Week 3 of the 2014 NFL season begins with “Thursday Night Football” between two teams that are looking to rebound from a last-place finish a year ago. The Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off for the first time this year, after tying at the bottom of the NFC South in 2013.
For a second straight game, Tampa Bay is expected to be without its starting running back. Doug Martin is unlikely to play, according to multiple reports. He’ll be replaced by Bobby Rainey, who ran 22 times for 6.5 yards per carry on Sunday.
The Falcons are dealing with injuries to their top two playmakers, though it’s looking like both will be on the field. Wide receiver Julio Jones is listed as “probable” on the injury report, but he’ll be good to go. Roddy White’s status is more uncertain, considering he hasn’t practiced this week with a hamstring injury. Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com says White is almost certain to play.
Jones and White are part of the NFL’s best passing offense through two weeks. In addition to the top two receivers, Harry Douglas and Devin Hester both have over 100 yards receiving. Hester will be going up against former head coach Lovie Smith, whom he played under for seven seasons with the Chicago Bears.
Smith is looking to get his first win with the Buccaneers. The team is 0-2, after being picked by some experts to surprise in the NFC South. They were favored in their first two games, but are getting a touchdown, according to Thursday’s betting odds.
If the Week 3 matchup is anything like the previous Thursday night games, Atlanta will win in a largely uncompetitive contest. In the opener, the Seattle Seahawks won by 20 points at home. Seven days later, the Baltimore Ravens did the same.
It’s the first of two Falcons games that are scheduled for primetime in 2014. After the Buccaneers play in front of a national audience in Atlanta, the rest of their games will begin at 1 p.m. ET.
Start Time: 8:25 p.m. ET
Point Spread: Falcons by six points
Over/Under: 46 points
TV Channel: CBS and NFL Network will have a simulcast
Live Online Stream: A live online stream is available at NFL Network here
Prediction: Atlanta 30, Tampa Bay 16