Week 15 will wrap up in Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football with the 8-5 Atlanta Falcons taking on the 4-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their 2nd NFC South clash of the season. The Falcons will be looking to keep their position as the 6 seed in the NFC seeding while the Bucs will be looking to spoil those hopes and play for their own pride. Now here’s what to watch for on Monday Night Football.
1. Jameis Winston Vs Falcons Defense
This will be Jameis Winston’s first game against the Falcons and is coming off a game where he threw for 285 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 interceptions. He’ll need to keep the turnovers at a minimum if he wants any chance of winning the game. He’ll be facing a Falcons defense that ranks 6th in passing yards per game allowed (211.5) so he may have trouble throwing against them on Monday Night.
2. Matt Ryan Vs Bucs Defense
Matt Ryan will be looking to have a repeat performance as his first game against the Bucs as he threw for 317 passing yards and 1 TD. The matchup is favorable for him because the Bucs defense ranks dead last in passing yards per game allowed (276.1). Given that the Bucs defense is the worst against the pass, expect Ryan to have similar success and expect Julio Jones to get a lot of targets in this game as well.
3. Both Teams Run Games
In their first encounter, the Falcons ran for 148 yards without Devonta Freeman. Now the Falcons will be without Tevin Coleman, who gashed the Bucs for 97 yards and 2 TDs. The Falcons are looking to run all over the Bucs like they did in the first game against this Bucs run defense that ranks 17th against the run (113.2). The Bucs only managed to run for 94 yards against the Falcons and Doug Martin was the leading rusher with 33 yards. The Bucs know they need to run the ball to take pressure off Winston, but it won’t be easy as they face a Falcons defense that ranks 12th against the run (108.3). Odds are the Falcons have more success running the ball and not the Bucs.
Bold Prediction: Matt Ryan throws for 350 yards while the run game racks up 150 yards on the ground.