Free NFL Picks: Tampa Bay at Atlanta 11-07-2010

November 3, 2010

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

Sunday November 7th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Atlanta -8

Overview:

The Buccaneers could easily be the surprise of the season so far. At 5-2, they have already exceeded their projected wins on many preseason prediction polls. They travel into Atlanta, where the 5-2 Falcons have been able to hold off each of their three opponents at home this season. The Falcons are considered to be the best team in the NFC in some circles, though Raheem Morris boasts his team holds that title. This will be a very telling match up, as the Bucs have been dominated in both road games against winning teams this year.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Buccaneers might have squeaked away with a win last week, but there is no way they will be able to win the way they did last week in their match up against Atlanta. The Bucs made a mockery of quarterbacks Max Hall and Derek Anderson last week, picking off the ball four times and running two back for touchdowns. Despite having two touchdowns on turnovers, they still only managed to beat a struggling Cardinals team by three. This week, they take on Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Ryan is miles ahead of where any quarterback on Arizona’s roster is. He has thrown 12 touchdowns and five interceptions, so the Bucs shouldn’t expect to get the same production out of their defensive backs as they did last week.
  • Roddy White is the most dominant receiver in the NFL this year. While Brandon Lloyd has more yards than White, White has more catches. Lloyd has had a great year and made big plays in a pass happy offense, but White’s year has been unparalleled. White has been targeted 82 catches. Teams know he is going to get the ball, yet he has been unstoppable all season long. White has broken for at least 100 yards four times this season already. three of those outings came at home and last week he posted 11 catches for 201 yards against the Bengals. The Bucs know White is going to get the ball early and often, but they don’t have the personnel to compete with him. While Rhonde Barber is a wily vet, there is no way he can compete physically with White. Expect another 100 yard day while White takes Aqib Talib and Co. down a notch after their stellar games on defense last week.
  • Lagarrette Blount is coming into his own. Blount had his best game of his career two weeks ago, when he racked up 72 yards on eleven carries. The Tampa Bay coaching staff obviously liked what they saw, feeding him 22 carries on his 120 yard performance. Blount is a huge back, who packs a punch with every run (no pun intended). He finishes runs and fights for every yard, something Tampa Bay hasn’t seen consistently enough from injury prone Cadillac Williams. While Williams is a hard runner, his production has been questionable. If Blount can continue to progress, he will become the feature back in the offense.
  • Donald Penn is going to have his hands full. The Atlanta Falcons are a middle of the road team at rushing the passer, but John Abraham is as good as they come at defensive end, already accounting for six sacks this season. If pressure is going to come against rookie Josh Freeman, it will likely come from Abraham. Donald Penn is having a solid year, especially on run blocking assignments.Aside from his outing in Pittsburgh, Penn hasn’t seen a challenge like this all season long. The winner of this battle will determine the type of night Josh Freeman has. If Penn struggles, Williams might see more time, as Blount is inexperienced in picking up blitzes.
  • Freeman is making great strides. The Bucs have to like what they see from the former first round selection. Freeman has shown off his huge arm, mobility, and ability to throw on the run all season long. He has thrown eight touchdowns and three interceptions, but what is most impressive is his ability to come from behind in the final minutes of the game. His mobility has allowed him to pick up yards on the ground when he needs to, but unlike many mobile quarterbacks, he looks to pass first. Being able to get outside the pocket and go through his progressions has made the Tampa Bay offense more versatile. Freeman is accurate on the run and has huge potential. The Buccaneers look like they might have scored on their reach for the Kansas State prospect in the first round.
  • Michael Turner has had a feast or famine year. He has amassed 100 yards on three occasions, which have elevated his statistics considerably. Fortunately for Turner, is going up against a Buccaneers defense who allows 149.4 yards on the ground a game, putting them at 30th in the entire league in total run defense. The Bucs added Gerald McCoy, who has been everything they expected him to be, but they are still soft up front. The Bucs could easily allow Turner to break loose, especially if their defense gets caught up in the Roddy White show.

Wrap Up:

While Tampa Bay has obviously impressed everyone, they have played a weak schedule thus far. They have played only two teams with winning records all season long. Coincidentally, they have lost each of the games against winning teams by 25 points a piece. The Falcons have a serious shot at blowing a team out this week. While they have only won at home by the given spread once this year, they are coming off a bye week. Tampa Bay is headed in the right direction, but the Falcons will want to make a statement against the Bucs, who are challenging them as not only the best team in the NFC South, but also the best team in the NFC.

Free NFL Pick: Atlanta -8


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