The Falcons could use a break after facing down two ferocious teams this month, and they luck out with facing the Buccaneers, who are pretty bumped and bruised on defense and lack an identity on offense despite fielding a solid roster. Division games aren’t a cake walk, but this one feels rather advantageous for Atlanta. This Bucs bout is the calm before the storm (season-closing games versus New Orleans and Carolina), but it’s also a situation the Falcons can’t afford to tarry in. Even with Tevin Coleman and Andy Levitre out, the team shouldn’t be too hamstrung to do what they’re capable of doing. It’s a should-win scenario, which would make a loss here catastrophic. Take care of business Monday, and get ready for the last two games.
Falcons 41 Buccaneers 20
The first go-around between these two divisional foes was headlined by Julio Jones bullying the Bucs secondary for 253 yards and two touchdowns while the offense recorded a season-high 516 total yards. This time around, the Bucs will be without their best defensive lineman (Gerald McCoy), their best linebacker (Lavonte David), and their best young corner (Vernon Hargreaves. Terrible news for a defense that is 31st overall and 23rd in points allowed. Forget about the Saints next week. This needs to be handled with a playoff-type mindset. Harass Jameis Winston and smother a Tampa defense that is a liability and the Falcons will find themselves 9-5 on the season.
Falcons 30 - Buccaneers 23
You have yourself a road game here for the Falcons, and I’m not expecting the kind of clean, impressive blowout that would give us too much confidence for the final two games. The Falcons just don’t operate like that.
A win, though? That seems more than reasonable, given both Tampa Bay’s health situation and struggles, and the fact that this Falcons team has gotten good enough to win these kinds of games and desperately needs to. Let’s not overthink this.
Falcons 28 - Buccaneers 17
The Bucs are too beat up to beat us, though I don’t know if we’ll have the offensive explosion we all desire. This is the last game the Falcons will have that won’t be a heart-wrecking stressfest. Everything after this is going to be an uphill battle that’ll have you drinking, swearing, and wishing you had a pillow to throw.