With their home field not much of an advantage through the first two games of the NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hit the road for an NFC South matchup with the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football. The Falcons will be happy to be back home after their offense fizzled on the road last week in a 24-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals as 5.5-point underdogs. In Week 1, Atlanta upset the New Orleans Saints 37-34 in overtime as 3-point home underdogs in their season opener.
The winless Bucs were favored in each of their first two games at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and will try to get their first victory of the year at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta as 6.5-point underdogs according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The NFL odds had them pegged as 5-point favorites in a 20-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 and 4.5-point favorites in a 19-17 setback to the St. Louis Rams in Week 2.
Tampa Bay was picked by many prognosticators to be one of the most improved teams in the league this year with a new head coach in Lovie Smith and a new quarterback in Josh McCown. However, the team has struggled offensively and instead continued its recent struggles with an 0-5 mark both SU (straight up) and ATS (against the spread) dating back to last season. The Bucs are also just 2-7 ATS in their last nine road games against divisional foes according to the OddsShark NFL Database.
Atlanta was not any better last Sunday at Cincinnati, as quarterback Matt Ryan went from throwing for a franchise-record 448 yards and three touchdowns against the Saints to just 231 yards with one TD and three interceptions vs. the Bengals. The Falcons have not generated much of a rushing attack in their first two games either, with running back Steven Jackson totaling 98 yards between them. They have performed well though recently against NFC South opponents at home, covering their past four there.
This primetime Buccaneers vs. Falcons matchup is the second straight divisional game played on Thursday Night Football following Steelers-Ravens in Week 2. Home teams are a perfect 2-0 straight-up and against the spread when playing on Thursdays in 2014, including the Packers-Seahawks game that opened the season on Sept. 4. Seattle and Baltimore won the first two Thursday games by a combined 40 points.