have one of the most explosive offenses in the league. With Jones and Roddy White at receiver, Ryan and the rest of the Atlanta offense are poised to have a big day when they return home. Ryan committed three turnovers against a strong Cincinnati defense, but that shouldn’t be the case against Tampa Bay, who hasn’t had an interception in their last five games. The Falcons were burned by a few big plays against the Bengals, but the Buccaneers don’t have that kind of firepower, and Tampa Bay could be in for a long night.
Predicted Score: Atlanta 30, Tampa Bay 16