The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to make it three wins in a row this Sunday, as they go to Georgia to take on the Atlanta Falcons.
The Bucs already handled the Falcons once this season, dismissing them with ease in Tampa in Week 2, and will hit the road as a double-digit NFL betting favorite.
Players to Watch
QB Tom Brady is 9-0 and has thrown for 2,973 yards and 24 touchdowns with just three interceptions in nine career starts against the Falcons. The 44-year-old seven-time Super Bowl champion carved the Atlanta secondary for 276 yards, five TDs and zero picks in Tampa Bay’s Week 2 rout of the Falcons.
On the Falcons, running back Cordarrelle Patterson, has been Mr. Everything for Atlanta. He leads the team in rushing 411 yards, has 41 receptions for 500 yards and five TDs, and averages 23.7 yards on kickoff returns.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan vs. Tampa Bay Defense
Tampa Bay has the league’s top-rated run defense, so the Falcons must open up their passing game to have any chance of an upset. Ryan has failed to reach 200 yards passing in four of the last five games. In addition, none of the receivers has shown an ability to get open deep.
Last time the two teams met Matt Ryan had a good completion percentage but had a bad QBR. He threw 35 completions for 300 yards and an average of 6.5 yards per throw. Ryan did have two touchdowns but the Bucs defense also intercepted him three times. Ryan threw two pick sixes this game, both in the fourth quarter to Mike Edwards. In addition, he got sacked once as well.
Mike Edwards pick-6 Matt Ryan, Ryan's second INT of the game.pic.twitter.com/oB7RpfWT2F
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 19, 2021
The Buccaneers have continued to thrive despite playing significant stretches of the season without TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Antonio Brown and CBs Sean Murphy-Bunting, Carlton Davis and Richard Sherman.
Good news for the Bucs is that Gronkowski and Murphy-Bunting have returned to the lineup for this upcoming game. In addition, Davis is practicing again after missing seven games since suffering a quadriceps injury in Week 4.
Bad news for the Bucs is that Brown had missed the past five games, and now he’s been hit with a three-game suspension for violating COVID-19 protocols. Mike Edwards will also be sitting out the next three games as he violated COVID-19 protocols as well. Edwards will be a huge loss to the Bucs this game against Atlanta considering he intercepted Ryan 2/3 times the last time they met.
The Falcons are in good shape on the injury front, with DL Jonathan Bullard appearing to be the only major concern. CB A.J. Terrell left last week’s game late in the third quarter with a shoulder injury, but said he’ll be ready to go against the Bucs.
Breaking: The NFL announced Antonio Brown has been suspended without pay for the next three games for violating the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols. pic.twitter.com/wCSM2l6fJb
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 2, 2021
What to Expect
The Buccaneers have won three straight against the Falcons, averaging 46 points in the last two outings. Atlanta’s last win in the series was a 28-22 overtime triumph at Tampa Bay on Dec. 29, 2019. The Buccaneers have defeated the Falcons in their last two trips to Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The game is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff.