Bet on NFL Thursday Night Football Atlanta and Tampa Bay

November 3, 2016

Bet on NFL Thursday Night Football with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) hosting the Atlanta Falcons (5-3) in a rematch of Week 1. 


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The Bucs won that game in week one but now, two months later, we have a clearer picture of these two teams where the Bucs have gone 2-4 while the Falcons are 5-2.


The two biggest reasons for the winning and losing records? The quarterbacks.That's hardly revolutionary; we've been beaten about the head in recent years about how the NFL is a passing league that, it turns out, is woefully short on passers. Both Winston and Ryan are high first-round picks, both have had early success, and both have also struggled. 


Week 9 NFL Schedule.


Unfortunately for the Bucs, Winston is living through his sophomore slump, one that included a four-pick game against the Cardinals in Week 2, and a three-game stretch of four touchdowns against seven interceptions and two lost fumbles. The Bucs went 0-3.


In early October, Koetter admitted he was "very" concerned with Winston, but added that things could be worse.


"He's not regressing, but we've got to take care of the football," he said. "I mean, we've got to take care of the football. We can't turn it over three times in a half. We just can't do that.’'


Winston has shown improvement in recent weeks but the inconsistencies remain. But that's the deal; young quarterbacks, even the ridiculously talented ones, have growing pains. Look no further than Ryan, who helped the Falcons to the playoffs in four of his first five seasons only to see his game fall off a cliff from 2013-2015.


It's worth remembering that 12 months ago, the Falcons headed into Week 9 with a 6-2 record. But they managed just two wins over the final two months and finished 8-8, ranking in the bottom third of the league in both offense and defense. One of the biggest offseason questions marks: Ryan, franchise quarterback, whose lack of consistency manifested itself in inexplicable decisions and ill-timed turnovers.


But it's all coming together in 2016, Ryan's second season in Kyle Shanahan's offense. In eight starts, he's completing a career-high 69 percent of his throws for a career-high 9.4 yards per attempt. The results: A career-high touchdown-to-interception ratio of 4.75. Both men deserve credit; Ryan for buying into the system, and Shanahan for tailoring that system to simplify Ryan's strengths.


Ryan went from 19th in QB value in 2015, according to Football Outsiders' metrics -- just ahead of Brian Hoyer -- to first this season.


A win on Thursday against the Bucs will give the Falcons a 1.5-game lead on the Saints in the division. But if Tampa Bay can find a way to win, they'll move to 4-4 and just a half-game back of Atlanta in the NFC South.


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