The 8-5 Atlanta Falcons will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the 4-9 Buccaneers in this week’s Monday night matchup. These two teams are headed in different directions and last week was no different. Atlanta won its 4th game in 5 weeks with an impressive 20-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints. This was a big NFC South Game as Atlanta is now 1 game behind the first place Saints and their playoff hopes are still very much alive. Tampa Bay lost their third game in a row with a 24-21 home loss to the Detroit Lions. The Buccaneers had started this season 2-1 but have lost 8 of their last 10 games and have no chance at a playoff birth.

The Falcons were able to beat the Saints last week despite a poor game from Matt Ryan who finished with a quarterback rating of 24. He completed 15 of his 27 passes for 221 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. His favorite target was Mohammed Sanu who had 6 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. Julio Jones also had a nice game with 5 catches for 98 yards. They had success running the ball gaining 133 yards. Devante Freeman led the team with 91 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. For the year, the Falcons offense has averaged 22.6 points and 373 yards per game. Defensively, they shut the Saints running game down allowing just 50 yards on 15 carries. They intercepted Drew Brees once and had 2 sacks. They did allow 7 different Saints receivers to make catches that gained at least 11 yards.

Jameis Winston committed 3 of the teams 5 turnovers last week with 2 interceptions and a lost fumble. He completed 26 of his 38 pass attempts for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns. His favorite target was Chris Godwin who 5 catches for 68 yards. They had success running the ball gaining 133 yards on 28 carries, which is an average of 4.8 yards per run. Defensively, they allowed the Lions to gain 434 yards including 381 in the air. They intercepted Matthew Stafford twice but weren’t able to sack him. They also had 4 tackles for losses and recovered a fumble. Against the run, they had success as the Lions gained just 53 yards on 18 carries. On the season, the Buccaneers have allowed their opponents to score 24 points and gain 397 yards per game.

Tampa Bay will have home field advantage and are 6.5-point underdogs in this game. They have gone 3-9-1 against the spread this season including 2-4 at home. The Falcons have gone 6-7 against the spread including 2-4 on the road. While Tampa Bay has been eliminated from the playoffs the Falcons control their own destiny. They can win the NFC South division outright if they are able to win all of 3 games left this season. Tampa Bay Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy hurt his biceps last week and didn’t return and is doubtful for this game.

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