Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Falcons -6.5 | Over/Under: 48
Monday Night Football in Week 15 features an all NFC South clash. The Atlanta Falcons travel to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers have lost their last three games, sitting at 4-9 and last place in the division. The Falcons are still in the NFC Wild Card race. They have won four of their last five games, and have 8-5. The winners will take an overall lead in the series between these two teams. Both teams have won 24 games against the other. The Falcons won the last two meetings including a 34-20 victory last time thanks to the brilliance of Julio Jones. He caught 12 of 15 targets for 253 yards. He also scored two touchdowns. The magic number for the Buccaneers defense this week is 20. The Falcons are 8-0 this season in games in which they have eclipsed the 20 point mark.
Third-year quarterback Jameis Winston has not had a great season. He has 2475 passing yards and 14 touchdowns. But he has also thrown eight interceptions. Winston averages 271 passing yards in his last two games against the Falcons Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick has been pressed into relief on several occasions this year. He has 1103 passing yards. His seven touchdowns have come up against three interceptions.
Matt Ryan was the NFL MVP in 2016, but has not been as effective in 2017. He has 3278 passing yards and 17 touchdowns. But he has also thrown 11 interceptions. He only threw six last year. Ryan has thrown for more than 300 yards in his last three games against the Bucs. He has seven touchdowns and no interceptions in those games.
The Buccaneers running game has not been an area of strength in 2017. Doug Martin is their leading rusher with 402 yards, and has three rushing touchdowns. His yards have come at 3.1 yards per attempt. He has nine receptions for 84 yards. Martin has 163 yards from scrimmage from his last two games against the Falcons. Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers both average 3.8 yards per attempt. Barber has 248 yards and two touchdowns on his 65 rushes. 22 of his rushes have gained at least five yards. Rodgers has 242 and a single score on his 63. Barber, like Martin, has nine receptions on the year. He has 77 yards. Rodger’s seven grabs have brought him 54 yards. Charles Sims has only 19 rushing attempts this season. These have been good for 89 yards. He has 30 receptions for 224 yards and a touchdown in addition.
Devonta Freeman is the Falcons leading rusher this season. He has 680 yards from 152 rushing attempts. His six rushing touchdowns are a team high. He has also added 20 receptions for 144 yards. Freeman seems to enjoy NFC South matches. His last seven such games have seen him average almost 114 yards from scrimmage per game. Tevin Coleman is also an effective part of the offense. He trails only Freeman with 593 yards and five touchdowns. He has one more reception than Freeman with 21. These have brought him 245 yards and two touchdowns. While Freeman loves playing his division rivals, Coleman is a fan of Mondays. He has four rushing touchdowns in his last two games on Monday Night Football. Terron Ward has only 22 rushing attempts this season. He has 89 yards from these attempts.
Mike Evans is the Buccaneers leading receiver, in targets yards and receptions. He has been targeted 107 times, for 55 receptions and 760 yards, with four touchdowns. He has scored a touchdown in each of his last three home games against the Falcons. Evans has gone 17 regular season games since he last eclipsed 100 yards receiving. DeSean Jackson has 49 receptions for 657 yards in his first season with the team. He has scored three touchdowns. Jackson has eclipsed 100 receiving yards five times in his last six games on a Monday. There have been 46 receptions for Adam Humphries, but he has not scored once for his 435 yards. Rookie Chris Godwin has been targeted 35 times, and has 23 receptions for 298 yards. Like Humphries, he is yet to find the end zone this season.
The Falcons main weapon in the passing game is Julio Jones. He leads the team with 118 targets, 73 receptions and 1161 yards. His yardage total leads the NFC. He has only scored three touchdowns, however. He does have ten career touchdowns against the Bucs, and averages eight receptions a game against them. Fellow wide receiver Mohamed Sanu has 578 yards from 54 catches. He leads the team with five receiving scores. He has also thrown for a touchdown, a 51-yard score to Jones in the last meeting between these two. Taylor Gabriel has 30 catches for 342 yards and a touchdown. Justin Hardy has two touchdowns from his 15 receptions, but only 146 yards.
Tampa has two very productive tight ends in Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. Brate leads the team with six touchdown catches. His 14 touchdowns since the start of last season is the second most among NFL tight ends. Brate has 38 receptions for 492 yards, but only seven catches in his last six games. First-round draft pick Howard trails only Brate with five scores this season. He has 25 catches for 402 yards. Luke Stocker is primarily a blocker, and has just three catches this season. He has 18 yards and a touchdown.
Second-year player Austin Hooper has 461 yards from 41 receptions this season. 19% of these yards came on a single reception in Week 1 an 88-yard touchdown. He has scored three touchdowns. Fellow tight end Levine Toilolo has 12 catches this season. He has 122 receiving yards and one touchdown.
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