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NFL Game Preview: Atlanta Falcons (-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Josh Freeman and the Bucs host the Atlanta FalconsBetting Overview:

If you are an NFL betting enthusiast and you were browsing the schedule to make your preseason NFL predictions back in August, you would not have circled this game as one that would present an interesting take on current NFL scores.

The Buccaneers are a complete surprise to the entire football world, and they carry a swagger that comes right from their head coach Raheem Morris. This is the same head coach that called his team the best in the NFC a few weeks ago and he meant it. The Bucs are not the best team in the NFC, but they are a very good team.

The Atlanta Falcons, on the other hand, are the best team in the NFC. Atlanta took on the Green Bay Packers last week and pounded their fist on the table as the best team in the NFC. The Packers prolific defense was held at bay, and elite quarterback Aaron Rodgers was kept in check. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan earned his nickname of “Matty Ice” when he drove his team to a game-winning field goal. The way that these Falcons play football should concern any team heading into the playoffs.

Offense:
With the Buccaneers, the offense begins and ends with quarterback Josh Freeman. He manages the game and distributes the ball like a 10-year pro. He uses his limited running game like an expert, and he is becoming very good at picking apart weak secondaries. The problem for the Bucs is their offensive line. You can tell when Freeman is compensating for his line when they play good teams. The Falcons are a good team, and Freeman could be in trouble.

The Falcons offense has more weapons that one team should be allowed to have. Matt Ryan is the quarterback of a unit that includes running back Michael Turner, wide receiver Roddy White and tight end Tony Gonzalez. Ryan is incredibly accurate with his throwing. He has 19 touchdowns this season and only five interceptions with a 65 percent completion percentage. He hits his targets and he usually hits them in stride.

Defense:
If the Buccaneers hold an advantage over the Falcons it is on pass defense. The Bucs pass defense is ranked ninth overall, and they have the defensive backs to help shut down the Falcons passing game. The problem is that the Bucs running defense is ranked 27th overall and that opens a huge door for running back Michael Turner. Once Turner gets going, the rest of the offense will follow.

The Falcons play a bend but don’t break style of defense. They are ranked 20th overall, but they are ranked sixth against the run. Even with their poor pass rush, the Falcons manage to control the line of scrimmage and keep the opposing quarterback under control. Things start going wrong for the Falcons when the opposing quarterback gets into a rhythm and finds his receivers in the middle of the field. But at 9-2, the Falcons have not allowed many quarterbacks to get into rhythm this season.

The Bottom Line:
The Bucs are a few players away from competing with the Falcons, but this should still be a good game. Josh Freeman will hold his own against that Falcons defense, but Matty Ice will put the game out of reach before the third quarter is over.

Pick: Atlanta Falcons

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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