Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Betting Preview

Sunday, December 20, 2020, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia, 1 p.m. ET

Buccaneers at Falcons Betting Preview: Buccaneers (-5.5/-114), Falcons (+5.5/-106)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s safe to say that no team needed a bye week more than Tampa Bay two weeks ago. The Buccaneers had the rare, unwanted distinction of playing 12 straight weeks before getting their bye. They and NFC South-rival Carolina joined the 2016 Titans and Browns in getting the latest bye weeks in league history.

The rest couldn’t have hurt Tampa Bay last week in a 26-14 win over Minnesota. The Buccaneers played a clean game with no turnovers and only five penalties, taking advantage of a bevy of missed chances and mistakes from the Vikings.

But Tampa Bay may be shorthanded this week if Ronald Jones II, the fourth-leading rusher in the NFL with 900 yards, is sidelined after going on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday. Leonard Fournette is likely to start if Jones, who also has a fractured left pinkie, can’t go, and Tom Brady may have to carry a bigger load.                            

Atlanta Falcons

The offseason surprise in Atlanta would be if big changes didn’t occur. A third straight losing season, coupled with the firing of coach Dan Quinn after an 0-5 start, means the status quo isn’t going to cut it for owner Arthur Blank or the fans.

All the Falcons can do now is impact someone’s postseason. They get two cracks at Tampa Bay in the season’s final weeks, sandwiched around a trip to 12-1 Kansas City. If misery loves company, as the old cliché goes, Atlanta has a chance to take a division rival with it.

For the Falcons to haunt the Buccaneers’ offseason, they have to protect quarterback Matt Ryan. He’s been sacked 33 times and is facing a team that has bagged 40 sacks. If Atlanta can keep Ryan upright, he could enjoy a big game, particularly if wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) can return from injury.     

Buccaneers at Falcons Betting Pick for Week 15

Tampa Bay needs to be ready to play. The worst thing it can do against a 4-9 team three weeks away from the offseason is to stumble around, let them take an early lead and allow them to believe they can pull the upset.

The Buccaneers’ ability to pressure Ryan will be critical, because if they don’t, Jones and Calvin Ridley are capable of lighting up a suspect secondary. In the end, Brady moves a step closer to a playoff berth with his new team.           

Buccaneers at Falcons Betting Pick:

Buccaneers 30, Falcons 24.

Buccaneers at Falcons Best Bet for Week 15

Go to the tool kit, take out the hammer and use it on the over without hesitation. Recent trends point in the direction of a high-scoring game. In seven of Atlanta’s last eight games against Tampa Bay, the over has been the correct play. So don’t be stunned when Tom Brady finds Rob Gronkowski a time or two in the end zone, and bet on Ryan teaming up with Jones and Ridley for a couple of scores.          

Buccaneers at Falcons Best Bet: OVER 50 total points (-110)

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Chargers Betting Preview

Sunday, December 13, 2020, SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California, 4:25 p.m. ET

Falcons at Chargers Betting Preview: Falcons (-2.5/-115), Chargers (+2.5/-105)

Atlanta Falcons

After gaining 70 yards on the ground in Sunday’s defeat to the Saints, the Falcons (4-8) are looking for more from their running game. Todd Gurley was a solid red-zone runner earlier in the season, but chronic knee issues have slowed him of late and he had just 16 yards on eight carries Sunday.

Atlanta is 1-2 in its last three games, but the two defeats were to the NFC-best Saints and the victory was an impressive 43-6 showing against the Raiders. They fell 21-16 to New Orleans in their most recent game.

A Falcons’ loss would all but eliminate them from playoff contention, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions also playing a role in ending their hopes.

Los Angeles Chargers

If there was one thing that could be said about the hard-luck Chargers (3-9) is that at least they were competitive. That all changed Sunday when they were crushed 45-0 at home by the New England Patriots.

Issues on special teams for the Chargers are only getting worse after the Patriots returned a punt for a TD as well as a blocked kick. After rookie quarterback Justin Herbert threw for multiple touchdowns in seven consecutive games (and had at least three in five of those games), he has just one TD pass in his last two games combined.

Los Angeles was eliminated from playoff consideration last weekend. The Chargers are just 2-4 at home this season.

Falcons at Chargers Betting Pick for Week 14

While the Falcons did have 70 yards on the ground Sunday and just 59 in Week 10, those two games were against the Saints’ second-ranked rush defense. The Chargers are 23nd against the run (124.2 yards per game) and the Falcons’ signature balanced offense should be more evident in Los Angeles.

The Chargers expect to see Herbert return to his productive ways against a Falcons pass defense that is near the bottom of the NFL. But Los Angeles’ own struggles at keeping opponents off the scoreboard has led to 28.8 points per game (27th in the NFL) by their opponents.

Falcons at Chargers Betting Pick:

Falcons 30, Chargers 27

Falcons at Chargers Best Bet for Week 14

The Chargers have given up a combined 72 points in their last two games and are well aware they aren’t about to win a defensive tussle anytime soon. The pass is the best way to slice through the Falcons’ defense and the Chargers figure to lean into their rookie QB to open the final quarter of their schedule.

Falcons at Chargers Best Bet: Game OVER 48.5 total points (-110)

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Betting Preview

Sunday, November 22, 2020, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1 p.m. ET

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Betting Preview: Falcons (+4.5/-105), Saints (-4.5/-115)

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons don’t have to face Drew Brees, but they weren’t fazed the last time they faced him in the Superdome. It was Brees’ second game back from a five-game absence due to thumb surgery and the Falcons ended the Saints’ six-game winning streak with a dominant 26-9 triumph last season.

Atlanta is familiar with both Jameis Winston, from his time in Tampa Bay, and Taysom Hill, who both figure to see action in place of Brees, who is sidelined indefinitely by rib and lung injuries.

The Falcons are 3-6, but they are 2-1 after winning their last two under interim head coach Raheem Morris going into their bye last week. Their passing game is still one of the most dangerous in the NFL with Matt Ryan throwing to Julio Jones, though Calvin Ridley’s availability is uncertain due to a foot injury.

In his last four games, Ryan has completed 72.8 percent for an average of 318.5 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions. Todd Gurley has nine rushing touchdowns but is averaging just 3.7 yards per attempt. Since Morris took over, Atlanta is allowing the third-fewest rushing yards per game (86.5) and the fifth-lowest third-down conversion percentage (32.6).

New Orleans Saints

The Saints (7-2) went 5-0 without Brees last season, but that was with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. Winston completed 6 of 10 passes for 63 yards while playing most of the second half in Brees’ absence after the injury against San Francisco last week. Hill ran eight times for 45 yards and lost a fumble.

Whoever plays quarterback will rely heavily on running back Alvin Kamara, who is No. 2 in NFL in yards from scrimmage, and All-Pro wideout Michael Thomas. Kamara is averaging 4.7 yards per rush, has caught 67 passes and has scored touchdowns on seven rushes and four receptions. Thomas, who is recovering from ankle and hamstring injuries that sidelined him for more than a month, had 13 catches for 152 yards in the loss to the Falcons last season. New Orleans won the rematch 26-16 on Thanksgiving to clinch its third consecutive NFC South title.

The Saints have won six straight and the defense has been exceptional in the last two games. They have seven takeaways (two by special teams) in the last two games and rank second in run defense.

Falcons at Saints Betting Pick for Week 11

Kamara is having an MVP-caliber season and the defense is getting healthier and better, which will help mitigate Brees’ absence. Kicker Wil Lutz, punter Thomas Morstead and All-Pro return specialist Deonte Harris will help put New Orleans over the top.

Falcons at Saints Betting Pick:

Saints 26, Falcons 24

Falcons at Saints Best Bet for Week 11

Brees’ absence will be felt most in the red zone, where touchdowns will be less likely than field goals. Both teams have been playing their best defense of the season of late, so don’t look for a shootout.

Falcons at Saints Best Bet:

UNDER 50.5 total points (-110)