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Two weeks ago
Oct 9, 2018

NFL Week 6 preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons statistics

Tampa Bay Buccaneers analysis

NFL Week 6 predictions: Where is the value?

NFL Week 6 live odds

NFL Week 6 preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in the pick of this week’s NFL fixtures. Looking for value in the NFL Week 6 odds? Read on to inform your NFL Week 6 predictions.

Atlanta Falcons statistics

No side has experienced the highs and lows of football more than the 2016 Atlanta Falcons, certainly not in the space of a single game. From a seemingly unassailable lead in Super Bowl LI, they succumbed to the biggest comeback in NFL Championship game history, losing in overtime as records tumbled at their expense.

It was a testament to the side’s resilience that they returned to the post season in 2017, winning just one fewer game than they had in 2016, albeit in finishing third in the competitive NFC South division.

They then lost to the eventual Super Bowl winners, the Philadelphia Eagles on the road in the divisional round.

Superficially the Falcons appeared to have recovered well from their crushing loss to the New England Patriots, but their underlying statistics did decline from the highs of 2016 despite a similar win/loss record in 2017.

Quarterback, Matt Ryan was head and shoulders above his peers in 2016, passing for nearly two yards per attempt further than the average yardage allowed by the defences he faced.

He was backed up by a similarly impressive ground game and these two hugely efficient units gained Atlanta nearly ten points per game more than their opponents conceded on average during their run to the Super Bowl.

No side has experienced the highs and lows of football more than the 2016 Atlanta Falcons.

Ryan remained an elite performer in 2017, but this time he was merely 8th in the pecking order. He passed for 0.8 yards per attempt further than the par value for the defences he faced, a huge drop off from 2016.

The round game remained above average, but also faced a drop off in the advantage they enjoyed against opponents and overall points became much more difficult to accrue and offensively Atlanta fell from top ranked in 2016 to just 10th in 2017.

Defensively the 2016 edition didn’t need to be elite, in the regular season at least. They were average against the pass and poor against the run in their Super Bowl appearing season.

Improvement was minimal in 2017, but they struggled to prevent yardage turning into points allowed and from being the elite overall side in 2016, statistically they slipped back to be just a top ten overall unit in 2017.

2018 has seen a continuation of this decline. Ryan remains a top ten quarterback, but this time backed up by a below par ground game.

Defensively, the Falcons have regressed again. They are an average passing defence, that still struggles to stop opponents running efficiently against them and they’ve allowed four more points per game than the admittedly potent offensive opponents have typically scored in 2018.

The only bright spot from their current 1-4 record is that their sole win has come against a divisional rival and they face another in the Buccaneers on Sunday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers analysis

Tampa Bay propped up the NFC South in 2017 with a 5-11 record that was possibly harsh on them.

Their points record was equivalent to nearly seven Pythagorean wins and their record in narrowly decided games wasn’t particularly kind. They lost seven such matches and won just three in compensation.

2017 was the third season for quarterback Jameis Winston, first pick overall in the 2015 draft.

He’s shown gradual improvement, both in completion rate and yardage efficiency since his rookie year and posted his lowest interception rate in 2017.

Statistically, Winston passing efficiency hasn’t been rewarded with wins on the board. He’s missed games in 2017 and 2018 variously through injury and suspension and his backup, Ryan Fitzpatrick has performed to a similar level, whilst also picking up wins.

Winston threw for half a yard per attempt further than opponent defences allowed on average in 2017, but only went 3-10 compared to Fitzpatrick’s 2-1 with similar efficiencies.

Fitzpatrick is also 2-1, passing with near league leading efficiency as the sole starter in Tampa’s difficult opening round of games during Winston’s suspension.

Defensively in 2017 Tampa struggled terribly to contain opposing passing offences, allowing them to throw on average nearly a yard more per play than was typical for them. They were only just below par against the run.

Commendably, they did prevent opponents from running away with matches, allowing just an average of 2 points per game more than opposing offences usually scored.

The bad news, defensively, is that the Bucs still show little sign of defending the pass well in the limited evidence from 2018 and this time the points are appearing more frequently on the scoreboard, even when we factor in the potent offences they have also faced.

NFL Week 6 predictions: Where is the value?

The game has a couple of wildcard factors, Tampa has the superior win/loss record, but Fitzpatrick is likely to be replaced by Winston, as he was in the second half of the recent loss to Chicago and Tampa are also coming off a bye week.

Based on last season, Atlanta would be favoured by nine points, but 2018 places the two sides closer, favouring the host by just three points.

Therefore, Atlanta is taken to win by five, with the potential for the game to develop into a shootout and the points total ending in the mid to lower 50’s.

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