Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons: Game Preview
Julio Jones had 253 Yards and 2 Touchdowns in the Falcons 34-20 win over the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Falcons improve to 7-4 on the year and are set to take on the surging Vikings at home next week. #nfl #falcons #riseup pic.twitter.com/NNgY71S1OT— UnderNeath (@UnderNeathSport) November 27, 2017
Game Time: Sunday, October 14 at 1pm ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, Georgia
Line: ATL -3.0. Over/Under 57.5.
ESPN FPI: ATL 65.1%
Radio: ESPN Radio Savannah 104.3/1400 and ESPN Radio Hilton Head 92.7/1400
Series History: The Falcons-Buccaneers divisional rivalry keeps on keeping on. They spend countless hours planning for one another each and every year. Atlanta barely leads the 59-game series at 25-24-0. Last time they faced off was on December the 18th of 2017 in Tampa. when the Falcons won 24-21. Bucs K Patrick Murray missed a 54-yd FG that would’ve tied the game and forced overtime. Matt Ryan completed 17 of 31 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown, finding Justin Hardy in the end zone for 6 yds in the first quarter. While Devonta Freeman, doing almost half of the work solely on the ground, rushed for 126 yds and a touchdown on 22 carries. On the other side of the ball, the prominent passing offense of Tampa Bay had Jameis Winston throwing 27 passes for 299 yds and three touchdowns on 35 attempts. Falcons defense gave up three big scoring plays to Buccaneer recievers: Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, and tight end O.J Howard for a 42 yd, 16 yd, and a 30 yd score respectively. As for the run, it was mostly ineffective as the Falcons impeded RB Peyton Barber to only 53 yards.
Atlanta: Against Tampa Bay at home the Falcons are 13-10. During the most recent contest neither team could put a whole lot of pressure on the other to create turnovers. Atlanta’s 2017 first round draft pick Takk McKinley was able to produce a sack while Tampa Bay’s defense recorded a forced fumble. Kendall Beckwith smacked the ball from the hands of Terron Ward in the middle of the fourth quarter in an attempt to come back from only a seven point deficit. That fumble was quickly recovered by Brent Grimes and returned for 37 yds, however, the Buccaneers didn’t quite have enough to capitalize on the ensuing drive. Julio Jones went for 12 receptions and 253 yds, Tevin Coleman had 97 yds on 19 attempts, and they both had two touchdowns; one of Jones’ touchdowns being the 51 yd flea flicker from the most statistically perfect passer in the league, Mohamed Sanu. The Falcons came away from that one winning 34-20.
Passing: 304.2 ypg – 11 touchdowns
Rushing: 89.2 ypg – 5 touchdowns
6.1 avg yards per play
Passing: 363.3 ypg – 12 touchdowns
Rushing: 69.5 ypg – 1 touchdowns
7.0 avg yards per play
Pass yards against: 277.2 ypg – 12 touchdowns
Rush yards against: 121.4 ypg – 8 touchdowns
6.0 avg yards per play
Pass yards against: 358.0 ypg – 13 touchdowns
Rush yards against: 87.8 ypg – 4 touchdowns
7.0 avg yards per play
Passing: Matt Ryan – 125-183, 1601 yards, 11 touchdowns, 2 int
Rushing: Tevin Coleman – 225 yards, 1 touchdown, 3.7 ypc
Receiving: Julio Jones – 34 receptions, 564 yards, 0 touchdowns
Tackles: Duke Riley – 33 TOT
Passing: Ryan Fitzpatrick – 87-129, 1356 yards, 11 touchdowns, 5 int
Rushing: Peyton Barber – 148 yards, 0 touchdowns, 3.0 ypc
Receiving: Mike Evans – 29 receptions, 426 yards, 3 touchdowns
Tackles: Lavonte David – 34 TOT
Players to watch:
Offense – Falcons Offensive Line – Steve Sarkisian emphasized this week that the Falcons need to get more involved at the point of attack. Now, with Devonta Freeman ailing again, this time from a contusion in his foot, the Falcons will need their linemen to be especially focused. C Alex Mack thankfully has remained healthy at the helm (Knock on any and all pieces of wood with how this season has gone.) G Wes Schweitzer is still starting in place of the injured Andy Levitre. The mostly consistent T Ryan Schraeder has continued to show improvement. T Jake Matthews has been finding success protecting Matt Ryan’s blind side after signing his new $75 million contract, he didn’t allow any pressures in week 2 against Carolina. NOT ONE. Lastly, lest we not forget the acquisition of G Brandon Fusco from San Francisco. These linemen are one of the most expensive groups in the NFL making up 28.06% of their cap space, and they will continue to earn their keep by protecting Matt Ryan; unfortunately they’ve allowed 16 sacks and 41 QB hits so far this season. Along with backup guards Ben Garland and Zac Kerin all need to be ready to step up blocking for Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith, and step in to keep Ryan on his feet.
Defense – De’Vondre Campbell – The third year starting linebacker stands 6’3″, 234, and was the 115th pick in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL draft out of Minnesota. He has stepped up in major ways calling plays and coverages for the Falcons now with the continued absence of defensive captains Deion Jones and Ricardo Allen. The former Golden Gopher has had a lucrative career leading into the 2018 season. His first season with Atlanta he recorded 48 tackles, one forced fumble, and an interception. Last season he almost doubled his tackling numbers, compiling 92 tackles, one forced fumble, and one sack. De’Vondre has 29 total tackles this season and seeks to be the leader Atlanta needs to command this defense to it’s second victory.
Offense – Jameis Winston – This will be his first start of the year. He was suspended the first three games of the 2018 season due to a violation of the NFL personal conduct policy and then benched for a preferable Ryan Fitzpatrick before the “FitzMagic” sizzled out last week while taking a tough lose to a ball-hawking Bears’ defense. Winston has found success against Atlanta in the past, overall he’s 3-2, and has a 66.9 completion percentage, amassing 1,245 yds and 12 passing touchdowns with only 2 interceptions total. Having plenty of weapons at his disposal, and not too much of a problem with Atlanta’s secondary, keep him upright, and Jameis should be able to come out guns ablazing.
Defense – Justin Evans – The former Texas A&M Aggies safety & 50th pick of the 2017 NFL draft, Justin Evans is returning to start for his second year. Turning heads and being an excellent addition to the more recently less-than-stellar Buccaneers defense. Just last year, before suffering an ankle injury in week 15, he put together 66 tackles, 6 passes defended, and 3 interceptions. While this year he’s totaled 21 tackles, 2 passes defended, an interception, and a fumble recovery that he returned 34-yds for his first NFL career touchdown against the Saints week 1. Evans very much so a big help in such a short tenure.
The game kicks off at 1pm ET in Atlanta today. The Falcons will need to apply pressure to Jameis Winston and knock him off balance without falling too far behind in order to break their three-game losing streak. The Buccaneers attempt to get back to maintaining a positive record, can Winston help them do it?