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Bucs game day is approaching, and it’s time for the PewterReport.com staff to offer up its weekly game predictions.
Let us know what you think in the article comments section and add your prediction, too.
BUCCANEERS at FALCONS
WHEN: Sunday, December 5, 2021 | WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Stadium | KICKOFF: 1:00 p.m. ET | TV: FOX
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Kenny Albert |ANALYST: Jon Vilma | SIDELINE: Sara Walsh
RADIO: 98 ROCK 97.9 FM | PLAY-BY-PLAY: Gene Deckerhoff | ANALYST: Dave Moore | SIDELINE: T.J. Rives
SPANISH RADIO: 96.1 FM | PLAY-BY-PLAY: Carlos Bohorquez | ANALYST: Martin Gramatica
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live game day chat, starting at noon ET on Sunday all the way through to the final whistle.
Click the link below to access the Game Day Thread on the Red Board.
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Scott Reynolds: Bucs’ Dominance Over Falcons Continues
I picked against the Bucs to win on the road last week at Indianapolis and I’m glad I was wrong. With a quality win away from Raymond James Stadium, I think Tampa Bay has found its road mojo again. The Falcons are awful and have won only one game at home this year. Tampa Bay easily dispatched Atlanta in Week 2, pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 48-25 win. The Bucs will be without Falcon-killer Mike Edwards this week as he’s suspended for three games due for violating NFL policy regarding his vaccination status.
Bucs ILB Devin White – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs have scored no fewer than 31 points against the Falcons in any of their last three games. The 31 points came in last year’s 31-27 win at Atlanta in December when Tampa Bay trailed 17-0 at halftime. For whatever reason, the Falcons are pesky when it comes to playing the Bucs, scoring 27, 27 and 25 points in each of the last three games. Tampa Bay really needs to step up its scoring on the road and put another 30-plus points on the scoreboard. The Bucs scored 30 points last Sunday for the first time this season. They’ll likely have to do it again.
Tampa Bay has averaged 41 points per game against Atlanta in the last three games. The Bucs have the firepower the Falcons don’t have without Calvin Ridley. Slow down Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson and this should be an easy win over a Falcons team that isn’t very talent, isn’t very explosive and isn’t as good as their 5-6 record even indicates.
Jon Ledyard: Bucs Drop Falcons, Get Passing Attack Rolling
There are very few certainties in life. Three of them, however, exist whenever the Bucs plays the Falcons. For as long as their careers have lasted, Tom Brady, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have all dominated the Falcons. Brady is 9-0 against Atlanta, including a 28-3 comeback in the Super Bowl. The star quarterback has 11 touchdowns and one interception against Atlanta over three matchups as a Buc. The single turnover came off of a drop as well.
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
Similar production is found in the box scores of Evans and Godwin. Godwin has scored in six straight games against the Falcons, catching nine touchdowns over those contests. He’s gone over 100 yards three times, including a 133-yard performance with Brady last year. Evans hasn’t scored as consistently against Atlanta, but caught two touchdowns against the Falcons in Week 2. In his career, Evans has averaged over 81 yards per game when he faces his division rival. I think he and Godwin get back on track on Sunday.
The Bucs defense is short-handed at safety, but they’ll survive this one anyway. Atlanta has no formidable threats at wide receiver outside of the versatile Cordarrelle Patterson. Kyle Pitts is a beast, but there isn’t much help around him. Given the Falcons struggles to run the football and pass protect, Tampa Bay’s defensive line needs to dominate this game. If they can do that and impact Matt Ryan, the Bucs will be in control by the third quarter.
Matt Matera: Bucs Suspend The Thoughts Of Doubters, Win Big
Outside of the suspension and recent drama with the Bucs, this is a team that should blow out the Falcons like they did in Week 2. I’m confident that Tampa Bay can put the distractions aside and focus on extending its’ NFC South lead. They’ll also remain in the race for the top seed in the conference.
Bucs CB Carlton Davis III – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
I’m really excited to see the return of Carlton Davis III to the Bucs’ secondary. The Bucs really need it, and the fact that Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean will all be on the field at the same time for the first time since Week 1 brings a new sense of hope to a pass defense that’s struggled. It hurts not having Mike Edwards available, especially now that Jordan Whitehead is out for this game. But Andrew Adams is good enough to hold the fort down for a week or two. The defense has to stop Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts, which I think they do, leading to another multi-turnover game.
After Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were quiet last week, one of them is set to go off this time around. Gronk was the best player in Indy, and I think he builds on that with another huge game. The Bucs don’t need to reinvent the wheel here, just play their game and don’t turn the ball over. Atlanta can’t stop the Bucs’ offense for four quarters, so once the Bucs get a lead, they’re not looking back.
After a tight road win last week against the Colts the Bucs are back on the road again to face the Atlanta Falcons. After dropping back-to-back road games earlier this season, the team can bury those early road woes. Tampa also has the opportunity to sweep the series with the Falcons for the second straight season.
Atlanta gave Tampa Bay all they could handle in Week 2 before the Bucs pulled away. Coincidentally, the player responsible for the turnaround is now suspended. However, he hasn’t practiced and might’ve missed the game this week anyway. Starting safety Jordan Whitehead is also out, leaving the Bucs thin at safety.
The game plan should be simple. Get off to a fast start by utilizing pre-snap movement and play-action to keep Atlanta off balance. Sprinkle in a recently strong running attack while controlling the line of scrimmage. Matt Ryan is still capable of beating the Bucs defense, so they must play disciplined football. It’s going to take sound technique and good fundamentals in all areas. Knowing where Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts are at all times will be key. It might be closer than we expect, but the Bucs pull it out on the road once again.
Paul Atwal: Bucs Put Up Big Numbers Against Falcons – Again
Did anyone else not realize that the Atlanta Falcons had somehow become the second seed in the NFC South? Here’s the good news: they’re still not a good team. For as much of an enigma Cordarrelle Paterson is, the only team with a worse rushing attack (by EPA/rush) are the Houston Texans. The picture ain’t pretty through the air either as they rank 24th in dropback efficiency – eking out a mere 0.001 EPA/play. With Calvin Ridley out and the Bucs’ star cornerback Carlton Davis returning to the lineup, I foresee another rough day for Matt Ryan and co.
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
Since Tom Brady arrived in Tampa, the Bucs offense has decimated the Falcons defense. Over those three games, the Bucs have averaged 0.33 EPA/dropback. For reference, the Arizona Cardinals have had the most efficient passing game in the NFL this season, and they’ve averaged 0.25 EPA/play. Expect the Falcons to play a ton of cover 2 zone as they have all season, and as they especially did in week 2 against the Bucs. Despite the two-high structure, Byron Leftwich and Brady found ways to tear off chunks in the middle of the field — averaging 9.64 air yards per attempt (Brady’s third highest mark of the season thus far). Expect to see more levels concepts, drift routes, and seam benders.
Last year’s game in Atlanta was the true turning point, specifically in the second half. This season, I see it being a return to dominance for the offense. On the other side, maybe a turnover or two, and surely a signature Matt Ryan Back-Breaking Sack™.
Tom Brady and the best offensive line in the league versus the worst defense in the league? The Falcons rank last in the league in sacks, which implies that Tom Brady will have all day behind his efficient offensive line. Without underestimating Atlanta’s determination, the Buccaneers should have a very productive day on the offensive side of the ball. Between Leonard Fournette building off his performances on a weekly basis and the wide receiver arsenal (yes, even without Antonio Brown) Tampa can be versatile and dominant with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Scotty Miller is likely to have more reps.
As for the defensive side of ball, there is more unfortunate news. Head coach Bruce Arians informed the media on Friday that safety Jordan Whitehead sustained a calf injury in practice on Thursday. In addition to missing Whitehead, Mike Edwards has been suspended for three games. Edwards has been an asset in the secondary, and Whitehead has been a staple in run defense. Their replacements could create opportunities for players like Cordarrelle Patterson, Russell Gage and Kyle Pitts to make plays.
However, the likelihood that the Falcons offense will present much of an issue for the Buccaneers is slim. Tampa Bay will need to force turnovers and the offense will need to capitalize. The Buccaneers’ defense has not been remarkably successful on the road, but Sunday versus the Colts revealed their ability to succeed. Tampa Bay has played next man up all season. I say they stay in the win column on Sunday.