NFL OddsBetting Overview:

Has anyone even noticed that the Atlanta Falcons (5-2) are leading the NFC South over the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints (5-3)? Has anyone even noticed that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2) are in second place in the NFC South and also leading the New Orleans Saints? The Buccaneers have been feasting on weaker teams to this point, but they do hold a victory over the up and coming St. Louis Rams.

This divisional game is extremely important to the Falcons. If Atlanta is going to wrestle the torch away from the Saints and take over the NFC South, then they will have to win as many divisional games as possible. This game will help give the Falcons the upper hand in any tie-breaking situations at the end of this season, and that may come into play as the playoffs get closer.

Offense:

The Falcons are led by steady quarterback Matt Ryan. To this point, Ryan has 1,714 passing yards and 12 touchdowns. He had a rough start to the season, but with the help of veterans like receiver Roddy White and tight end Tony Gonzalez, Ryan has been able to turn the Atlanta offense back around. Running back Michael Turner has racked up 587 yards so far this season on his way to another 1,000+ yard season.

The Buccaneers are an interesting study because much of the NFL scores they put up to win games are done on special teams and not on offense. While the Bucs are exceeding any of the NFL predictions that came out in the preseason, they always look like they are living on borrowed time. They pulled out a win in week eight in the last minute against the Arizona Cardinals and, while the Bucs record is impressive, a quick look at who they beat to get the record instantly brings up questions about the quality of the Tampa Bay team.

Defense:

The Atlanta defense is getting better, but it still allows a lot of yards through the air. The Falcons pass defense is ranked 27th in the league allowing an average of 260 yards per game. However, the Atlanta run defense is ranked sixth in the league only allowing teams an average of 96 yards per game. The Buccaneers very limited running game will get shut down by the Falcons, and that will force Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman to take control and try to win the game for the Bucs.

The Buccaneers are 30th against the run allowing an average of 149 yards per year on the ground. This is a perfect invitation for Michael Turner to soften up the Tampa Bay defense on the ground, and then have Ryan attack the Bucs through the air. This could be a very long day for the Buccaneers defense.

The Bottom Line:

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been able to take advantage of the mistakes made by others so far this season, but the Falcons play disciplined football. With few mistakes to capitalize on, the Buccaneers may find themselves unable to compete against Atlanta.

BSN Sports Pick: Atlanta Falcons 21-10

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