The Falcons will try to avoid being swept by Tom Brady and the Buccaneers for the second year in a row on Sunday, which hasn’t been done in the two decades they’ve been in the NFC South. Tampa Bay is coming off a big road win over the Colts, where they’ve struggled for much of 2021. Todd Bowles‘ defense forced five turnovers, which helped erase a 10-point first-half deficit. Leonard Fournette totaled four touchdowns, three on the ground, matching his season total of rushing touchdowns and also notching a new career-high in total touchdowns. The Falcons are coming off a road win of their own, but unlike their division rivals, Atlanta has been great playing on the road while struggling at Mercedes-Benz Stadium — 1-4 so far this season at home.
The Falcons were swallowed by Tampa the first time around in Week 2 at Raymond James Stadium to the tune of 48-25. Brady threw five touchdown passes, including two to Rob Gronkowski and Mike Evans, while Mike Edwards returned two interceptions for pick-sixes. Cordarrelle Patterson scored twice, once on a 10-yard run and the other a seven-yard reception. The Falcons’ offense didn’t inspire much confidence against Jacksonville, but Patterson is the constant. He had another two touchdowns against the Jaguars, but this time, both were on the ground. The 30-year-old Swiss Army Knife set career-highs in rushes (16), yards (108), and touchdowns (2) on the ground as the Falcons moved within one game of a Wild Card spot. Patterson will be a crucial part in upsetting the division leaders; he’s totaled 776 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns so far this season.
On the other hand, Atlanta’s defense will be put to the test. Byron Leftwich has a plethora of weapons to get the ball to — Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, O.J. Howard, Rob Gronkowski, and Cameron Brate. It won’t be easy for a unit giving up the second-most points in the league heading into the matchup.
The Falcons enter Sunday as 10-point home underdogs, which really means the oddsmakers see the Bucs as nearly two touchdown favorites on a neutral field. Based on the results from the first game, I wouldn’t say that’s too far off. Atlanta will try to get their first win over Tom Brady, but adjustments are paramount. The Bucs are hot; Lenny and Gronk are coming off their best performances of the season, while the Falcons defense is still shaky.
Matt Ryan finished with three interceptions when they faced the first time, even though the Bucs were missing several key starters in the secondary. This could spell an ugly one for Falcons fans. Atlanta will have to scratch and claw at every point of the game if they want to have a chance at the upset.
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