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Buccaneers vs. Falcons odds: Atlanta a mild favorite

NFL: Pro Bowl-Team Irvin Practice Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in both teams’ first games of the 2016 NFL season. Football is finally back!

That also means that betting and predictions are back, too, which means we get to complain about, take advantage of, or be exploited by oddsmakers’ lines. This week, the Bucs are mild underdogs against the Falcons: OddsShark thinks Atlanta is a three-point favorite.

That’s actually pretty decent for the Bucs. Given that the Falcons are playing at home, that line indicates the bookies (or rather, the betting public) think this would be close to a 50/50 game on neutral ground. Not that there is such a thing in the NFL, outside of the Super Bowl.

The Bucs, though, don’t want to be a fifty-fifty team. They want to be better than the Falcons, by a wide margin, and preferably better than the Carolina Panthers, too. That’s how they plan to win the division, at least.

That may be a bit overambitious given the team’s poor performance last season, but they did look pretty good this preseason. And the starters looked outright dominant in the most important third preseason game. Then again, the offense struggled for most of the rest of the preseason.

Ultimately, we’ll see how all of this holds up on Sunday. I’m optimistic, though. And I can’t wait to finally watch the Bucs play some real football again.