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NFC South-leading Falcons look to remain perfect

The NFC South has looked like barren territory this season. Sure the Falcons are flying high with a 5-0 record, but the rest of the division has managed to scrape together just three wins (out of a possible 14) combined. What looked to be one of the most competitive divisions in football season could be wrapped-up a lot sooner than anybody expected.

Week 6 will be a relief for players, fans and bettors alike, as half the division has the week off. That means the opportunity for losing is cut in half. In the two games on the slate, the unbeaten Falcons host the dismal Oakland Raiders while the Buccaneers welcome the equally-dismal Kansas City Chiefs.

Oakland Raiders (1-3) at Atlanta Falcons (5-0)

Sunday, 1 PM ET

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons will look to improve to 6-0 against the Raiders on Sunday.

Oakland (1-3, 0-2 road) arrives in town aware that Atlanta (5-0, 2-0 home) has already dismissed all three other members of the AFC West. With both the Broncos and Chargers looking better than the Raiders, things don’t bode well for the silver and black.

The Falcons will be looking to make a statement, dispelling any naysayers that believe the team isn’t for real, that the team ‘hasn’t beaten anybody yet’. Simply put, 5-0 is 5-0, however you get there. Atlanta has got there in some close games, but winning close ones is a sign of strength. More of the same against the Raiders will set the Falcons up nicely heading into a bye week.

Oakland leads the all-time series against Atlanta 7-5, although the Falcons have won the last won, including a 24-0 shutout the last time the sides met (2008).

Betting movement has seen Atlanta go from 7½-point favorites to 9½-point favorites ahead of kickoff. The Falcons look promising to reward bettors, having gone 5-0 straight up in the last five home games and having achieved a 4-1 record against the spread this season.

The over/under is 48½. This one’s a little harder to pick as the total has gone under in four of the last six Falcon games and six of the last nine games in Atlanta, but has gone over in eight of the last 11 Raiders games.

Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)

Sunday 1 PM ET

Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hope to put a halt to a three-game losing streak as Kansas City arrives in town.

A Week 1 win over Carolina suggested that Tampa Bay (1-3, 1-1 home) might be a legit contender in the NFC South this year or at the very least would make improvements on last season. Fast-forward five weeks and the Buccaneers are looking all but dead in the water. Three consecutive losses followed than opening victory before a bye week gave the West Florida side some much needed respite.

An extra week to prepare for the visit of the Kansas City Chiefs (1-4, 1-1 road) may be enough to give the Bucs an edge in Week 6. Kansas has looked poor, and barring an upset over the then-winless Saints, would be 0-5 going into this one, despite having the second best running game in the league.

A win for both sides is vital this coming Sunday.

The all-time series between Kansas City and Tampa Bay is tied at five, with the Buccaneers having taken the last three. The last meeting between the two sides (in 2008) saw Tampa Bay kicker Matt Bryan – now with Atlanta – kick a game-winning field goal in overtime.

Tampa Bay opened as three-point favorites but movement on the spread has seen this number rise to 4½. The Buccaneers are 4-10 ATS in the last 14, while the Chiefs are 2-4 ATS in their last six outing against Tampa Bay.

The over/under is 43. The total has gone over in four of the last six Tampa Bay games, but it has gone under in 12 of the last 16 Kansas City games, including five of the last seven on the road. As they say, something has to give.

Saints, Panthers Look to Regroup

After Sunday’s emotional, and much-needed, win over the Chargers, the New Orleans Saints (1-4) will rest-up this weekend before heading to Tampa Bay next weekend.

Tampa Bay’s woes this season could prove a spark for the Saints, who will face a tough run (Denver, Philadelphia, Atlanta) straight after the trip to Florida. Much of the focus is likely to center around suring up the defense and finding a running game that works.

After a torrid start to the season, the Carolina Panthers (1-4) will be making the most of this week’s bye, taking the opportunity to regroup and re-strategize before the Dallas Cowboys arrive in Charlotte next Sunday.

Ron Rivera and Co. will be looking at ways of working around Cam Newton, who has been restrained by the team system up to this point. Success in finding a suitable solution here is vital if the Panthers are to get back on track.

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