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 (7-8) VS. ATLANTA FALCONS (6-9)
WHEN: SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29, 1:00 P.M. ET
WHERE: RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM (65,618)
TELEVISION: FOX (WTVT)
PLAY-BY-PLAY: TIM BRANDO
ANALYST: MATT MILLEN
SIDELINE: SARA WALSH
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

Neither Tampa Bay nor Atlanta will make the playoffs this year, but second place in the NFC South division is on the line on Sunday as a consolation prize. If the Falcons win they will be 7-9 along with the Bucs, but will have a better record in the NFC South division (4-2) than Tampa Bay (2-4). If the Bucs win, they will have an 8-8 record and a 3-3 mark in the division, while the Falcons will finish 2019 6-10 with a 3-3 record in the NFC South.

More importantly, the Bucs can truly feel good about how they finished the 2019 campaign and their prospects for 2020 with a victory over the Falcons would mean that Tampa Bay finished Bruce Arians’ first year with a 6-2 mark over the second half of the season, following a 2-6 start. And for the fans, they would like to witness the home team win for just the third time at Raymond James Stadium this season.

Bucs linebackers Shaq Barrett and Devin White – Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs linebackers Shaq Barrett and Devin White – Photo by: Getty Images

In order for that to happen, the Bucs need to continue to put the clamps on opponents defensively, and the last time Tampa Bay faced Atlanta, the Falcons didn’t have running back Devonta Freeman or tight end Austin Hooper in the lineup, and wide receiver Calvin Ridley missed half the game due to injury. Handling the Falcons offense at nearly full strength – Ridley will be out for this game – can be quite a challenge, but I think the Bucs are up for it.

The biggest thing Tampa Bay’s offense can do for success is to play turnover-free football, and that means zero interceptions from quarterback Jameis Winston. If Winston doesn’t turn the ball over, the Bucs should win – even without Pro Bowl wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Wide receivers Breshad Perriman, Justin Watson and tight ends O.J. Howard, Cam Brate and Codey McElroy should be enough for the Bucs to score enough points to win, in addition to the one-two punch on the ground with Ronald Jones III and Peyton Barber. If the Bucs lose, it will likely be due to Winston’s inability to protect the ball.

Reynolds’ Score Prediction: Bucs 26, Falcons 23
Reynolds’ Pick-To-Click: OLB Shaq Barrett
Reynolds’ Season Record: 7-8

PewterReport.com Editor/Bucs Beat Writer Mark Cook

Winning the last game of the current year for momentum for next season is way overrated. No one in 2017 remembered beating the Panthers in the final game of 2016 to go 9-7 that year. If they did, then it didn’t carry over to anything of significance as Tampa Bay went 5-11 following that “momentum” last game win over Carolina.

So winning or losing this game will have little bearing on how the team will perform in 2020. To the fans, however, that might be a different story. Being able to say your team went 8-8 gives you a better feeling heading into the offseason. It might also help sell a few more season tickets or boost corporate sales a tad. So from a business standpoint winning is always a good thing.

Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh and ILB Devin White
Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh and ILB Devin White – Photo by: Getty Images

Still, everyone wants to win, right? The coaches do for sure, and probably a majority of the locker room. But will we see 100 percent maximum effort from either team on Sunday? These end of year games have a preseason feel to me when there is literally nothing to play for other than pride. And with the Bucs down wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, it may resemble a preseason game as well. Players are planning Caribbean vacations, family outings to Disney World or just looking forward to sleeping in until noon if they want. It is only natural. The NFL season is a long, taxing-on-the-body marathon. And who wants blow out an ACL in the 16th game of the season or some other type of long-term rehab injury?

This game offers little excitement to me, and a lot of fans as well, and most likely that will be reflected in the attendance at Raymond James Stadium. If you are looking for good deals on tickets from the brokers outside of the stadium, this is your week.

But the game is on the schedule and still has to be played. So what happens? The Bucs took care of the Falcons earlier this season on the road, so it would be safe to assume the Bucs shouldn’t have any issue this week in the rematch. The difference though is, the Bucs were at near full strength in their last matchup and the Falcons were wounded. This game, it is the exact opposite.

The difference in this game will be can the Bucs manufacture enough offense with a limited receiving corps and how many turnovers will Jameis Winston have? And also will we see a repeat of the Bucs defense that played their best game of the year last Saturday against the Texans?

The Falcons are playing really good football after a dreadful start to the year and with the Bucs lack of weapons on offense, I see the Falcons winning a close game. A late Winston turnover is the difference unfortunately and the debate will rage on all offseason until a decision is officially made on Winston’s future. Even then both sides will still make their arguments on social media and call-in shows, the Pewter Report message board and around the office coolers and family dinner tables.

It’s a Bucs life.

Cook’s Score Prediction: Falcons 28, Bucs 27
Cook’s Pick-To-Click: TE Cam Brate
Cook’s Season Record: 6-9

PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Reporter Trevor Sikkema

What’s the difference between 8-8 and 7-9? Bruce Arians and the rest of the Bucs coaching staff would tell you that there is a big difference. Arians said himself last week that though the extra win doesn’t give them anything in the record books for next season, it does plant a seed of positive motivation going into the long offseason.

Bucs HC Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs HC Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images

But before they get there the Buccaneers have one more game to play, as they host the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. It was recently announced by the team that Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn will return as head coach in 2020. That early announcement is likely a nice gesture to get the monkey of uncertainty off Quinn’s back. But I don’t expect that to make a difference in the result this Sunday.

The Bucs will be without their top two weapons in the passing game, as wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will not be dressed. However, what the Bucs do have should still be enough. Even with Winston’s four interceptions last week, they had a chance to win it at the end. That’s the nature of this team. They still have guys like Cam Brate, O.J. Howard, Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson. That group has shown that in Arians’ offense they can still put up the points. And that performance by them against Houston was against a playoff team. The Falcons are not to the caliber of the Texans, and I expect that to show up in the final score.

I think the Bucs win big. I think for the first time everything truly comes together. They’ve been so close in every area, but haven’t put a true complete game together yet. Winston will make his mistakes, but he’ll make more good plays than mistakes. I can see the run game and the defense also holding their own here in this final matchup. Because of that I see a big Buccaneer victory.

Sikkema’s Score Prediction: Bucs 42, Falcons 17
Sikkema’s Pick-To-Click: QB Jameis Winston
Sikkema’s Season Record: 5-10

PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Taylor Jenkins

While the Falcons enter their Week 17 matchup against the Buccaneers on a bit of a hot streak to round out the season, carrying a three-game winning streak over the Jaguars, the Panthers and the NFC West-leading 49ers, I think the result will be similar to when Tampa packed up and went to Atlanta in November.

Despite missing three of their top receiving options in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and rookie Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay proved this past weekend against the Texans that its offense is still capable of running down the field and putting points on the board. Offensively, it will come down to Jameis Winston limiting turnovers – that’s it. We know the Bucs’ run game is below average and we can expect it won’t be the deciding factor on Sunday. We know that the defense has improved, giving Tampa Bay ample opportunities to win ball games in the second half of the 2019 season. And we know that Winston remains turnover-prone to a baffling extent at times.

Winston threw two interceptions in the first quarter against Atlanta in the last meeting, but rebounded with 313 passing yards and three touchdowns. Atlanta’s secondary has also improved greatly since Raheem Morris was tasked with leading the unit at the year’s midpoint.

Bucs CB Carlton Davis
Bucs CB Carlton Davis – Photo by: Getty Images

For Atlanta, it will be about keeping up – assuming Winston doesn’t throw points directly to them. With Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, who was held to just 68 yards in the last game between the Bucs and Falcons, that never seems out out of the question. The absence of Calvin Ridley bodes well for Tampa Bay’s young secondary, but Atlanta’s offensive firepower remains strong with their talented tight end Austin Hooper and second-year wideout Russell Gage, who put up a career-high 76 yards against the Bucs earlier in the year.

Devonta Freeman is back healthy, but without a running back eclipsing 100 yards against the Bucs all season this game has all the makings of an NFC South shootout, and I don’t see Tampa Bay losing a shootout to Atlanta this year as they have so regularly in past seasons.

Jenkins’ Score Prediction: Bucs 33, Falcons 20
Jenkins’ Pick-To-Click: WR Breshad Perriman
Jenkins’ Season Record: 5-10

PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Matt Matera

It’s going to look a little different this second time around that the Bucs and Falcons play. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, and Jordan Whitehead are out for the Bucs, while running back Devonta Freeman and tight end Austin Hooper both return for Atlanta. Even with the additions for the Falcons and subtractions for the Bucs, I see the Bucs winning much like they did in their first meeting – handily, and by double digits.

Bucs ILB Devin White
Bucs ILB Devin White – Photo by: Getty Images

The Bucs are one of the best teams in stopping the run, so slowing down Freeman won’t be much of a problem. You know why the Bucs defense was so successful when these teams played in Week 12? Tampa Bay got to the quarterback. And that’s exactly what it will do again to a weak Atlanta offensive line. Devin White blitzed up the middle without any trouble, and the rest of the defensive line caused a ton of issues for Matt Ryan. I see Shaq Barrett breaking the Bucs’ single season franchise record, as the Bucs record at least three sacks.

Jameis Winston may not have Evans and Godwin out there, but the last game showed that the Bucs offense could still move the ball with Breshad Perriman as the number one receiver. Tampa Bay was able to go down the field, it was just the five turnovers that prevented them from scoring more and they still put up 20 points. This is the last chance for Winston to leave a lasting, positive impression as we enter the offseason with questions about his future here in Tampa Bay. Look for a mix of Perriman, Justin Watson, Cam Brate and O.J. Howard, as the Bucs do what they need to do on both sides of the ball to win.

Matera’s Score Prediction: Bucs 33, Falcons 20
Matera’s Pick-To-Click: ILB Devin White
Matera’s Season Record: 7-8

Subscribe
Notify of
33 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
twspin

I agree with Scott here. The Bucs will play well However..The Turnover King must keep his turnovers to a minimum of..lets say one.. in order for us to Win. The Falcons have been playing a hellava lot better since their
byr winning 5 of 7. We have played better also but are down 2..Outstanding receivers. If Our Bucs bring the Pass Rush and the Cardiac Kid can stay focused, I got us winning this one by 7. We really do need to finish 8-8.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
AlbJack65

Mark Cook, by being one of the writers for this site, I’m ASSUMING you played competitive sports at some point past elementary school. But it sure doesn’t sound like it. What a weak, defeatist and lazy attitude you have assigned to this team. And this bunch does not deserve that label. Nothing to play for but pride? PRIDE is part of the equation in EVERY game for players of any sport that play for the love of the game. I’m disappointed in you.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Bucnut2

It’s not defeatist at all. It’s real. There is nothing to play for. Players are busy planning their vacations. Not sure I agree that bucs will lose BUT Cook’s logic is sound

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
AlbJack65

“Nothing to play for”? That statement in and of itself is defeatist.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
twspin

Not really. Mr Cook is a writer entitled to his opinion just like all of us. Its called, Freedom Of Speech man.
You can be a Buc Fams and be a realist and pragmatic guy at the same time. I’m often critical of my Bucs and still..luv the hell out of them!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
AlbJack65

Of course he is entitled to his opinion, he gets paid for it. He got paid to assign a weak, lazy and defeatist attitude to a team that does not deserve that label. He basically labeled them as quitters. If I was a Bucs player next year I would not give Cook the time of day, let alone an interview.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
twspin

Get a grip or..a life Albjack65. Its only football. 10 people died in Iraq last night!
I and many others here are not down on Mr. Cook for expressing his opinions. YOU..should work for our President. Sick’em Boy! Ohhh and our Bucs did exactly as Mr Cook predicted they would..LOSE against the Falcons. He..just had the Be-alls to say it before it happened. Crumpets and tea Mr. Albjack65?

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
seat26

Two evenly matched teams. I think Bucs are better, but Winston is the wildcard. IF his game is on, we win, and if he throws 3 interceptions, we lose.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BigSombrero

Matt Ryan won’t have Calvin Ridley. He may not have Julio Jones either. The Falcons players don’t have to save Dan Quinn’s job, but they won’t show up on Sunday and lay down for a division rival. I think this outdoor game will be another Winston classic. No rushing attack to balance Winston’s 3 TD’s, 3 INT’s, 5 sacks, and 320 yards passing.

Bucs 30
Falcons 31

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BigSombrero

Dirk Koetter’s revenge game? Seemed to work for Kwon, VH3, and McCoy(on his 2nd attempt). I don’t blame Jameis, or the backup WR’s, or the rushing attack that can’t get on track, or the offensive line, or the young secondary, or the 1st year OC, or the poorly timed drops, or even the officiating. I blame the fans. No one shows up. No “12th” man here to give the defense any help. No one screams at refs and makes their life hell when they have a quick whistle like in Pittsburgh or New England. No one here to feed the… Read more »

scubog

Funny how in Bucville the “12th Man” can almost literally be the twelfth person in the stands. The problems with attendance began when the original 10 year commitment expired in 2008. Many of those folks didn’t renew. At the same time the games were allowed to be on TV regardless of the number of tickets sold. Then the Bucs were knee-deep in their down-slide. Apathy set in. The final nail in the coffin was the ability to sell tickets on the various ticket exchanges for profit. The end result is poor attendance that would be worse if not bolstered by… Read more »

BigSombrero

I wasn’t exactly correct, but I was pretty close. Hate it when Im right and I pick them to lose. Tough loss. Off season should be interesting. Bucs picking 12th in the draft.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Horse

This is going to be one hard-hitting game; no one on either side is going to give up.
I’ll take any kind of a win. Bucs win!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Horse

I see that I have someone who doesn’t care for anything I write. Okay I get it.
So you must be an anti Buc fan since it appears you don’t want them to win. If you don’t believe this is going to be a hard-fought game, then you might want to check out the Falcon websites. There is little love between these two teams.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
scubog

I like what you write Horse.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
martinii

Horse, “You can please some of the people some of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Abe Lincoln. “There is beauty in imperfection.” Martinii et.al. Go Buc’s………

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
awwdembucs

IMO This will be a sloppy game. I’m hoping the Bucs win. Go Bucs

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Pete Wood

The Bucs are a good team, a very good team, with a turnover problem. More specifically Winston has a turnover problem. Bucs should win this game. Problem is they should have won several more games this season. Bucs should have beaten Houston, New York, Tennessee, and San Francisco. They should have at least eleven wins. They should be in the playoffs, but they have a top five QB with a turnover problem. This game is not meaningless. It means a lot to Winston. I’m not scared by the Falcons. Bucs dominated perhaps the top QB? WR combo in the league… Read more »

surferdudes

Be interesting to see how Atlanta comes out and plays now knowing their coach will be back. Who wins? Turnovers usually determine games so if the King of Turnovers hits the 30 mark, Bucs should lose. If not, we win.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
fredster

I want to pick Bucs but just not sure. If defense plays like last week we have good shot. Winston is wildcard and I think that thumb is an issue. His accuracy was improving but last week in addition to some crazy bad int’s he overthrew couple TDs. At the end of the day 8-8 does sound better to fans but honestly after few weeks nobody will remember or care. Still I always want them to win of course! I’ll be there and have to burn some Bucs bucks in the store. Lol. Last game and all. Rate this item:Thumb… Read more »

Captain Sly

Send a few cheers for me fredster, I Wish I could be there! Everybody keeps worrying about Winston’s turnovers and rightfully so, however for me this is about BA/Leftwich and how they have managed Winston and his turnovers this year. I have so many strong feelings about this that I won’t share right now but if the Bucs are going to win this game you have to limit Winston’s attempts. I say this every week that the key to our success is not on the right arm of Winston, but on how well Bowles and this defense can get after… Read more »

AlbJack65

Wish I could be there too. I can usually only afford one game per year. I do really good seats once a year. I support them as I can afford. Not really into “nose-bleed seats”.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
scubog

I bought all my stuff last week.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
swashbuckler2002

I think Winston has another 3 turnovers without Evans or Godwin. Falcons win by 7 or less.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
twspin

YOU.. My dear Sir was..Dead Right!
Although the 3 missed FG’s contributed significantly.
So I guess, Jameis had a partner in this one.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
swashbuckler2002

I’m a prognosticator I tells ya!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BUC-ASS-BOB

I think Bucs will play their hearts out to win, Winston will put his best effort forward, Arians will strategise like he is playing a playoff game, All hands on deck for the win.
I think De Falcons will play basic man to man and simple zones and play half-ass to improve the pick in the spring, they have a chance at a 6-7th pick with a loss Sunday.
If Bucs win all the usual ones will be calling for a 7-year extension for Winston!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
AlbJack65

Thank you Pewter Report staffer for your typical smarmy comment designed to generate controversy and conversation. Are you Mark Cook?

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BUC-ASS-BOB

Jameis Winston Highlight real, TD machine 8 Pick Six, 8 TD for the other team 30 Ints

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1euF6BFGnKI

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Guygadwa1005

I’m no professional prognosticator but since I am no Homer for Winston it was easy to predict each game and I was about 11-4 this season. My 1 biggest surprise wrong pick was vs the Rams but it was a close one. So seeing how all these Beat Writers are all having losing records in predicting the Bucs games I can only come up with 2 options: A-They truly believe that Arians was going to turn Winston around and kept buying into the hype each week so they kept picking the Bucs most weeks. or B-They want to be kept… Read more »

surferdudes

This is the most important game of the season. Another loss at home would be devastating to the handful of fans who show up today. A loss would mean another losing season, and wouldn’t help what must be low demand for season tickets. Another multi pick game for Jameis would be a hard sell for a big contract. Other players beside Jameis will actually have to preform in order to get resigned. The Falcons won’t be easing up for a better draft pick. Tanking in the NFL is a myth, what players put on film puts food on the table.… Read more »

AlbJack65

I could not agree with you more, surferdudes! Spot on.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Guygadwa1005

Of course I get one thumbs down when I pointed out reality and I now move to 12-4 on my picks for the Bucs this year and most of the Beat writers are Wrong again!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...