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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 26 November 2020

Can the Broncos gain some Super Bowl revenge? NFL week three preview

We look ahead to this week’s games in the National Football League.

Falcons Buccaneers Football Bobby Rainey won't be caught. Source: Reinhold Matay/AP/Press Association Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons – Thursday

If you’d told Tampa Bay fans at the start of the season they could have the same record as the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints after two games most would have bitten your hand off. Unfortunately for the Bucs, that record is 0-2.

Theoretically, it doesn’t get any easier this week as they must travel to NFC South rivals Atlanta for Thursday Night Football but there’s something about the Falcons that brings out the best in the Buccaneers.

While, over the last five seasons, Tampa Bay have scored 24.3 points per game against Atlanta they only score 19.7 in all their other games. It’s less than a touchdown but the first number puts them in the top ten teams in the league while the second would place them in the bottom five.

The Falcons scoring rate increases in these match-ups too (from 24.5 ppg to 26.6) but it is the Buccaneers who have won the majority of match-ups between these two, including a 41-28 victory last season.

With Roddy White carrying a knock into the game, the Bucs will hope to focus more on Julio Jones and it’s likely that Alterraun Verner – regarded by many as one of the best cover corners in the NFL – will drop back into zone coverage against the receiver who has his number when it comes to pace.

On offence, Tampa will hope Bobby Rainey can repeat his performance the last time these two met when he rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns before adding another score through the air.

Line: The Falcons are 6.5 point favourites.

Best bet: Bobby Rainey first Tampa Bay touchdown scorer at 9/2 seems as good as any.

Fantasy advice: If Roddy White doesn’t play or is limited, it plays into the Tampa defence’s hands and will make Julio Jones a player you might want to bench this week.

Verdict: As the Ravens proved last week, divisional games are really hard to call but the play calling from Lovie Smith has been too conservative for the Bucs to cause an upset. Falcons by 7+

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions – Sunday, 6pm

Speaking of divisional foes, there is no older, continuous rivalry in the National Football League than the Packers and Lions who have played each other every year since 1932. However, the rivalry has been very one-sided of late.

Under Mike McCarthy, the Packers are 8-2 against the Lions but will have to improve significantly after a stuttering display against the Jets last week. Indeed, were it not for the phenomenal performance of Jordy Nelson (209 receiving yards) and an erroneous time-out call, Green Bay could be going into Sunday’s early game 0-2.

The Lions suffered their first loss under new head coach Jim Caldwell last week when the Panthers stuffed their run game and kept Calvin Johnson (83 yards) relatively quiet. Reggie Bush and Joique Bell should have more success this week against a Packers defence giving up 176.5 yards per game on the ground.

Line: Detroit are one point favourites.

Fantasy advice: This is likely to be a high-scoring affair. If you’ve Rodgers, Stafford, Megatron or Nelson, start them.

Verdict: The Lions have not been good against the Packers of late but, if they establish a run game Sunday, they should do the business. Lions by 3.

10ThingstoSee-Sports The Broncos will hope to get off to a better start than they did in the Super Bowl. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Denver Broncos @ Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, 9.25pm

Strange as it may seem, the best thing that could have happened the Seahawks is their surprise 30-21 defeat to the Chargers last week. Gone is the air of invincibility that has surrounded Seattle since they trashed the Broncos in last February’s Super Bowl.

We’ve already taken a close look at the weaknesses shown by the Seahawks’ defence last week and, at home, Seattle will be keen to avoid having their defence on the field for anything close to the 42 minutes they were asked to work against the Chargers.

While the Broncos have had their issues, they are 2-0 and already showing signs their defence is better than the one so easily dismantled by Pete Carroll’s men in the Super Bowl. On offence, Peyton Manning doesn’t show any signs of ageing, failing with just five of 26 passes against the Chiefs and adding three more touchdowns to his repertoire.

Line: Seattle are five point favourites.

Fantasy advice: If you’re lucky enough to have Peyton Manning congratulations but you’re always taking a risk against the Legion of Boom. Like Rodgers in week one, I’d be looking elsewhere.

Verdict: The Broncos want revenge but Seattle at home are more than a match for anyone. Seahawks by 5.

Other games and picks

San Diego Chargers @ Buffalo Bills -1
Tennessee Titans @ Cincinnati Bengals -7
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns evens
Indianapolis Colts @ Jackonville Jaguars +7
Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints -10.5
Oakland Raiders @ New England Patriots -15.5
Houston Texans @ New York Giants +1
Washington @ Philadelphia Eagles -7
Dallas Cowboys @ St. Louis Rams evens
San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals evens
Kansas City Chiefs @ Miami Dolphins -4
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Carolina Panters -3
Chicago Bears @ New York Jets -2.5

Note, the team in bold is picked to beat the spread, not necessarily win the game.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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