Greg Cote

Falcons-Bucs could be another Thursday-night channel-changer

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) signals at the line of scrimmage during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sun., Oct. 23, 2016.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) signals at the line of scrimmage during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sun., Oct. 23, 2016. AP

FALCONS (5-3) at BUCCANEERS (3-4)

Line: ATL by 4.

Cote’s pick: ATL 30-17.

TV: 8:25 p.m. Thursday, NFLN (airing in South Florida).

Tampa Bay won in Atlanta 31-24 on Kickoff Weekend for a third consecutive Bucs victory in this NFC South series. So, go ahead and be tempted by the home ’dogs here in this Week 9 start-up. But resist that temptation! Atlanta is percolating as NFL’s best offense in 2016; Matt Ryan has sprayed TD passes to 10 different receivers. And now he’s facing a T-Bay defense that last week was strafed for 626 yards — more than 500 of them in the air — by Oakland. Buccaneers are injury-wracked on offense, too, especially at running back, so Jameis Winstson won’t have a lot of help. The NFL has been plagued this season by lots of Thursday/Sunday/Monday prime-time games that were some combination of uninteresting matchups or change-the-channel blowouts, and this could be another of them.

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