Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bucs in for “Heck of a Fight”

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 3: Running back Devonta Freeman (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 3: Running back Devonta Freeman (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /

Atlanta Falcons are a one-touchdown favorite against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they square off on Monday Night Football .

The Atlanta Falcons are one-touchdown favorites against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they square off on Monday Night Football at Raymond James Stadium. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time this season that the Falcons come up short as single-digit faves. It would be in fact the fourth time. And that’s why Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn is not taking the Bucs for granted. Even if the Bucs are last in the NFC South – where in the Falcons are third behind the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers – and eliminated from playoff contention. “Anytime you’re playing a division team, it’s just a battle. It’s just how it ends up working out, it always is. We expect nothing different, we know it’s going to be a heck of a fight,” Quinn said.

Lines by SBG

Atlanta Falcons -6 (-115) 47½ (-115)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +6 (-105) 47½ (-105)

As mentioned above, the Falcons are third in their division. However, unlike the Bucs, not only are they still in contention for a postseason berth, but they depend entirely upon themselves to reach the playoffs at the top of their class. Should Atlanta win out, they would win their second straight NFC South championship. Atlanta would have defeated the Saints twice and split with Carolina, and would have the best win percentage in games played within the division. In order to do that, though, they need to pull off something they haven’t been able to accomplish this season; the Falcons need to win four games in a row. As a matter of fact, they haven’t even been able to cover in four straight games. Defeating the Buccaneers would get them halfway there, though.

And speaking of the Bucs, something more than just their season seems to be unraveling. Namely, the relationship between head coach Dirk Koetter and Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, which is, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, “not in a good place.” This is somewhat ironic given that Tampa Bay fired Lovie Smith two years ago and promoted Koetter, who is (was?) Winston’s mentor. In other words, Winston is (was?) sort of like this Koetter’s Vinnie Barbarino. The alleged rift between the two came as a result of the Bucs non-scoring non-offense, as well as his role in it (i.e., not being given enough credit for playing through injuries).

Both Koetter and Winston have of course denied that they are on the outs. “I’ve been with Coach Koetter since I got in this league, and he has not wronged me since I stepped foot in those doors. I believe in what we have as an organization,” Winston said, while Koetter called their relationship “extremely consistent.” Maybe they are telling the truth. Perhaps they are simpatico.  Still, troubled waters, fisherman’s gain. And it really matters little whether the trouble is real or perceived.

Next: The Atlanta Falcons; or, the Emperor’s New Uniforms

Trouble is trouble. And Dirk Koetter is in trouble. Of the hot seat kind. And the Falcons could and should take advantage of a troubled Bucs who have lost three straight games and have failed to cover in as many contests.