10-3-1 on the season (77%), Fabian Sommer is upping the ante this week with an NFC South Total play!
We got extremely lucky with our full-sweat winner on the Under in the Jets/Seahawks game.
Jets kicker Sergio Castillo missed three field goals and the game script allowed the Seahawks to chew the clock late in the game. We’ll take it to push our season record of this column to 10-3-1.
In the betting sphere, we often refer to “Over teams” or “Under teams”.
What we mean by that is that teams are specifically built or are performing as such we expect rather low or high scoring games from them.
- A classic “Over team” would feature a good offense and a below-average defense.
- An “Under team” would tend to be lousy on offense and strong on defense.
The Raiders are a classic “Over team”, because they can put up points on offense, but their defense makes opposing offenses look like juggernauts on a regular basis.
This week we get an intriguing NFC South battle with two sides that are looking like Under teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons.
The average scoring total in the NFL this season is 49.4.
I think the number for this game should be below that league-wide average.
On Thursday night we witnessed how rookie QB Justin Herbert tore apart the Raiders defense, spreading bullets all over the field while playing mostly without his two top-receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
Those guys were injured and only saw five combined targets. Just four days prior to that game, Herbert had a tough day against the Falcons. There might be several reasons for that, but one is because Atlanta has been playing sneaky well on defense since ex-HC Dan Quinn got fired after week five.
Since week 6, the Falcons have allowed opposing offenses to score 20.1 PPG.
Over that span, Atlanta’s defense ranks 6th in EPA/play in neutral game situations, where the win probability is between 5 and 95 percent. They rank 9th in success rate, plays that gain positive Expected Points Added.
This defense has severely progressed over the course of the season.
By the eye test, they look prepared and they fly to the ball.
The Falcons are facing an offense that is extremely disappointing to watch.
The Bucs have all the talent in the world on the offensive side of the ball, but they struggle to get their points on the field. Highly predictive inside handoffs on first downs often lead to Tom Brady trying to move the chains on longer downs, hitting vertical routes down the field that don’t compliment each other very well consistently.
Targeting their running backs has been a disaster so far – Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy have drawn 84 combined targets for -21.77 EPA in neutral game situations, that’s -0.26 EPA per target.
As a unit, the Bucs offense ranks 9th in EPA/play (0.10) which is 0.14 less than the top two teams, the Packers and the Chiefs.
I can fully understand that they don’t want Brady to drop back 40 times every game.
However, they could optimize their play-calling in the sense that they throw more on first down, run more on shorter downs and distribute more targets to their elite wide receivers instead of their running backs. Bruce Arians doesn’t seem to care a lot, especially since they were successful against Minnesota last week.
It’s hard to see the Bucs running up the scoreboard against the Falcons this week.
The Bucs defense had a stellar start into the season, but they have put up below-average at best efficiency numbers over the second part of the season. They were gashed by the Saints, by the Rams with an incredible game plan and the Chiefs.
They should have more success against an underwhelming Falcons offense that has been playing at a below-average level recently.
WR Julio Jones will most likely be out again, he was considered week-to-week and hasn’t practised on Wednesday or Thursday. That offensive line should be overwhelmed by the Bucs pass rush and the blitz packages of DC Todd Bowles.
When I look at this matchup, I cannot really see where we should get 50 or more points from.
This seems like a low-scoring affair with two offenses that should struggle to move the chains consistently.
The Bucs are favored for a reason, but I think that scores like 27-20 or 24-17 are more likely than 27-24 or 31-20.
- Bucs/Falcons UNDER 49.5 -105 / 1.95