LOUIS Ross (@LouisRoss67) is on Thursday night NFL duty for us. Atlanta @ Tampa, what you going for Louis?
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Friday 00:25 | Sky Sports 1
At first glance, this looks to be a mightily close game. In fact if you take three successive Tampa wins over the Falcons into account and playing at home this time, it looks like a tough matchup for Matt Ryan and his team.
Rewind to Week 1 and another tough season looked on the cards for Ryan. The Bucs rolled into Georgia and came away with a reasonably easy 31-24 win.
A few things have changed since September 11th though. Ryan has lead a recovery to a 5-3 record which included a desperately unlucky and controversial loss in Seattle.
Tampa stand at three wins and four losses, with a stack of injuries in one key position and a latest loss at home to Oakland which caught they eye for all the wrong reasons.
Let's start with Tampa. Jameis Winston is making progress in his second season. That opening day win looked like the start of a season in which they make some real progress and even give them a fighting chance of a spot in the post season. One of the most encouraging aspects of their play was the balance they were able to achieve on offence.
Doug Martin and Charles Sims both had excellent starts and that dual threat kept opposition defences honest and unable to cover too deep against the likes of Mike Evans.
Both Martin and Sims have suffered injuries, with Martin's less serious but he still is not ready to suit up yet. Ex-Falcon Jaquizz Rogers came in from the dead after being cut by a number of teams.
He did a fine job, until sustaining an ankle injury on Sunday. His absence from this game leaves Tampa incredibly short in the backfield and absolutely tips the game in favour of the Falcons.
The loss at home to Oakland last week was a remarkable result in many ways. Not only did Tampa give up 513 passing yards (one of the biggest numbers in the history of the NFL) but they did that against a team that was setting another less impressive record.
24 penalties in one game is a stunning statistic. To still have a quarterback throw for over 500 yards whilst continually having plays chalked off and losing valuable yards is almost unbelievable.
If Derek Carr (OK he's good but not THAT good) can do that, I dread to think what Matt Ryan will do. After all, Carr doesn't have Julio Jones to throw to nor does he have a running back like Devonta Freeman who is just 8/13 to score in this game. I'm not sure there is a need to go into Atlanta's stats in too much detail. Suffice to say, that they are the number one offence in football.
This is a game I have been tweeting about for a couple of days now. I was all over Atlanta at -3 and am still happy to make Atlanta -4 with Bet365 my main bet.
In fact I have money down at -6 and -10. Obviously I really like them in this game. Being that confident could really leave me with egg on my face but I'm going with my instincts on a team that killed me several times in the last 18 months.
My other pick for this game is one that I really like in these high scoring games. The Totals line is now at 51, a bit high for my liking but with the speed that Ryan and Freeman can move downfield, Falcons to lead after every quarter at 2/1 looks like great value.