Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-0)
When I saw this line was at 3 in favor of the home team Atlanta Falcons earlier this week, I immediately sided with the Buccaneers. It might not have been enough to put money on it, but a 3-point line suggests that these two teams are more or less even and I think the Buccaneers are a noticeable better team. The Falcons finished 2 games better than the Buccaneers last year, but Tampa Bay could take another step forward with a 2nd year quarterback under center, improvements on defense, likely bounce back years from top defensive players Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, and the return of a couple players from injury, including right tackle DeMar Dotson.
The Falcons, meanwhile, made a couple of improvements this off-season, but also made significant reaches in the first two rounds of the draft and completely overpaid free agent wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. They also had next to no injuries last season, finishing with the 2nd fewest adjusted games lost in the league. That won’t continue and they’re already missing first round pick Keanu Neal with a knee injury. They have solid offense overall, but still lack a competent 2nd receiving option and the defense is one of the worst in the league. Tampa Bay should be a little bit better this off-season. It seems like sharp bettors agreed, as the line has since shifted to 2.5. Now that we’re not getting a field goal, I don’t have any confidence in Tampa Bay, but they should be the right side.
Atlanta Falcons 27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26
Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay +2.5