The PewterReport.com staff shares its thoughts on the upcoming Bucs game and pick who we think we win, including a score prediction and a pick-to-click – a Tampa Bay player we think will play really well. Let us know you thoughts and add your prediction in the comment section.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (3-7) AT ATLANTA FALCONS (3-7)
WHEN: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1:00 P.M. ET
WHERE: MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM (71,000)
TELEVISION: FOX (WTVT)
PLAY-BY-PLAY: DICK STOCKTON ANALYST: MARK SCHLERETH
SIDELINE: JENNIFER HALE
BUCS RADIO: 98ROCK, FLAGSHIP STATION (WXTB-97.9 FM)
PLAY-BY-PLAY: GENE DECKERHOFF ANALYST: DAVE MOORE
SIDELINE: T.J. RIVES
PewterReport.com Publisher/Bucs Beat Writer Scott Reynolds
This Falcons team is not the same squad that started the season 1-7. After shuffling his coaching staff, Atlanta coach Dan Quinn has found something that has his team playing much better after two convincing wins on the road against NFC South opponents New Orleans and Carolina, the Falcons defense is playing awfully well while the offense is scoring over 26 points per game over the last two weeks. The Falcons return home this week to play the Buccaneers after recording 11 sacks and four interceptions against the Saints and Panthers, holding each team under 10 points.
That’s not good news for a Tampa Bay offense that is surrendering nearly four sacks per game and can’t stop turning the ball over. Last week, quarterback Jameis Winston threw four interceptions and now has a league-high 18 picks, which ties his career high from 2016 – with six games to go. Unless the Bucs offense can do a much better job of protecting the ball and the offensive line does a better job of protecting Winston, it could be another long day for Tampa Bay.
Defensively, this unit has been starved for takeaways all year, evidenced by the Bucs being minus-10 in the turnover margin in 2019. Not having to defend tight end Austin Hooper and running back Devonta Freeman helps, but Tampa Bay’s young secondary seems ready to get exposed again – this time by quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Former Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, who is Atlanta’s offensive coordinator once again, gets revenge against the team that fired him after the 2018 season and helps Tampa Bay stay on its collision course for yet another 5-11 campaign.
Points will be hard to come by for the Bucs offense in this one given the hostile crowd and the way the Falcons defense is playing. And it will be nearly impossible for second-year cornerback Carlton Davis and rookies Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean and Mike Edwards to stop Ryan, Jones and Ridley. It’s hard to believe that the Falcons have won five straight games against the Bucs. Make it six, as Atlanta improves to 4-7 on the year and get out of the NFC South basement, while Tampa Bay falls to fourth in the division.
Reynolds’ Score Prediction: Falcons 32, Buccaneers 20
Reynolds’ Pick-To-Click: OLB Shaquil Barrett
Reynolds’ Season Record: 3-7
PewterReport.com Editor/Bucs Beat Writer Mark Cook
Just a few weeks ago, most were waiting for the hammer to drop on Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn and his staff. At 1-7 and headed to battle Cincinnati and Miami for the No. 1 overall draft pick, Atlanta has somehow found a way to play closer to the team most expected them to be prior to the start of the season. And now, not only is Atlanta looking better, it is the Buccaneers who appear destined for a Top 5 draft pick and a team with lot more questions than answered heading into the offseason.
Like last week, there aren’t many areas between these two teams where the Bucs have a clearcut upper hand needing into this matchup. Matt Ryan is playing better than Winston, the Falcons are getting after the quarterback at a higher rate, they’re protecting their quarterback better, and Atlanta’s receivers could have a field day against Tampa Bay’s young secondary. It just doesn’t look too good on paper.
If Winston wants to make a statement to return as Tampa Bay’s quarterback next year and possibly longer it must start this week. Historically Winston plays his best football against the Falcons, and he will need to this Sunday. The Falcons will score points. Lots of them. Winston needs another Los Angeles or Seattle type of game for the Bucs to win. People say Winston can’t carry this team on his back and do it alone – well he will have to on Sunday. Tampa Bay can’t run the ball consistently and their defensive can’t cover consistently. Winston will need to wear a Superman cape for the Bucs to come home with win No. 4.
With that said, I just don’t know if he will be able to get it done. Atlanta’s pass rush, which has come alive the last two weeks, will give this Bucs offensive line fits. Julio Jones tends to always give the Bucs defense fits. Look for that to continue.
I expect Winston to come close to 300 yards passing and he won’t toss four interceptions, but sacks will come in bunches for Atlanta and he will be running for his life on an already tender ankle. For those looking for a good prop bet, this might be the week you see Ryan Griffin take his first regular season snap of his career.
Cook’s Score Prediction: Falcons 38, Buccaneers 24
Cook’s Pick-To-Click: OLB Jason Pierre-Paul
Cook’s’ Season Record: 2-8
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Trevor Sikkema
Do y’all even want my prediction at this point? I’m 1-9 this year for goodness sake.
Ok so I may not be great at predicting how things might turn out on Sunday, but to be fair to me, I expected this team to be operating under one assumption and it turned out to be the other — mainly me thinking they were going to keep things simple and they really haven’t.
I don’t want to say I’m losing faith in this coaching staff already, but Leftwich’s questionable play calls, Bowles’ odd personnel decisions, and Arians continuing to waste timeouts just to prove points, it just doesn’t seems like this coaching staff is doing “everything” they can to put their guys in the right places to win.
So on Sunday, I don’t think they will.
The Falcons are on a roll right now, and though I don’t expect them to keep it up to this degree, I do think this is going to be a close game, one that the Bucs typically lose in heartbreaking fashion. If Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has anything remaining up his sleeve this season, I have to imagine he’s going to pull it out to stick it to his old team. On the flip side, there’s another former Bucs head coach who is calling some plays for the Atlanta defense in Raheem Morris. Since moving back to that side of the ball, Morris has the Falcons defense playing simple and fast — and it’s working.
The Falcons shouldn’t catch the Bucs by surprise by any means, so I really do think this contest is one that will come down to which team executes their game plan the best.
Don’t blame me for thinking it won’t be Tampa.
Just make sure Mike Evans get his 1,000 yards in this game.
Sikkema’s Score Prediction: Falcons 28, Buccaneers 24
Sikkema’s Pick-To-Click: WR Mike Evans
Sikkema’s Season Record: 1-9
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Taylor Jenkins
When predicting the Bucs’ upcoming game against the Falcons it’s hard to look at the statistics and the unit rankings due to the vastly improved play from Atlanta over the past two weeks.
Despite Atlanta allowing 26.2 points per game on the season, they’ve allowed just 12 points combined over their previous two games against the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers, while their 22 points scored per game has been boosted with an average of 27.5 points scored over those two victories as well.
With some shuffling among the coaching staff, including former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris transitioning to the defensive side of the ball as the team’s defensive backs coach, the Falcons defense has made a rapid turnaround. Atlanta’s defensive line, led by Takkarist McKinley, Grady Jarrett and Vic Beasley, has been able to force pressures when rushing just four, allowing the Falcons to also gain an edge in an injured secondary as they aren’t forced to send extra men to get after the quarterback.
On the offensive side of the ball Atlanta is still talented despite the loss of tight end Austin Hooper and running back Devonte Freeman. The Falcons will likely lean on wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, which could very likely play in their favor as Tampa Bay’s defense is allowing 290.2 passing yards per game and lacks a true lockdown corner to battle consistently with Julio Jones.
Given Atlanta’s elevated play of late and Tampa Bay’s propensity to find ways to beat themselves, I have the Falcons edging out the Bucs in a close, hard-fought divisional matchup on Sunday. It’ll be a back-and-forth game, it’ll be a passing clinic and I see Atlanta doing just enough to escape with their third consecutive divisional win.
Jenkins’ Score Prediction: Falcons 27, Bucs 24
Jenkins’ Pick-To-Click: WR Mike Evans
Jenkins’ Season Record: 2-8
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Matt Matera
They might have the same record of 3-7, but the Bucs and the Falcons are going in two different directions. The Bucs don’t have an identity on offense right now, and the Atlanta’s defense has all of a sudden become an unstoppable force.
Over the last two weeks, the Bucs squeaked out a last minute victory over the lowly Cardinals and got demolished by the Saints. Meanwhile, the Falcons haven’t allowed a touchdown in that time, having very convincing roads wins of 26-9 over the Saints and 29-3 against the Panthers. The Falcons have simplified things while the Bucs have made things more complicated.
If the Bucs are going to win, they need to get the ball in the hands of their best players. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are still the best wide receiver duo in the NFL, but they haven’t had the effect recently that they would like. Evans has just eight catches over the last two games while Godwin has nine in that same span. This comes after Evans had 23 catches between Weeks 8 and 9. Godwin has cooled off over the past four weeks, but I think this is the week where he picks it up again. Another question for the Bucs offense is who becomes the third receiver? They had success throwing to Ronald Jones against the Cardinals, and Cam Brate and Scotty Miller had a good game against New Orleans, so one of them will have to step up.
This week should mark the return of cornerback Jamel Dean, not because Dean was injured, but the Bucs coaching staff elected to use a different package in the nickel that involved Mike Edwards, meaning Dean got no snaps. Even with more playing time that’s not going to be enough to stop Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. The fact that Austin Hooper helps the Bucs chances, the Falcons still have enough to score on the Bucs as every other team has this season. The Falcons defense will continue on it’s role while the Bucs defense fails to make stops when they need to.
Matera’s Score Prediction: Falcons 33, Bucs 23
Matera’ Pick-To-Click: WR Chris Godwin
Matera’s Record: 4-6