Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1, 50.5)
If the conference-leading Atlanta Falcons hope to continue their winning ways, they'll have to derail one of the hottest teams in the league when they visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a matchup of the top two clubs in the NFC South on Sunday. After winning its first eight games of the campaign, Atlanta dropped a four-point decision at New Orleans on Nov. 11, ending its hopes of an undefeated season. The Falcons avoided a second straight loss last Sunday as they overcame an early 13-0 deficit and five interceptions by Matt Ryan to record a 23-19 triumph over Arizona.
Tampa Bay also made a comeback last weekend, rallying from a 21-10 deficit with 11 points in the final 4:03 of the fourth quarter and a touchdown pass from Josh Freeman to Dallas Clark just 4:20 into overtime for a 27-21 road victory over Carolina. It was the fourth consecutive win for the Buccaneers, who had lost four of their previous five contests. The triumph kept Tampa Bay three games behind Atlanta in the division and in the thick of things in the NFC wild-card picture.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX.
LINE: Falcons -1, O/U: 50.5.
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the mid-60s with sunny skies. Winds will blow out of the NW at 6 mph.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (9-1): Atlanta became the first team to win when its quarterback throws five interceptions and no touchdowns since Green Bay accomplished the feat in 1967 with Bart Starr under center. Ryan has been superb over his last seven road games as he has thrown 19 touchdown passes and just three interceptions. The Falcons have struggled against the run, ranking 30th in the league with an average of 5.0 yards allowed per carry. Tony Gonzalez needs 12 receiving yards to become the eighth player - and first tight end - in NFL history to reach the 14,000-yard plateau.
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (6-4): Tampa Bay has scored a league-high 205 points over its last six games. Freeman has lost four of his last five games against Atlanta, throwing 10 interceptions and only six touchdown passes. In his last six overall contests, he is 5-1 with 16 TDs and only three picks. The Buccaneers own the league's best run defense with an average of 81.8 yards allowed. However, the team has surrendered an NFL-worst 312.6 passing yards.
* Falcons are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games.
* Buccaneers are 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall.
* Over is 5-0 in Falcons’ last five vs. NFC South.
* Over is 7-0 in Buccaneers’ last seven games overall.
* Favorite is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
1. The Falcons have won six of the last seven meetings between the division rivals.
2. Tampa Bay has not won five straight games since 2002.
3. Six of Atlanta's last seven games have been decided by no more than a touchdown.