Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) at Atlanta Falcons (6-1)
The Falcons aren’t quite as good as their 6-1 record, as evidenced by their recent road loss in New Orleans and mere 3 point victory in Tennessee against a Titans team that was playing without Marcus Mariota. However, they still rank 7th in rate of moving the chains differential, as opposed to 31st for the Buccaneers. Given that, this line seems too low at -7 and I think we’re getting a good amount of line value with the Falcons, now back at home.
On top of that, the Falcons are beneficiaries of a significant week-to-week line movement. This line was 9 a week ago, but now it’s down to a touchdown, likely a result of the Buccaneers’ near win in Washington and the Falcons’ near loss in Tennessee. I love fading significant line movements like that because they tend to be overreactions to one week of play and I think that’s true here. The Buccaneers are one of the worst teams in the league and should not be underdogs of any less than 10 in this one.
The Falcons are also in a better spot, with an easy road game in San Francisco on deck, a game in which the Falcons are expected to be favored by 4 points. Teams are 106-80 ATS since 2012 before being 3+ point road favorites, 68-48 ATS before being 4+ point road favorites, and 42-28 ATS before being 6+ point road favorites. If the Falcons were to end up being 6+ point road favorites in San Francisco (as they were in Tennessee, against a Titans team that’s better than the 49ers), that would open up another trend as favorites of 6+ are 77-38 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6+ again. Even if that line doesn’t end up moving past 6, this logic still holds. Good teams tend to take care of business and win big with no upcoming distractions on the horizon. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, host the Giants, a game in which they’re expected to be underdogs of a couple points at home.
It does help the Buccaneers that they’re in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 120-86 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 98-59 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 204-212 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.51 points per game, as opposed to 296-411 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 2.94 points per game.
However, as long as this line doesn’t go above a touchdown, I’m still confident putting money on the Falcons. They’re the vastly better team. They have no upcoming distractions. They also have the better injury situation. They are missing safety William Moore and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, but the Buccaneers will be without safety Major Wright, wide receiver Vincent Jackson, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. The reason this isn’t a higher confidence pick is because of all the public action on Atlanta and the fact that the Buccaneers are in their 2nd of two road games, but I’m still pretty confident in Atlanta. Tampa Bay isn’t very good and could get down big early.
Atlanta Falcons 31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17
Pick against the spread: Atlanta -7