ATLANTA FALCONS (9-1)
at TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-4)
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Atlanta -1, Total: 50
The red-hot Buccaneers look to creep within two games of the NFC South Division lead when they host the Falcons on Sunday.
Tampa has won four in a row, SU and ATS, with last week’s comeback winat Carolina. Its offense has been phenomenal over the past six games, averaging 34.2 PPG and 431.5 total YPG. The Falcons nearly got tripped up by Arizona at home last week, but still won SU despite losing the turnover battle 6-to-1. Atlanta is 4-1 SU and ATS on the road this season, and outscoring these host teams by an average score of 30 to 18.
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Ryan is 6-2 all-time versus Tampa Bay, but his numbers aren't great (57% completions, 185 passing YPG, 6.7 YPA, 8 TD, 9 INT). In his last visit to Tampa, he threw for 330 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Ryan and the rest of the Falcons are expecting both WR Julio Jones (ankle) and RB Michael Turner (groin) to play this week. Jones played less than half of the snaps last week, but was able to practice, albeit on a limited basis, on Friday. If he's hobbled again, Ryan will just look more to his other two star receivers in WR Roddy White (946 rec. yds, 5th in NFL) and TE Tony Gonzalez (team-high 64 receptions). Considering the Buccaneers have allowed the most passing yards in the nation (313 YPG) and will be without starting CB Eric Wright (Achilles), the game plan should call for a heavy passing attack. The run game is a possibility though, as Turner ran all over the Bucs when these teams last met on Jan. 1, gaining 172 yards and 2 TD on just 17 carries. He scored from 81 yards out, marking the 2nd-longest run of his career, and making the score 42-0 at the time. However, this season's Buccaneers lead the NFL in rushing defense at 82 YPG, and have held five of their past six opponents to less than 105 rushing yards. Despite the Falcons six turnovers last week, this is not usually a sloppy team, as they had just one giveaway in their previous three games combined.
Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman is having an outstanding season with 2,505 passing yards, 21 TD and 7 INT in 10 games. However, he is just 1-5 in his career versus Atlanta, throwing for 1,246 yards (208 YPG), 8 TD and 10 INT. He was held under 200 passing yards in four straight meetings before throwing for 274 yards the last time these teams faced each other. Atlanta's pass defense is much improved in 2012 though, ranking seventh in the NFL with just 216 passing YPG allowed. The Falcons could be without top CB Asante Samuel, who is questionable because of a shoulder injury. The Bucs have not had rookie RB Doug Martin against the Falcons in the past, and Martin has been the biggest reason his team has won four straight games, rushing for 592 yards (6.1 YPC) and 5 TD while adding another 174 receiving yards and a touchdown. Considering Atlanta has allowed 131 rushing YPG (7th-most in NFL), Martin will likely carry the ball 20+ times in an effort to control the clock.