Free NFL Pick: Atlanta at Tampa Bay 12-05-2010

December 5, 2010

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Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday December 5th, 2010 4:15 PM EST

Line: Atlanta -3

Overview:

The 9-2 Atlanta Falcons have the best record in the league. They are on a five game win streak and sit atop the NFC South. The NFC South is much more competitive than originally anticipated, as not only are the Saints and Falcons involved in the race, the 7-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers simply won’t go away.

In their last meeting, the Falcons came away with a six point victory. The Bucs will look to close in on the Falcons with a home victory. While it is quite possible two teams could go to the playoffs from the NFC South, the Bucs need to start adding victories, starting with this week.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Bucs need to have an answer for Roddy White. In his last game against the Bucs, White had his worst performance of the season of the season, hauling in only four passes for 49 yards. White has already passed the 1,000 yard mark for receiving yards this season. He is a staple in the Falcons offense and while the strength of the Bucs lies within their pass defense, the Falcons still need to establish a solid passing attack.
  • Josh Freeman put together a poor performance last week against the Ravens, which can’t be held against him given the productivity of the Baltimore defense. Freeman has had a breakout year this season and will look to redeem himself after tossing two interceptions the last time he faced the Falcons. Freeman has his best games when he is able to move around and extend broken plays. The Falcons do a solid job of keeping everything contained and in front of them.
  • Michael Turner has six 100 yard rushing days this season. The Bucs are soft against the run, as they showcased when they allowed Turner to break for 107 yards and two touchdowns in their last outing. Turner has to be the focus for Tampa Bay. Roddy White always has to be accounted for, but if the Bucs allow Turner to get rolling, the Falcons will methodically destroy their defense.
  • LeGarrette Blount’s production has been all over the place. It is unclear whether he will be able to break loose against the Falcons, but in every game he has rushed for over 72 yards, the Bucs have come away with a win. Blount faces an uphill battle this week against the underrated Falcons defense, but the Bucs can’t give up on the run game should they see resistance in the beginning of the game.

Key Matchup:

Matt Ryan Vs. Tampa’s Zone

  • Tampa Bay is without legend Monte Kiffin. Until recently, nobody had less sacks than the Buccaneers. They have started to be more aggressive with their linebackers, which has accounted for the recent influx in pressure. The Bucs are most vulnerable to underneath routes. The Falcons have the offense that can nickle and dime Tampa Bay to death.
  • Matt Ryan does an excellent job at taking what the defense gives him. Ryan plays safe effective football. If the Bucs start to get on their heals, it should be fairly easy for Ryan to find openings in the coverage.

Wrap Up:

The Atlanta Falcons are one of the best teams in the league. While the Bucs have shown they can contend, they still have yet to beat a team with a winning record. The Bucs were blown out at home in their only two home games against winning teams. While I don’t think this will be a multiple score blowout, I don’t think three points does the Falcons justice. I like the Falcons by 5.

Free NFL Pick: Atlanta -3


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