When the Atlanta Falcons play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Monday night, there will be plenty at stake for both teams. The difference is that the things at stake for Atlanta are tangible, and for Tampa Bay, they really are not.
For Atlanta, a win puts them at 9-5, still firmly in the thick of the playoff race in the NFC, and in excellent position to make the postseason if they win out. It will be another notch on the belt in the NFC South, where they can go 5-1 for the second straight year under Dan Quinn and company. And it’s yet another blow against a lot of former coaches and players from Atlanta.
For Tampa Bay, it’s revenge, pride, and a desire to keep coaches and players in jobs. Dirk Koetter is firmly on the hot shot, and while Mike Smith may escape to the New York Giants, Koetter is in real danger of getting fired. This team also badly needs the morale boost after they were blown off the field by Julio Jones and beaten handily by the Falcons last time these two teams met. There are no playoff implications to speak of because Tampa Bay is more or less toast in that regard.
So the stakes are high here, and it should be a quality game with the Buccaneers hosting. I’m hopeful Atlanta will dispatch them easily and be ready for their final two matchups against the Saints and Panthers, but things rarely go that smoothly.
Here’s what you’ll need to know to watch.
Falcons - Bucaneers Monday Night Football info
When: Monday, December 18, 8:30 p.m. EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
SB Nation Opponent Site: Bucs Nation