Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After a mini skid, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have bounced back with consecutive wins. Running back Leonard Fournette played the role of hero in Sunday’s 38-31 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Tampa Bay will be a in a dome for the second straight week on Sunday as it visits the Atlanta Falcons. The Buccaneers will arrive with an 8-3 record. After a 1-3 start, Atlanta has propelled itself into the playoff race with a 5-6 record.
The Buccaneers won the first meeting between the teams back in September, 48-25. The Falcons made things interesting late in the third quarter, but a pair of interception returns for a touchdown by Mike Edwards put the contest away.
Quarterback Tom Brady, the ageless wonder, leads the Tampa Bay offense. Brady is just 10 yards shy of the league lead in passing yards and owns an NFL-best 30 touchdown passes. The Buccaneers are loaded around Brady, but they are hardly at full strength. Tight end Rob Gronkowski just returned from injury last week while Antonio Brown and Mike Evans will serve 3-game suspensions.
Defensively, it has been a struggle for Atlanta. Only the New York Jets allow more points per game. Foyesade Oluokun headlines that side of the football for the Falcons. He ranks third in the NFL with 120 total tackles.
Tampa Bay won’t be the only team with a veteran quarterback on Sunday. 36-year-old Matt Ryan is a shell of his former self, but when he throws for 300 yards this season, the Falcons are 3-1. Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts and versatile Cordarrelle Patterson are the guys to watch at the playmaking positions.
The Buccaneers are in the top 10 in total defense and allow 23 points per game. Shaquil Barrett is the top pass rusher for the Buccaneers. Levonte Davis and Devin White make for a talented pair of linebackers.
Overall, Tampa Bay has won three straight meetings between the teams. Sunday’s contest at Mercedes-Benz Stadium begins at 1 p.m. ET and airs regionally on FOX.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 30, Atlanta 20
Other Games Across the State
New York Giants (4-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-7)
Sunday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
The Miami Dolphins will go for their fifth straight win on Sunday after a 1-7 start. Rookies Jaylen Waddle and Jaelen Phillips each had monster games last week in a 33-10 win over the Carolina Panthers. The New York Giants are likely to be without starting quarterback Daniel Jones.
Prediction: Miami 24, N.Y. Giants 13
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) at Los Angeles Rams (7-4)
Sunday, Dec. 5 at 4:05 p.m. (FOX)
The Los Angeles Rams have lost three straight games after a 7-1 start. A home date with the Jacksonville Jaguars should provide the Rams a chance to get back on track. Jacksonville has lost 15 straight games to NFC teams.
Prediction: L.A. Rams 41, Jacksonville 17
Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.