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Buccaneers at Falcons: Game Preview

Two NFC foes square off in a must-win for both teams

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston will start his first game of 2018
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Tampa Bay hits the road for the second consecutive game after their bye week. They will face off against a familiar opponent in the Atlanta Falcons, a team that has won the last three meetings.

This should be a shootout as two of the NFL’s worst defenses and two of the NFL’s best offenses come together in the Peach State.

Overview

  • All-time series record: Atlanta leads the series with a 25-24 record. As mentioned earlier, the Falcons have won the last three games. The Bucs are 14-12 at home and 10-12 on the road.
  • Longest win streak: The Bucs won six in a row from 1997-2003.
NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay will need big contributions from all of their key pieces.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
  • Largest victory: The Falcons crushed the Bucs with a score of 56-14 in 2014.
  • 2018 offensive and defensive rankings: The Bucs are second in total offense (1st pass, 30th run) and 31st in total defense (32nd pass, 4th run). The Falcons are 13th in total offense (t8th pass, 26th run) and 28th in total defense (t23rd pass, 25th run)

What to watch for

  • Offensive fireworks: This game is going to be a shootout. The over/under is an absurd 57 points. That’s all you need to know.
  • Julio Jones: One of the Bucs’ many achilles heels, Jones should have a big day against this pass defense.
  • Tampa Bay’s running game: This may be the best shot the Bucs have at setting up their running game this season, especially if Grady Jarrett doesn’t play.
  • The Bucs’ defensive line: Vita Vea is finally healthy and Beau Allen may possibly play. The Bucs will need to pressure Matt Ryan often.
  • Under pressure: This is a must-win for both teams. Who will get the job done?

Impact Players

Tampa Bay

  • QB Jameis Winston: It’s his first start since his suspension. Can he bring the Bucs back to their winning ways of 2018?
  • RB Peyton Barber/Ronald Jones: It remains to be seen what the workload split will look like, but one of these two has to have a big game on Sunday.
  • WR Mike Evans: He’s going to feast this week.
  • DT Vita Vea: It’s time the rookie shows why he was a first-round pick.
  • CB Carlton Davis III: Davis should be healthy and good to go. He’ll be needed.
  • S Justin Evans: It will be interesting to see how Evans recovers from his bad day in Chicago.
NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A healthy Vea may make all the difference.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta

  • QB Matt Ryan: Both quarterbacks should have big days this week.
  • WR Julio Jones: As mentioned earlier, Jones owns the Bucs.
  • WR Calvin Ridley: The Steelers were able to contain Ridley last week, can the Bucs do the same?
  • DE Takkarist McKinley: If Jarrett doesn’t go, Takk will be the most important piece of the pass rush.
  • LB De’Vondre Campbell: The defensive signal-caller for the Falcons will be responsible for organizing the defense.
  • CB Marcus Trufant: Atlanta’s starting corner is going to have his hands full with the Bucs’ plethora of receivers.
NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons
Ridley is blossoming into a top wideout already
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Cool Stats

  • The Buccaneers have 1,731 total yards through the first four games. The team needs 178 more to pass 2017 (1,908) for the most yards through the first five games in franchise history.
  • The Buccaneers have 112 points through the first four games. The team needs 16 points to pass 2000 & 2003 (127) for the most points through five games in team history.
  • Lavonte David has 12 career fumble recoveries, tied for the most in team history. He needs one more to pass Ronde Barber (12 from 1997-2012) for the most fumble recoveries in franchise history.
  • Winston has 14 career games with a passer rating over 100, tied for the thirdmost in team history. He needs one more to pass Trent Dilfer (14 from 1995-99) and Josh Freeman (14 from 2009-13) for the most such games in team history.
  • DeSean Jackson has four receiving touchdowns of 80 or more yards and needs one more to tie the NFL record of five, shared by Derrick Alexander, Lance Alworth, Bob Hayes and Jerry Rice.

Game Outlook

Points, points, points. While both offenses are lethal, the defenses are garbage.

Atlanta has suffered a crazy amount of injuries on that side of the ball, while the Bucs just keep doing Buc things en route to another dead-last ranking in 2018.

Expect this one to go down to the wire and be one of those whoever-has-the-ball-last-should-win type of games.