Our Falcons vs Buccaneers preview dives into game info for Sunday’s game, examines odds and reviews all the matchup that will decide this NFC South clash.
Falcons vs Buccaneers: What you need to know
- The Buccaneers host the Falcons at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday, September 19 at 4:05 p.m. EST on FOX.
- Sportsnaut says the Buccaneers win, 35-24
- Odds: The Buccaneers are a 4.5-point favorite with the over/under set at 52 points.
Let’s dive into the key Falcons vs Buccaneers matchups that will decide Sunday’s game
Matt Ryan vs Tom Brady
Ryan might be one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s certainly not the MVP-caliber passer we saw a few seasons ago, but his numbers are really impressive when you remember he hasn’t had a great play-caller since Kyle Shanahan. While head coach Arthur Smith might not be quite on that level, he can unlock top-10 play from Ryan.
There’s not much else that can be said about Brady. He defies Father Time, he looks just as good as his MVP seasons a decade ago, he is a seven-time Super Bowl champion. Week 1 proved he is still an elite quarterback and his numbers will be even better against the Falcons’ defense.
- Hunter: Tom Brady owns the Atlanta Falcons. He is a perfect 7-0 when facing this team and his numbers tell you exactly why he is undefeated. Against the Falcons’ defense, Brady owns a 115.8 passer rating with a stellar 17-2 TD-INT ratio and averages 318.7 yards per game.
- Hot Start: It should come as no surprise the quarterback whose first NFL pass went for a touchdown is excellent in the first quarter. Ryan boasts a 67.9% completion rate and 101.6 passer rating in his career during the first quarter. Just keep in mind, his passer rating falls nearly 6 points in the second half.
Advantage: Tom Brady
Falcons’ secondary vs Buccaneers’ wide receivers
The Falcons’ offense is going to be fun to watch this season, but the same can’t be said about their defense. Atlanta’s secondary allowed the sixth-highest passer rating (101.7) and the most passing yards per game (293.6). There’s very little to suggest we’ll see significant improvement in 2021.
Pick your poison against the Buccaneers. Dallas put Trevon Diggs on Mike Evans and he did a phenomenal job blanketing Tampa Bay’s No. 1 receiver. It didn’t stop the Bucs. Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown are outstanding weapons and could be No. 1 weapons on a few teams. There’s a reason Brady picked this team.
- Slot Machine: Defenses can focus their attention on Mike Evans and even send some help towards Brown, but that still leaves Godwin. According to Next Gen Stats, he has the third-most receiving yards in the slot (1,571) since 2019.
- Bird Watch: If there’s any hope for the Falcons’ secondary to turn things around quickly, it will require a huge leap from A.J. Terrell. The 16th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Atlanta’s 6-foot-1 cornerback is headed for a long day against Mike Evans.
Advantage: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buccaneers’ pass rush vs Falcons’ offensive line
If you’re looking for the biggest mismatch in the Falcons vs Buccaneers game, this is it. Atlanta’s offensive line ranks near the bottom of the league entering the season and there are very few starters Ryan can feel safe behind. That’s a big problem against a defense that finished with the second-most quarterback hits (116) and posted the third-highest pressure rate (27.5%) last season.
- Florida Heat: Everyone knows defensive coordinator Todd Bowles loves to turn up the heat on an opposing quarterback. When Matt Ryan arrives in Florida, he’ll face a pass rush that generated 17 total pressures (Next Gen Stats) on Dak Prescott in Week 1.
- Broken Wing: The Buccaneers will create a ton of interior penetration and send inside blitzes against the Falcons. But the most exploitable spot on Atlanta’s offensive line is right tackle Kaleb McGary. A first-round pick in 2019, McGary allowed 30 pressure and received a 58.5 PFF pass-blocking grade last year.
Advantage: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The bottom line: The Falcons vs Buccaneers highlights will be fantastic. Kyle Pitts should make a few plays in his regular-season debut, Ryan will throw some dimes to Calvin Ridley and Atlanta will put up some points. But the Buccaneers are far more talented on both sides of the ball and that results in a double-digit victory.