Buccaneers vs Falcons

Buccaneers vs Falcons: After an unsuccessful stretch against AFC North opposition, the Atlanta Falcons are back in familiar territory. A divisional clash against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on their home turf is the best matchup they can ask for during these turbulent times. Although Tampa Bay is coming off a bye, they have endured their fair share of problems. Look no further than Dirk Koetter stating “fire everyone” following a humiliating defeat to Chicago.

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Although things aren’t quite as drastic in Atlanta, they’re coming off the back end of their own humiliation in Pittsburgh. A complete second-half drubbing leaves them on the brink of irrelevancy. With the defense not correcting weekly mistakes and a once-reliable offensive line starting to look overmatched, it’s fair to question if the Falcons are good enough to remain competitive this season. This upcoming two-game stretch against two unbalanced teams will decide where the Falcons are headed. It starts by facing a team they have beaten in their last three meetings.

It’s difficult to comprehend how one of the best wide receivers in the league didn’t catch a pass until the fourth quarter against one of the worst defenses in the league. It’s the latest chapter of Jones’ spectacular yet bizarre career. When you expect him to explode, it never quite materializes into a dominant performance. Between the offensive line imploding to Matt Ryan throwing behind him on a few occasions, Jones was unable to make an impact. It led to more questions being asked about his usage during Dan Quinn’s post game press conference. The fiery head coach wasn’t thrilled to hear more of the same questions he’s been hearing over the past two seasons. Better results on the field will prevent Quinn from having to hear those redundant questions.

What better way to address an issue than facing one the most overmatched defenses in the league. It’s the same defense Jones torched last season for 253 yards and two touchdowns inside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mike Smith’s defense had no answer for a player he coached for four seasons. When they played either Cover 2 or Cover 4, Jones found the soft openings within their coverage. When Ryan Smith was forced to cover Jones, he was hopeless in trying to stay in front of the superstar wide receiver.

This is an excellent matchup for Jones to take over and bring some hope back to Atlanta. While they were busy improving on an anemic front four, Tampa Bay failed to make any significant changes in the secondary. Brent Grimes is a year older, while the rest of the cornerbacks are either below average or unheralded. It should be a major priority for Steve Sarkisian to make sure Jones gets at least ten targets. If that happens, another monster game appears to be on the horizon. A rare touchdown may be in the cards as well.

One of the more favorable aspects of playing Tampa Bay in recent years was facing their limited front four. A lack of speed off the edge and power on the interior outside of Gerald McCoy made them an accommodating opponent. Quarterbacks would be comfortable standing in the pocket, while running backs didn’t have trouble finding gaping holes. That isn’t quite the case anymore. By taking an aggressive approach in signing Vinny Curry and trading for Jason Pierre-Paul, the Bucs’ front four aren’t pushovers anymore. There are still major problems across Smith’s defense, but the defensive line is capable of holding their own and bringing pressure.

Following last week’s debacle in Pittsburgh, there is significant pressure on the offensive line. Allowing six sacks is unacceptable, especially for a stabilized offensive line. What makes matters worse is Ryan Schraeder and Alex Mack were responsible for half of the sacks. The top two offensive linemen on the team have shown signs of major regression this season. Their disappointing play has also affected the running game, which hasn’t been effective in weeks. Some of their struggles could be due to Sarkisian’s insistence on running more outside zone. Per Pro Football Focus, the Falcons are running outside zone at a rate of 54% this season. That is eight percent more than any other team.

Diversifying the style of runs could be beneficial in reigniting a once-lethal running game. Regardless of how Sarkisian adjusts, the offensive line must perform better as a unit. They lost countless individual battles last week that prevented the offense from finding any rhythm.

The enormous wide receiver has found joy against the Falcons’ secondary in the past. In six games against Dan Quinn’s squad, Evans has caught five or more passes and gained 60 or more yards in every game except the first matchup. He also scored five touchdowns in the process. Other than Michael Thomas, there is no receiver that terrorizes the Falcons quite like Evans. His ability to use his large frame and catch contested passes across the middle is problematic for Quinn’s Cover 3 defense. If the Falcons shift to play man coverage, Evans can create separation at will. Robert Alford has looked overmatched when trying to square up against the star receiver.

Desmond Trufant hasn’t fared much better in the past. Similar to Alford, the former Pro Bowler tends to struggle against physical wide receivers. He is still by far the best option towards limiting Evans. Unlike in past seasons, the Bucs’ aren’t a dysfunctional one-dimensional offense. They have a plethora of playmakers at wide receiver and tight end. Trying to provide safety help doesn’t seem realistic, given Tampa Bay’s resources and Jameis Winston’s aggressive style. While Quinn will stick to playing more zone, Trufant should be used to shadow Evans when playing man. His willingness to get physical at line of scrimmage and anticipate routes makes him a better option than Alford.

After an extremely disappointing start to the season, the normally reliable corner was back to his best against Pittsburgh. He didn’t allow a single catch on four targets according to Pro Football Focus. That includes him tracking Antonio Brown and breaking up a potential touchdown in the red zone. It will take a collective effort to slow down Evans. Relying on Trufant on clear passing downs could end up being the difference.

Within the abyss of the Falcons’ decimated defense, there are two young players stepping up in an otherwise disappointing group. Deadrin Senat and Damontae Kazee have played relatively well this season. Although Senat doesn’t have a steady role in the rotation, he is starting to see his snap count increase. His impressive performance against Pittsburgh came at an opportune time. With Grady Jarrett sidelined and the coaching staff having no other choice than to use the “next man up” approach, Senat stood out from the pack. He manhandled Maurkice Pouncey on multiple running plays. From playing with a strong base to using his fast hands to shed blocks, the Falcons appear to have a real solution at one-tech alongside Jarrett.

Kazee has bounced back nicely following his moment of madness against Carolina. Moving from cornerback to free safety can be a difficult process, especially when your pressed into the role. It hasn’t been a smooth transition, but there are more than enough encouraging signs that show he can be an above-average starter. Kazee entered the league with a reputation for being a ballhawk. Those tremendous ball skills have been on display, as Kazee’s stat sheet speaks for itself. In four-and-half games, the second-year player has produced two interceptions, one forced fumble, and three passes defensed. Let’s not forget his well-timed jarring hit on Dallas Goedert that led to Deion Jones capitalizing for an interception.

He does need to read the game better, as quarterbacks are starting to tear the secondary apart down the seam. For all the growing pains, both players have shined and will be needed to help the Falcons salvage what is becoming a lost season.

Seahawks vs Raiders

An old NFL rivalry renews Sunday when the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks meet at Wembley Stadium in London at 1 p.m. ET. The former AFC West foes, who now reside in separate conferences, will be seeking a quality victory to spark a turnaround to their season’s fortunes. Seattle hopes to bounce back from a narrow home loss to the Rams, while the Raiders are looking to recover from their worst performance of the season in a loss to the Chargers.

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The Seahawks are 2.5-point favorites and the over-under for total points scored is 48.5 in the latest Seahawks vs. Raiders odds. Before you make any Seahawks vs. Raiders picks for NFL in London, check out what SportsLine analyst Josh Nagel has to say.

A Nevada-based expert with 20 years of experience in the sports wagering industry, Nagel hit 70 percent of his NFL spread picks last season. He already is off to a strong start in 2018 and heads into the week on a 4-1 run. More important: He has had a particularly sharp sense for these two clubs, posting a record of 15-3 in against the spread picks involving the Raiders or Seahawks during the past two seasons.

In Week 3, Nagel advised SportsLine members that Seattle was in a strong position to pick up its first victory of the season as a slight home favorite against the Cowboys. The Seahawks rolled to a 24-13 win, and anyone who followed Nagel’s advice picked up a win of their own.

Now, he has scrutinized Seahawks vs. Raiders from every possible angle to reveal a strong point-spread pick for NFL UK that he’s sharing at SportsLine.

The Raiders had high hopes for an immediate turnaround after they made the much-publicized hiring of Jon Gruden for a second stint after the coach spent a decade away from the sidelines, but the late trade of linebacker Khalil Mack amid a contract dispute has left them short-handed on defense, a liability that continues to be a major obstacle.

Their offense also has been inconsistent, as quarterback Derek Carr has notched eight interceptions against seven touchdowns, and several of the picks have been crushing blows in tight games.

The Raiders (1-4) should be in desperation mode Sunday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are destined to cover against a Seattle team that also wants to break out of the doldrums.

The Seahawks (2-3) have exceeded most meager projections with relatively solid play despite massive roster turnover and injury concerns. Even so, they have had trouble closing out games, with three defeats coming by 12 combined points. They were opportunistic in last week’s 33-31 loss to the Rams, forcing two turnovers and making big plays early offensively, but the defense couldn’t get a needed late stop to provide one more possession. Seattle allowed 468 total yards and Rams star running back Todd Gurley found the end zone three times.

We can tell you Nagel is leaning toward the Under, but he has also unearthed the crucial X-factor that makes one side of the spread a must-back. He’s sharing it ONLY at SportsLine.

Who wins Raiders-Seahawks? And what critical factor causes one side of the spread to hit hard? Visit SportsLine right now to see which side is a must-back, all from the senior analyst who’s 15-3 on picks involving the Seahawks and Raiders.

Steelers vs Bengals

Steelers vs Bengals: How to watch Bengals vs. Steelers football game. Watch Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh: TV channel, live stream info, start time

Pittsburgh has been homebodies their last two matches, but they are heading out on Sunday. They take on Cincinnati at 1:00 p.m. The neutral point spread forecasts a close one for these two.

Pittsburgh’s and Atlanta’s match last Sunday was close at halftime, but Pittsburgh turned on the heat in the second half with ten points. Pittsburgh put the hurt on Atlanta with a sharp 41-17 victory. James Conner and Ben Roethlisberger were among the main playmakers for Pittsburgh as the former rushed for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns and the latter passed for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns. Roethlisberger has been a consistent playmaker for Pittsburgh as this was the 5th good game in a row from him.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati was able to grind out a solid win over Miami, winning 27-17. The success made it back-to-back wins for Cincinnati.

Their wins bumped Cincinnati to 4-1 and Pittsburgh to 2-2-1. Cincinnati’s offensive line will need to gear up for a tough test against a Pittsburgh defensive front that amassed six sacks against Atlanta, so we’ll see if they are up to the task.

How To Watch

  • When: Sunday at 1:00 PM ET
  • Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Ohio
  • TV: CBS
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App

Prediction

The Bengals are a slight 2 point favorite against the Steelers.

This season, Cincinnati are 4-1-0 against the spread. As for Pittsburgh, they are 2-3-0 against the spread

Series History

Pittsburgh have won 6 out of their last 7 games against Cincinnati.

  • 2017 – Cincinnati Bengals 20 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 23
  • 2017 – Pittsburgh Steelers 29 vs. Cincinnati Bengals 14
  • 2016 – Cincinnati Bengals 20 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 24
  • 2016 – Pittsburgh Steelers 24 vs. Cincinnati Bengals 16
  • 2015 – Cincinnati Bengals 16 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 18
  • 2015 – Cincinnati Bengals 20 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 33
  • 2015 – Pittsburgh Steelers 10 vs. Cincinnati Bengals 16

Alabama vs Missouri

Alabama vs Missouri :How Alabama can respond defensively after losing starting cornerback Trevon Diggs and allowing big numbers to Arkansas a week ago.

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The Tigers haven’t been the best defending the pass. The Tigers rank 117th of 130 FBS teams in passing defense. Purdue threw for 572 yards on Missouri back in Week 3. Meanwhile, Alabama has the nation’s No. 6 passing offense throwing for 345.3 yards a game. Starter Tua Tagovailoa hasn’t played a down even in the neighborhood of the fourth quarter, so the Tigers have a serious test against perhaps its greatest weakness.

It’s continued to be a mixed bag for Alabama. It has touchdowns both on kickoff and punt returns, but has given up a few big plays defending kickoffs. There’s also the matter of four missed extra points and an inconsistent field goal situation. Interestingly, the Tide hasn’t needed a punter in either of its last two games after freshman Skyler DeLong averaged just over 35 yards a punt in the first four games. None of it has cost Alabama much to this point but sharpening that tool will be important the deeper the season gets.

It’s gone pretty well to this point for Alabama. It’s plus-nine in the turnover ratio game after getting three more last week at Arkansas. The Tide’s 10 interceptions rank No. 4 in the country while the Tigers have struggled there. Missouri enters with two interceptions in five games and a negative-2 turnover margin. It has thrown four interceptions so far while Tagovailoa has yet to throw one this season. Alabama’s lost three fumbles and Jalen Hurts threw one interception as the blemishes on the Tide sheet.

There was frustration with the way Arkansas threw the ball last week in Fayetteville. And while Missouri will be missing a few key receivers like Emanuel Hall, the Tigers still have a dangerous passing game. The Tigers come to town with the nation’s No. 15 passing offense that throws for 318.4 yards a game. Quarterback Drew Lock is one of the nation’s best and he has the experience and knowledge to take advantages in the weaknesses they find. This will be the best offense — at least statistically — that Alabama will face all season and they arrive the week after starting cornerback Trevon Diggs is lost for the season.

The number of points Alabama has scored off the 13 turnovers it created from opponents. The only possession following a takeaway that didn’t result in points was Diggs’ interception on the final play of the first half against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The senior has his name all over the school record books already and has two games this season with more than 350 passing yards. He was just a few yards short of 4,000 last season with 82 career touchdown passes. He has, however, thrown at least one interception in each of the last three games with two last week in a downpour at South Carolina. Still, he’s a four-year starter who knows this offense and has the potential to hit for big numbers any night.