It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Falcons, who have been a completely different team since returning from their Week 9 bye. After starting the season 1-7 (2-6 against the spread), they have gone 5-2 (5-2 ATS) since. The turnaround was on both sides of the ball. After averaging 20.6 points and allowing 31.3 pre-bye, they’re scoring 26.9 and giving up just 18.1 since the break. The reversal has been massive, but it also doesn’t have an obvious explanation – the team has dealt with more injuries since the bye, and the schedule has arguably gotten harder.
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While it’s unclear whether this is a cause or an effect of the Falcons’ turnaround, one dramatic change has been defensive turnovers. They forced just four turnovers over the first eight games, and three of those came in Week 2. They’ve averaged almost two per week since the bye. Forcing turnovers is an absolute must whenever facing Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers, by far the most turnover prone team in the NFL. It’s hard to beat their aggressive offense without forcing turnovers, as the Bucs are 4-2 when they win the turnover battle, and just 2-5 when they lose it. Winston has thrown eight interceptions over the last three games, but he has also averaged 416 passing yards and three TDs per game.
Though both of these teams are out of the playoffs, the stakes remain high for most involved. Falcons coach Dan Quinn could be fired this offseason, and Sunday marks the final game of Winston’s contract. Given how poorly both teams have performed this season, many players up and down both rosters will face uncertain futures, and Week 17 will be their last chance to prove that they belong in the NFL.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
Falcons at Buccaneers
Point Spread: Falcons +1
Total Points: 48.5
Money Line: Buccaneers -114; Falcons +100
Overall: Falcons 6-9; Buccaneers 7-8
ATS: Falcons 7-8; Buccaneers 5-8-2
O/U: Falcons 6-9; Buccaneers 11-4
Players to watch: DE Allen Bailey (hand), DE Adrian Clayborn (knee), WR Julio Jones (knee), S Ricardo Allen (shoulder, knee), RB Kenjon Barner (shoulder, hip), G Jamon Brown (illness), TE Jaeden Graham (knee)
Players to watch: DT Beau Allen (ankle), T Demar Dotson (not injury related), WR Chris Godwin (hamstring), LB Jason Pierre-Paul (not injury related), K Matt Gay (back), DE William Gholston (ankle), T Donovan Smith (ankle, knee), QB Jameis Winston (right thumb, knee), G Alex Cappa (elbow), CB Carlton Davis (ankle), TE Tanner Hudson (concussion), C Ryan Jensen (elbow)
- The Falcons have won each of their last six games in December.
- The Buccaneers have failed to cover the spread in each of their last six games at Raymond James Stadium.
- Each of the Buccaneers’ last night games against NFC opponents have gone over the total points line.
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Odds and lines subject to change. See website for details.