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Julio Jones loves playing against the Bucs more than any other team

His career numbers against Tampa Bay are a sight to behold.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Julio Jones is on his way to a Hall of Fame career if all goes well. At his current pace, he should be top ten in receptions and receiving yards within three seasons, and even touchdowns are within reach in the next five years or so. There’s one team that seems to help him juice those numbers more than any other, though, and that just happens to be this week’s opponent.

As you might guess, Julio’s best numbers coming against the NFC South teams he plays the most often. What you might not guess is that the Buccaneers are far and away his favorite team to play against, and if he played them every single week, he’d be Jerry Rice on steroids. You might not guess that because some of his biggest, most memorable efforts have come at the expense of, say, the Panthers. Tampa Bay’s consistently terrible defense and truly awful secondary has been a godsend for Julio, who normally faces double coverage and basically gets a free pass for long stretches against the Bucs.

To wit:

Julio Jones Top 5 Splits by Team

Opponent Games Targets Receptions Yards Yard Per Reception Catch Rate Touchdowns Yards/Game
Opponent Games Targets Receptions Yards Yard Per Reception Catch Rate Touchdowns Yards/Game
Buccaneers 14 148 102 1695 16.6 68.90% 11 121.1
Saints 16 146 94 1482 15.8 64.40% 3 92.6
Panthers 14 134 77 1324 17.2 57.50% 6 94.6
Eagles 6 69 41 703 17.2 59.40% 5 117.2
Packers 5 46 28 518 18.5 69.90% 3 103.6

The number of ways in which this is astonishing are legion. Julio doesn’t have double digit touchdowns against any team except the Bucs, and he has 200 more yards against them than the Saints despite playing New Orleans two more times. If you extrapolated his 14 game performance against the Bucs over 16 games, it’d be easily his best season. He’s got to be licking his chops for this one, in other words.

With Austin Hooper out and Devonta Freeman not soaking up targets, don’t be surprised if Julio has his biggest game of the year against Tampa Bay. He may well break his latest scoreless streak along the way.