NFL Week 3: Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sun. Sept. 25, 2011 4:15 p.m. EST

Last season the NFC South division got really interesting as the Atlanta Falcons transformed into a legitimate Super Bowl title contender, the New Orleans Saints were still one of the elite teams in the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers emerged as a force to be reckoned with led by up-and-coming quarterback Josh Freeman. With the Bucs coming out of nowhere and winning 10 games, the division was no longer a two team race for the division title and a playoff spot.

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Atlanta Falcons logo

Atlanta Falcons

This season things have gotten even more interesting in the NFC South division with the Carolina Panthers bursting onto the scene due to the record-breaking performances by rookie quarterback Cam Newton. With the former Heisman trophy winner being much better than anticipated in his first two games of his NFL career, the Panthers may turn out to be this season’s breakout team, but they did lose the first two games despite the incredible performances from their number one overall pick.

With all that being said, all four teams within the NFC South division cannot afford to slip for a second this season as the race for the division title could come down to the final weeks of the NFL regular season. The Panthers will have a ways to go to compete with the Saints, Falcons and the Bucs, but so far they are only one game behind.

In Week 3, the first NFC South battle gets underway with Matt Ryan’s Atlanta Falcons heading east to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This game will be key for both of these teams for not only the divisional and playoff implications, but the fact both the Falcons and the Bucs have already lost one game in the first two weeks.

Bucs helmet logo (1997-current), nicknamed

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Atlanta Falcons did look like they hit their stride last week after beating the league’s “Super Team” in the Philadelphia Eagles, but they did trail all the way up to former starting quarterback Michael Vick getting knocked out of the game with a concussion. Despite being able to pull ahead after Vick’s exit, the Falcons did show that they are still one of the best all-around teams in the league and ready to defend their NFC South division title.

As for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Josh Freeman and company have had somewhat of a rough start to the season with a disappointing loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 1 (27-20). Fortunately, the Bucs were able to get back on track in Week 2 with a come-from-behind win over Donovan McNabb and the Minnesota Vikings (24-20) in which Tampa Bay scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.

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This Week 3 showdown between NFC South division rivals should be one of the more entertaining games of the week, but in the end I believe the Atlanta Falcons will get their second straight win and hand the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their second loss of the season.

As of right now, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are favored to get the win with a -1 point spread. This spread should be a lock with the Atlanta Falcons getting the win.

Take the Bucs at +1.

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