Free Pick 9-11-16 Tampa Bay Bucs at Atlanta Falcons
September 10, 2016
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Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
The final season at the Georgia Dome kicks off Sunday, when the Atlanta Falcons host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFC South clash. It’s a matchup of one quarterback on the rise in second-year Tampa Bay star Jameis Winston and one trying to regain his top form in Atlanta’s Matt Ryan.
Dirk Koetter makes his debut as Tampa Bay’s coach, and his success working with Winston as the offensive coordinator last year has prompted high hopes for the quarterback’s second pro season. Koetter was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator from 2012-14 under Mike Smith, who is now the Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator. Tampa Bay swept the season series for the first time since 2007 last year, winning 23-20 in overtime at Atlanta and 23-19 at home. The Buccaneers have won three of the last five meetings to take a 23-22 lead in the all-time series.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Atlanta -2.5. O/U: 47.5
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (2015: 6-10, fourth place in NFC South): Winston became the third rookie in NFL history to pass for more than 4,000 yards, building a strong rapport with receiver Mike Evans (74 catches, 1,206 yards in 2015). The Buccaneers hope to improve the passing game to complement a ground attack that ranked fifth in the league with Doug Martin (1,402 yards, six TDs) leading the way. The Bucs ranked 10th in total defense last year but 26th in scoring defense, in large part because they allowed opponents to come away with touchdowns on 64.3 percent of trips inside the 20.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (2015: 8-8, second place in NFC South): Ryan passed for 4,591 yards a year ago – his fifth straight season going over 4,000 – but also threw 16 interceptions as the Falcons finished minus-7 in turnover margin. Two of the Falcons’ top offensive weapons are back in running back Devonta Freeman (1,056 rushing yards, 11 TDs) and receiver Julio Jones (136 catches, 1,871 yards, eight TDs), and Atlanta added receiver Mohamed Sanu from Cincinnati. The addition of defensive end Dwight Freeney should improve the pass rush and contribute to a respectable defense that returns leading tackler Paul Worrilow and sack leader Vic Beasley Jr.
1. Jones has recorded at least five receptions and 50 receiving yards in 12 consecutive games.
2. Tampa Bay has totaled at least 375 yards in three straight contests, one shy of tying the franchise record set in 2012, and has matched the franchise mark of three straight games with at least 275 passing yards.
3. Martin has recorded 100 yards rushing just once in five meetings with the Falcons and averaged 83 in two clashes last season.
STATS AND RECORDS
|12/6/15||ATL 19||TB 23||388||166||222||319||64||255|
|Tampa Bay||J. Winston||66.7||227||1||1|
|Tampa Bay||D. Martin||25||95||3.8||1|
|Tampa Bay||V. Jackson||3||87||29.0||0|
|Tampa Bay||M. Evans||1|
PREDICTION: Buccaneers 23 Falcons 20,