As everyone totally predicted, the Falcons and Bucs square off this weekend to determine the current division leader. Many anticipated the Bucs controlling this division in what’s likely Tom Brady’s last hurrah, while expecting the Falcons to rebuild with Marcus Mariota serving as a bridge QB, yet both teams are 2-2. So let’s take a look at the current depth charts, matchups, and injuries to predict who will win this classic Brady-Mariota contest.
Atlanta Falcons Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Betting Odds
The Buccaneers (-8) are favored to beat the Falcons (+8) by slightly more than a touchdown. The over/under is set at a high 48.5, likely due to the Bucs giving up 41 points last week and the Falcons having a bottom defense in the league.
Atlanta Falcons Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Prediction
The Falcons offense has pleasantly surprised with Marcus Mariota at the helm after the departure of longtime QB Matt Ryan this past offseason. The team has built a young core with WRs Drake London, Olamide Zaccheaus, and TE Kyle Pitts. Both London and Pitts are physical specimens and mismatches who can out jump almost any defender while Zaccheaus and running back/receiver hybrid Cordarelle Patterson are speedy players who pickup yardage after the catch. These playmakers have helped the Falcons overachieve with a top 10 scoring offense.
On the other end, the Bucs performance has been an unpleasant surprise. What is supposed to be a high powered offense led by the GOAT in Brady, has instead been plagued with injuries, a poor run game, and a leaky offensive line. With a 45 year old quarterback, the Bucs need a strong offensive line to give Brady more time to throw than the average quarterback. The Bucs can’t even rely on their run game, which is 2nd worst in the league after putting up a putrid 3 combined rushing yards last Sunday versus the Chiefs. Without a successful running game and O-line, it will be hard for the Bucs to keep control and possession of the ball. The good news is they face a Falcons defense who is bottom 10 in passing, rushing, and scoring.
I’m picking the underdog Falcons not only to cover, but to win this game outright. The Falcons have lost a couple close games this season, but they have played more completely than the Bucs all season. Though the Bucs have home field “advantage,” they are 0-2 at home this season giving the Falcons a legit chance to pull off the upset.
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 27-23, Over hits
- Falcons are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall
- Buccaneers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. NFC South
Atlanta Falcons Injuries: Cordarrelle Patterson (O), Deion Jones (Q), Jalen Mayfield (Q),
Marlon Davidson (Q), Isaiah Oliver (Q),
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Injuries: Cameron Brate (Q), Carlton Davis (Q), Akiem Hicks (Q), Breshad Perriman (Q), Julio Jones (Q), Logan Ryan (Q)
Mike Evans/Chris Godwin vs A.J. Terrell
The Bucs have long had one of the best receiver duos in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Though Godwin has battled through some injuries, he remains a top weapon for the Brady and the Bucs. Evans has been a reliable target and is coming off of his best game of the season where he had 103 yards and 2 touchdowns, including this touchdown catch below.
Tom Brady ➡️ Mike Evans for Bucs first TD of the game
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 3, 2022
On the Falcons side, cornerback A.J. Terrell has emerged as the top defender for the Falcons. After garnering some criticism in the first two weeks for not covering top receivers, A.J. Terrell shut down both D.K. Metcalf and Amari Cooper in back to back weeks, including limiting Cooper to one reception for nine yards. He likely will go up against either Evans or Godwin this weekend, so expect a battle between Terrell and one of the top two Bucs receivers.
Falcons Run Offense vs Bucs Run Defense
Another factor in the Falcons offensive success is the success of their run game. This shouldn’t be a complete surprise given they are coached by Arthur Smith, who orchestrated Derrick Henry’s 2000 yard rushing season, but nevertheless they’ve made a giant leap forward. The Falcons have not only jumped from the 31st best run offense in 2021 to the 4th ranked run offense in 2022, but a diverse rushing attack featuring Cordarrelle Patterson, Tyler Allgeier, and Caleb Huntley. Though the Falcons placing Patterson on the IR will hurt, the emergence of Allgeier and Huntley versus the Browns last week should allow them to maintain their production. For the Bucs, their defense and particularly run defense has been one of the bright spots for the team. The Bucs have long been known for their run defense, and have not allowed an 100 yard rusher all season. Whichever team wins this matchup will play a key part in who controls the flow of the game.
"When you can run the ball when they know you're going to run it, that speaks volumes about your guys." -Arthur Smith pic.twitter.com/xoLRSmH3Dp
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 2, 2022