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By the Numbers Stats Preview for Falcons at Buccaneers

How do these two NFC South teams stack up statistically ahead of Thursday Night Football?

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

This Thursday will feature a rematch between the NFC South’s top two teams: the Atlanta Falcons (5-3) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4). Tampa got the best of the Falcons in Week 1 on the back of a very sloppy, penalty-ridden game by the defense and an inefficient one by the offense.

Since that game, however, these two teams have taken very different paths. After the loss, many disheartened Falcons fans believed the team could fall to 0-6 or worse. Instead, the Falcons rebounded in a big way, showing off an explosive, league-leading offense against the toughest schedule in the league.

Meanwhile, Tampa scuffled mightily after that game. They’ve struggled to win games as QB Jameis Winston has been turnover-prone and their running game has suffered major injuries. Their defense is getting worse by the week, and they just allowed an Oakland Raiders team that committed an NFL-record 23 (!) penalties to defeat them in overtime and pass for over 500 yards.

The message is simple coming into this game: win, and you likely become the favorite to take the division. Let’s see how these two teams stack up statistically after eight weeks of NFL action.


Total Points/game: Falcons 32.8 (1st), Buccaneers 21.7 (19th)
Total Yards/game: Falcons 425.5 (1st), Buccaneers 351.7 (17th)
Passing Yards/game: Falcons 313.8 (2nd), Buccaneers 238.3 (21st)
Passing TDs: Falcons 19 (1st), Buccaneers 14 (T-10th)
Rushing Yards/game: Falcons 111.5 (T-14th), Buccaneers 113.4 (12th)
Rushing TDs: Falcons 8 (T-9th), Buccaneers 4 (T-23rd)
Third Down Efficiency: Falcons 40% (15th), Buccaneers 38% (19th)
Turnover Margin: Falcons +2 (T-10th), Buccaneers -2 (T-19th)


Total Points/game: Falcons 28.9 (29th), Buccaneers 27 (25th)
Total Yards/game: Falcons 379.2 (25th), Buccaneers 390.0 (26th)
Passing Yards/game: Falcons 285.4 (T-27th), Buccaneers 274.7 (23rd)
Passing TDs: Falcons 19 (T-30th), Buccaneers 14 (T-22nd)
Rushing Yards/game: Falcons 93.9 (11th), Buccaneers 115.3 (22nd)
Rushing TDs: Falcons 7 (T-18th), Buccaneers 7 (T-18th)
Third Down Efficiency: Falcons 43% (25th), Buccaneers 34% (5th)
Sacks: Falcons 18 (T-12th), Buccaneers 15 (T-19th)

The Falcons, as usual, dominate the offensive statistics. Atlanta continues to hold onto their #1 ranking in points/game, yards/game, and total passing TDs. They’re elite to above average in every major stat, placing no worse than 15th. Tampa, on the other hand, appears to be a mostly mediocre offense. Their only offensive advantage comes in rushing yards/game, where they lead Atlanta by a measly 1.9 yards.

On defense, the stats are more mixed. The Bucs are slightly better in points allowed and passing yards/TDs allowed, and are excellent on third down (34%, good for 5th in the league). Atlanta is better in total yardage and rushing yards/game, and have been more effective in creating sacks. Falcons fans will be happy to note that Atlanta is 12th in the league in sacks thus far with 18, after only creating 19 total in 2015.

Based on these stats, the Falcons clearly have the advantage on paper. Atlanta is vastly better on offense and should have little trouble moving the ball against an awful Bucs pass defense. The two teams are both equally bad in most respects on defense, which means that the offenses are likely to decide the outcome. Atlanta should be favored in pretty much any shootout with the #1 offense in the league.

Playing on Thursday Night Football generally means a sloppy game, but even if that happens, the Falcons are simply the better team. If Atlanta gets a win here, they’re firmly in control of the NFC South and will secure a 3-1 divisional record.

What do you think about the outcome of the game? Will Dan Quinn finally get a win against the Bucs? Are you expecting Falcons superstar RB Antone Smith to go off?