Thursday Night Football Odds – Bucs vs. Falcons

Thursday Night Football Odds - Bucs vs. Falcons

Thursday Night Football Odds – Bucs vs. Falcons

After an exciting and roller coaster of a second week of NFL betting, in which I didn’t expect Chicago (on Sunday night vs the 49ers) or Philadelphia (Monday night vs the Colts) to win either game, its time to look forward to Thursday Night Football on CBS.

The Thursday Night Football odds have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) as 7 point favorites Vs. the Atlanta Falcons (1-1).

The Atlanta Falcons feature an explosive offense led by Matt Ryan at quarterback, along with his talented wide receivers, Julio Jones and Roddy White. The Falcons fell flat a bit after a thrilling victory over the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-10 on the road.

As for the Buccaneers, they still can’t seem to get their offense going, failing to score more than 17 points in either of their first two games. They are in their first year with former Chicago Bears coach, Lovie Smith, at the helm. Smith is regarded as a defensive zen master after his tenure in Chicago. However, with a sustained running game the Bucs can’t get a foot hold on the scoreboard.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
When: Thursday, Sept. 18 at 8:25 PM ET
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Spread: Atlanta -6.5
Total: 45

The Buccaneers have lost two straight heartbreakers to start the season, mostly because they’re struggling like crazy to score the ball.

The Bucs kicked off the 2014 season with a narrow 20-14 home loss to Carolina and followed that up with an even more crushing 19-17 loss to lowly St. Louis in Week 2 while failing to cover the spread as a 4.5-point home favorite to fall to 0-2 ATS on the season.

Tampa Bay is averaging a paltry 15.5 points per game to negate the impressive defense they’ve played in allowing just 19.5 points per game defensively. Veteran quarterback Josh McCown is completing 67.9 percent of his pass attempts so far, but the signal-caller has struggled in throwing two touchdown passes against three interceptions.

Ironically, the Bucs have gotten some stellar rushing out of fifth-year running back Bobby Rainey (who started week 2 after an injury to Doug Martin) with the young gun rushing for 156 yards on 26 carries with two scores in two games.

Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith said his team needs to continue moving forward and staying confident.

"We’re zero-and-two," said Smith after Sunday’s game. "We don’t have a whole lot of time to feel sorry for ourselves with Atlanta coming up quickly."

The Bucs are battling injuries, but Smith said there’s no time for his young Bucs squad to focus on things they can’t control.

“We can’t use it [as an excuse]," Smith said. "Everybody has injuries right now. Even with all of that, we had our opportunities on those earlier things that I talked about before. That’s what we can’t do. Until we clean those things up and not make those major mistakes, we’re not going to win many games.”

The Falcons got an exciting victory in Week 1 by beating New Orleans 37-34 in overtime to cash in as a 3-point home dog, but they couldn’t build on that victory in Week 2 as they got thoroughly dominated in their 24-10 loss to Cincinnati while never coming close to covering the spread as a 5.5-point road dog.

Atlanta got man-handled in their loss to the Bengals as veteran quarterback Matt Ryan got limited to 24 of 4 passing with one touchdown and three interceptions while facing constant pressure from Cincy’s overpowering defense.

Ryan was sacked only once, but he was hit (and hit hard) five times, including one questionable (cheap) shot from defensive end Carlos Dunlap.

 "We’ve got to not put Matt in that position where a player can do that,’’ said left guard Justin Blalock. “We have to protect him.’’ 

In addition to their offensive struggles, the Falcons are also ranked 32 in total defense, including 31st against the pass and 26th against the run.

Despite their struggles, I still like Atlanta to get the much-needed victory in this NFC South divisional battle.

Not only are the Falcons playing at home in this contest, but the Falcons are also ranked first in the league in total offense, including second in passing, 20th in rushing and 11th in scoring (23.5 ppg).

Tampa Bay is just 1-5 SU in its last six road games against the Falcons and an uninspiring 2-6 ATS in its last eight road games.

While the Falcons have gone just 2-5 ATS in their last seven home games against Tampa Bay, Atlanta is also 16-7 SU in its last 23 home games and 8-3 SU in its last 11 games against the Buccaneers. I like the Falcons to win and narrowly cover the spread.

My NFL Thrusday Night Football Free Pick: Atlanta Falcons -6.5 Points

NFL Thursday Night Football On CBS – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are 6.5 point favorites at home when hosting the Buccaneers of Tampa Bay on Thursday Night Football.
Starts: 09/18/2014 20:25PM
Georgia Dome