The Bucs and Falcons square off for control of the NFC South
After opening 2-0, the Tampa Bay Bucs have fallen to 2-2 with back-to-back losses to the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Now they have an opportunity to get back over .500 and take over control of the division as they face off against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons are a surprising 2-2, beating the Seahawks and Browns in back to back weeks. The story for the Falcons this season has been the play of running back Cordarrelle Patterson, but Patterson was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Patterson has 380 rushing yards to go along with 28 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Now, the Falcons will have to turn to Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley to take over the run game which will go up against the Bucs’ 12th ranked run defense – allowing 106.8 rush yards per game.
The Bucs lead the all-time series 29-28, having won four in a row and five of the last six. Prior to that, the Falcons had their own five game win streak so with a win Sunday the Bucs can match that, one shy of the series record. The Bucs won six in a row from 1997-2003. Of course, there’s the additional story that Tom Brady has never lost to Atlanta in his career – joining the Bucs, Patriots, Cowboys, and Vikings.
Mike Evans has enjoyed the most success of his career against the Falcons, having 1,236 receiving yards against them – the only team he has surpassed 1,000 yards against – as well as ten touchdowns, another personal best against a single opponent. Last season in the two games against Atlanta, Evans had twelve receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
This will also mark the first time Julio Jones has a chance to go up against the team he played for from 2011-2020. Jones is the Falcons’ all time leader in receptions (848) and yards (12,896), second in franchise history in touchdowns (60), and second all-time in targets (1,320). While his “homecoming” won’t be until the Bucs play in Atlanta in the final week of the season, Jones has an opportunity to show out against his former team.
The Falcons are currently 25th in the NFL in pass defense (260 yards/game), 21st in the NFL in rush defense (126.3 yards/game), and 25th in the NFL in scoring defense (25.3 points/game). The Bucs’ offense finally started to come alive against the Chiefs, but they had the second worst rushing game in franchise history so some balance has to be found somewhere. Against the Falcons, they will have the matchup they need to do exactly that.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bucs are currently 10-point home favorites against the Falcons with an over/under of 48. The Bucs have lost three games in a row when listed as home favorites, while the Falcons have covered the spread in every game this season. Seven of the last eight matchups between the two teams have hit the over.
The Bucs and Falcons will kickoff in Raymond James Stadium at 1:00 p.m. ET. The game will be on FOX with Joe Davis and Daryl Johnston on the call.