The Atlanta Falcons (8-5) will travel to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida to take on the Buccaneers (4-9). This Monday Night Football matchup will kick off at 8:30 PM/ET.
The Falcons are coming off a big victory over division rival New Orleans. Atlanta holds the 6th and last seed in the NFC playoffs. With only two weeks remaining after this week 15 showdown, the Falcons cannot afford a slip up with so many teams nipping at their heels for the NFC’s final playoff spot.
The Buccaneers are coming off a disappointing loss to Detroit. Tampa Bay is on a three-game losing streak in a season where they have already gone on a five-game losing streak. Before the season, the Buccaneers looked like a team with the potential to make the playoffs. How have the Buccaneers fared? After compiling a 9-7 record in 2016, good enough for 2nd place in the NFC South, the Buccaneers have clearly taken a step back in 2017.
A lot of competition for the Falcons at the finish line.
The Falcons have a difficult schedule to finish the season. Their last two games are against potential playoff teams within the NFC South. Atlanta will need to face New Orleans and Carolina, two teams that are now ahead of them.
With so much competition, the Falcons will have to win on Monday Night Football to set up a chance for a run at the NFC South divisional crown. If Atlanta wins out, they’d win the NFC South.
With so much on the line, the Falcons haven’t played their best against top opponents. Last week against the Saints, Matt Ryan threw three interceptions. It was an ugly performance for sure. Facing a depleted Tampa Bay defense, expect Matt Ryan to rediscover his groove.
Atlanta’s best receiver is Julio Jones. He’s played well this season, but his touchdown totals have underwhelmed. Despite being a huge target and receiving a lot of targets, Jones has only managed to find the end zone three times. Fortunately for Atlanta, two of those touchdowns came against the Buccaneers in week 12.
While Jones is the big playmaker for this offense, Mohamed Sanu has made a huge impact as the number two receiver. He’s found the end zone five times this season. Sanu’s emergence as a big playmaker will help Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense as they make their push towards the playoffs.
The Buccaneers 2017 season has fallen off the rails.
The Buccaneers defense ranks 31st in yards allowed per game, according to NFL Stats. Tampa Bay is giving up an average of 24 points per game to opponents. Facing a Falcons offense that ranks 9th in total yards and 15th in points per game, expect the Buccaneers defense to give up a few big plays on the night.
Buccaneers quarterback, Jameis Winston is struggling this season to make his second year leap. Winston has thrown eight interceptions to 14 touchdowns. On the season, Winston is completing 62 percent of his passes. Facing an Atlanta defense that’s only picked off four passes this season, Winston will get the opportunity to hang with the Falcons for most of the night.
Buccaneers vs Falcons Betting Lines
The Falcons need to win out to make a serious run at the playoffs. Their playoff destiny is in their hands. If they lose this game, they’ll still have a shot at the playoffs, but they’ll have a lot of competition around them. With two serious contenders remaining in their final two games, the Falcons face a potential trap game opponent in the Buccaneers. This game will come down to Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense. If Matt Ryan can execute and limit mistakes, then they’ll win this game. Expect the Buccaneers to play better than expected against a hated division rival, but Matt Ryan and the Falcons will do enough to get the victory to set up a potential run at the NFC South crown.
Play: Falcons -6 @ BetOnline.ag