Atlanta Falcons (6-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)
The Falcons started the season a surprising 5-0, but have since fallen back to earth, losing 5 of 6, putting them in a fight to even make the playoffs. Considering 3 of those 5 wins were by a touchdown or less and the best team they beat was probably the Giants (a 24-20 win), that’s not too much of a surprise, but the fact remains that they’ve lost to New Orleans, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Indianapolis, and Minnesota, all teams they were favored against. Their only win in their last 5 games was by 3 in Tennessee, when the Titans were playing without starting quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Falcons have lost 7 straight games against the spread, making them just the 30th team since 1989 to do that.
That seems to have caused the odds makers to knock them down, to the point where they might be underrated now. Teams are 15-8 ATS since 1989 as underdogs off of 7+ straight against the spread losses. I know it’s a sample size, but, again this doesn’t happen very often and it makes sense that teams in this spot would cover at a higher rate. The Falcons rank 8th in rate of moving the chains differential, while the Buccaneers rank 23rd (and are missing defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, arguably their best player) and yet the Buccaneers just 2 point favorites at home, after being favored by 1.5 at home last week. I love to fade significant week-to-week line movements because they tend to be overreactions to a single week of play, so the Falcons look like a good pick in this one.
The Falcons are also in a great spot. They lost to the Buccaneers earlier this year as home favorites in Baltimore, but teams are 54-30 ATS as divisional road underdogs in a regular season rematch against a divisional opponent they previously lost to as home favorites. Besides, the Buccaneers have had next to no homefield advantage in recent years so the location of this game doesn’t matter as much as a normal divisional matchup would. The Buccaneers are just 17-35 ATS at home since 2009. If we were getting a field goal with the Falcons, they’d be my Pick of the Week, and I’d still put money on them as 2 point underdogs. I’d take Atlanta up to field goal favorites.
Atlanta Falcons 27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 Upset Pick +110
Pick against the spread: Atlanta +2