FROM WINNERSANDWHINERS.COM – Week 17 of NFL football continues as the Atlanta Falcons travel to Raymond James Stadium to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Dec. 29 at 1:00 P.M. This will be the second meeting between these two teams this season.
Falcons Look To Extend Winning Streak
Atlanta enters this game with a 6-9 record as it has had no shot at making the playoffs for the majority of the season. As of right now, the Falcons are in third place in the NFC South Division as they are guaranteed to finish the season with a losing record. However, Atlanta has actually played pretty well lately as it has won each of its last three games. In addition, each of those wins have come by at least seven points so the Falcons are actually in decent form headed into this regular season finale. Even though this game does not mean much for the franchise, it could be the last game of Coach Quinn’s tenure with the organization with his job currently being in jeopardy.
Leading the Falcons offensively is quarterback Matt Ryan who has been pretty good this season as he has 4,153 passing yards along with 25 passing touchdowns. However, he has thrown 14 interceptions so he has had serious issues when it comes to ball security which has definitely impacted some games over the course of this season.
Defensively, Atlanta has been underwhelming up to this point in the regular season. The Falcons are allowing 25.1 points per game which ranks 22nd in the league. In addition, the Falcons are allowing 357.6 yards per game which ranks 19th in the league. However, the defense has actually played much better over these past few weeks to it will look to continuing playing well on Sunday.
Tampa Bay Looks For A Rare Home Win
Bruce Arians has the Buccaneers in decent form headed into this game. The Buccaneers have a 7-8 record which is good enough to put them in second place in the NFC South. However, Tampa Bay enters this game on a bit of a somber note as it lost last week at home to Houston on Saturday. The Buccaneers would have had a much better season if they were actually able to win some home games on a regular basis. Entering this game, Tampa Bay has lost five of its first seven home games and it will have the opportunity to pick up a rare home win on Sunday against a division rival.
Tampa Bay’s offense is led by quarterback Jamesis Winston who has been extremely unpredictable this season. He has thrown for 4,908 passing yards and 31 passing touchdowns. However, he has also thrown a whopping 28 interceptions which is the most in the entire league. Now, Winston will look to avoid committing any turnovers in this game.
Defensively, Tampa Bay has been below average up to this point. The Buccaneers are allowing 28.1 points per game which is the third-most in the entire league. In addition, the Buccaneers are allowing 342.0 yards per game which ranks 15th in the league. Now, Tampa Bay will look for a solid defensive performance in this regular season finale at home.
These two teams have looked below average all season long but Atlanta enters this game on a three-game winning streak while Tampa Bay enters this game following a loss so I have to take the road team in this game. Plus, Tampa Bay is dealing with some injuries to key wide receivers so its offense should struggle a bit more than people anticipate against Atlanta’s defense which has played really well lately. This game should be close throughout but I think that Atlanta will win the turnover battle en route to a victory. Give me the road team.
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons +1
Written By Scott Reichel
Scott Reichel is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate with an insane passion for sports. His commitment to endlessly researching statistics helps separate him from other handicappers with regard to MLB, NBA, NCAAB, NCAAF, NHL and NFL coverage. Scott also shares his passion for sports on StatSalt’s YouTube page where he does a daily show called Scott’s Selections.