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NFL picks and predictions, Buccaneers vs. Falcons 2015: Atlanta expected to fix offensive woes

Experts are not moved by Jameis Winston's improved performance or Matt Ryan's struggles.

The Atlanta Falcons moved to 6-1 with last weekend's win over the Tennessee Titans, but there is definitely something amiss on Dan Quinn's team. In the last three weeks, Atlanta has needed overtime to beat Washington, lost to New Orleans and then only beat the Titans 10-7.

Part of the problem stems in the passing game, where Matt Ryan started the season looking like the best quarterback in football not named Tom Brady. He struggled against both Washington and Tennessee, and while Julio Jones and Leonard Hankerson have combined for 80 catches and 1,028 yards in seven games, they both rank among the league leaders in drops.

That should change this week, though, when they face a Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass defense that has allowed 15 touchdowns while only putting up three interceptions. In their last two games, they've allowed Blake Bortles and Kirk Cousins to throw seven touchdown passes, so Ryan has to go into the game with some level of comfort. Tampa Bay will also have to stop the NFL's leading rusher, Devonta Freeman. Freeman has 10 touchdowns and 931 yards from scrimmage in seven games.

If Atlanta can get its passing attack back into gear, that will put a lot of pressure on Jameis Winston to keep taking steps forward. In his last two games, the rookie has gone 34 of 48 for 506 yards and thrown for three touchdowns without an interception, and looks more comfortable playing at the NFL speed. With Doug Martin averaging 5.0 yards a carry, the Buccaneers offense is starting to look like a force to be reckoned with.

Tampa Bay's improvement and Atlanta's struggles haven't made much of an impact on the CBS Sports panel, who pick the Falcons by a 7-1 count, while the SB Nation experts are fully behind Atlanta.


Ryan Van Bibber Stephen White Joel Thorman David Fucillo Danny Kelly Matt Ufford PFT Commenter OddsShark
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