Buffalo Bills (2-1 SU, 3-0 ATS, 1-2 O/U) vs. Atlanta Falcons (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS, 2-1 O/U)
NFL: Sunday, October 1, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Atlanta Falcons -8. Total: 48.5.
The Atlanta Falcons will be trying to remain undefeated when they host the Buffalo Bills at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Atlanta has opened its NFC title defense with victories over Chicago, Green Bay, and Detroit. The Bills have alternated wins and losses, most recently defeating Denver last weekend.
Even against a highly-regarded defense in Denver, the Bills managed to move the ball in surprisingly impressive fashion en route to a 26-16 victory. The Broncos entered Week 3 allowing 1.58 points per drive, good for the 10th-lowest rate in the NFL. Buffalo, however, put up 2.58 points per drive–scoring on six of its 11 possessions before the final kneel-downs. And the home team did it even though running back LeSean McCoy had a less-than-stellar performance. McCoy vowed to bounce back after gaining a mere nine yards in a loss to Carolina, but he rushed 14 times for just 21 yards against Denver. He did, though, catch seven balls for 48 yards. As those numbers suggest, it was quarterback Tyrod Taylor who led the offensive charge. Taylor completed 20 of 26 passes for 213 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. His 126.0 passer rating was the fourth-highest such mark of his 32 games as Buffalo’s starter. It was an especially strong showing against the favored Broncos, and the Bills are underdogs once again versus Atlanta.
“I sense that our team embraces some of the underdog role, and that’s good,” head coach Sean McDermott said=. “There’s a lot of power in that. I would say that we focus on a lot that’s going on in this building, not outside of this building.”
Falcons’ wide receiver left last Sunday’s 30-26 win at Detroit late in the fourth quarter with a back injury. It was Atlanta’s final offensive play before the visitors made a last-second, replay-aided defensive stand to hold on for victory. Jones late indicated that he would have returned to the game if his team had converted a first down and extended its final offensive drive. Head coach Dan Quinn said the former Alabama star will be limited in practice this week but that he will be good to go for Sunday.
“I’m good,” Jones assured. “If we would have gotten the first down, I would have been in there. Yeah, I’m good.”
Quinn is similarly “optimistic” about right tackle Ryan Schraeder, who is in the league’s concussion protocol and missed the thriller against Detroit. Ty Sambrailo started in Schrader’s place and continued to struggle as the right side of Atlanta’s offensive line remains an issue in its ability–or lack thereof–to protect reigning MVP Matt Ryan.
The Buffalo Bills are:
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven games against teams with winning records
- 2-6 ATS in their last eight games on grass
- 0-3-1 ATS in their last four games against Atlanta
The Atlanta Falcons are:
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 overall
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games against teams with winning records
- 7-2 ATS in their last nine games on grass
In the Dan Quinn era, the Falcons have been one of the best teams in the league in turnover margin. They lost the turnover battle three to zero against Detroit and still managed to win. Two of Ryan’s three interceptions bounced off receivers’ hands, so one can assume that another pick-marred performance will not be in store for Sunday. Buffalo is 2-5 ATS in its last seven against winning opponents and 2-6 ATS in its last eight on grass. The Falcons are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 overall, 4-1 ATS in their last five against winning opponents, 7-2 ATS in their last nine on grass, and 3-0-1 ATS in the last four meetings between the two teams. Don’t be surprised if those trends continue.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons -8
It is no secret that Atlanta boasts one of the best offenses in all of football. But the Bills are showing signs of being able to keep up. Taylor delivered one of the finest performances of his pro career last week and the Falcons’ will be without their best pass-rusher in linebacker Vic Beasley. The over is 11-4 in the Bills’ last 15 overall, 7-1 in their last eight against winning opponents, 4-0 in their last four on the road against opponents with winning home records, and 6-2 in their last eight following a win. It is also 18-7-1 in the Falcons’ last 26 overall, 12-0 in their last 12 at home, 8-0 in their last eight against winning opponents, 13-2-1 in their last 16 following a win, and 11-5-1 in their last 17 on grass. Additionally, the over is 4-1 in the last five meetings between the two teams. Look for this one to go over the total.