The Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off in an NFC South battle at 1 p.m. ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Atlanta Falcons are 6-2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since September of 2016, and they’ll have a chance to extend that success on Sunday. The teams split their matchups last year, with the Buccaneers winning the first 35-22 on the road and the Falcons taking the second 28-22.
Tampa Bay’s defense was a presence, as it embarrassed Minnesota’s offensive line to sack QB Kirk Cousins six times for a total loss of 52 yards. Leading the way was LB Shaquil Barrett and his two sacks. Barrett now has eight sacks through 13 games.
Atlanta is expected to lose this next one by 6. Their home turf has been no bettor’s paradise, as they’ve failed to beat the spread in five of their seven home games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Atlanta Falcons Broadcast
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
When: Sunday, December 20, 2020
Start Time: 1 p.m. ET kickoff
TV Channel: FOX
Live Stream: WATCH FREE HERE
IR list: Demontae Kazee (achilles), Olamide Zaccheaus (toe), Jordan Miller* (oblique). Out: Ricardo Allen (concussion), Darqueze Dennard (quadriceps), Marlon Davidson (knee), Julio Jones (hamstring). Questionable: James Carpenter (groin), Kaleb McGary (personal).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
IR list: John Franklin (knee), O.J. Howard (achilles), A.Q. Shipley (neck), T.J. Logan (knee), Vita Vea (leg), Donovan Smith (covid), Ronald Jones (covid). Justin Evans (foot).
Atlanta Falcons Analysis
The Falcons are nothing short of a mess. Earlier this year, they became the first team in NFL history to ever lose two games with a 15+ point lead in a single season. They did it in back-to-back weeks, too (week 2 and week 3). Their record is unsurprisingly just 4-9. To make things worse, they have the oldest roster in the league with an average player age of 26.9. An aging team and a losing record spell a disastrous future if management can’t make changes this off-season.
The Falcon’s receiving core, however, is very strong. Superstar Julio Jones needs no introduction, but his stats are worth a discussion. He is averaging 5.67 receptions and 85 yards per game. But this season has been riddled with injuries for the pro bowler. That includes this week, in which he has already been ruled out with a hamstring injury. Ryan will have to rely more on Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage. In their last game without Jones, the two combined for 206 yards and a touchdown. Ryan should not have a problem finding options without his star receiver.
The Atlanta defense is far worse than their offense. They allow 390.6 yards (28th) and 24.8 points (16th) per game. It is worth noting they allow a touchdown on 68.18% of RedZone visits, the 4th most in the league. They do, however, perform nicely on third down. They allow a conversion on third just 40.37% of the time (14th). Their rush pass defense is significantly worse than their ground defense. While they rank top 10 against the run, they allow 281.8 yards through the air (30th). Tom Brady should have no problem picking apart their secondary.
The Falcons are far away from becoming a winning team they once were. The roster is aging, the team is losing, and there are few points of strength to be optimistic about. With playoff hopes diminished, Falcons fans are only looking for hope. It’s unclear whether that hope will arrive this season, especially in this week’s match up. The Buccaneers are a solid team with strength on offense and defense. It is unlikely they pick up a win this weekend.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Analysis
Unlike the Falcons, the Buccaneers are having a great year. They are just one win away from securing their first winning season since 2016 and their second winning season since 2011. The signing of head coach Bruce Arians in 2019 and Tom Brady entering this season has clearly made life better in Tampa. They are winning games consistently and playing sound football. Even their penalties have gone down. Last year Tampa Bay was the most penalized team in the league (8.3 per game), and now they see just 5.5 flags per game (12th). The Buccaneers are simply playing winning football.
There is no doubt that signing Tom Brady has played a role in the team’s success. The future Hall of Famer is having yet another outstanding season. He has thrown 3496 yards (11th), 30 touchdowns (4th), for a QB rating of 96.3 (13th). He has a turnover issue that needs to be fixed, though, with 11 interceptions on the year (5th). Brady is coming off a clean; however, they completed 15 of 23 passes for 196 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He will look to take advantage of a weak Atlanta secondary that allows 281.8 passing yards per game (30th).
The Buccaneers receiving core is arguably the best in the league. Mike Evans needs 331 more receiving yards in his next 3 games to break Jerry Rice’s record of most consecutive 1000 yard seasons receiving to start a career. He is currently tied with Rice at 6. It’s unlikely Evans reaches the mark but entirely possible. Evans also has 51 receptions (38th) and 11 touchdowns (4th). His teammate, Chris Godwin, is having an even better year. The pro bowl receiver has 51 receptions (38th) for 587 yards (53rd) but just 3 touchdowns. These are numbers only a select few number two receivers would put up, and Godwin is one of them. Expect this talented duo to rack up plenty of yardage in this match up against a poor Atlanta secondary.
Tampa Bay should be considered an intimidating team to face in the playoffs. With both a strong offense and defense, they are a nightmare for any opposing head coach game-planning against them. Tom Brady has already proven to the world he is among the best in the league and possesses a unique clutch ability that few others hold. In this match up against a struggling Atlanta team, look for Tampa Bay to earn a statement win.
What’s Going To Happen
Atlanta is way too hurt. The team is battling still, but it’s playing out the string without enough key offensive parts to handle a Tampa Bay team that needs this. It’s currently the 6-seed in the NFC, and it clinches a playoff spot with a win. It’ll do it with this being all but over at halftime. The Bucs will take control in the second half.