Sunday’s game is drastically lacking the intrigue anticipated when the schedule-makers finished the year with the NFC South tilt. The Buccaneers have locked up the NFC South with no shot at improving its seeding. The Falcons have locked up an early offseason with only two things at play: beating Tom Brady for the first time ever and getting the best draft pick possible.
For Tampa, the only thing actually at stake would be a moral victory, perhaps more so with two former Falcons who would like to get a victory over their old team. Both Julio Jones and Russell Gage missed the last battle. Both players, formerly stars in Atlanta, have struggled in Tampa. Gage enters the game with a mere 411 receiving yards in 12 games. Jones has only 299 receiving yards in 10 games.
Jones won’t get the chance to show Atlanta what he’s still got. Gage has the opportunity.
The Falcons ruled out the following players from Sunday’s game:
- TE Feleipe Franks
- CB Rashad Fenton
- S Micah Abernathy
- OLB David Anenih
- G Elijah Wilkinson
- DL Jalen Dalton
No surprises from the Falcons. Matt Hennessy, a center drafted from the former regime, gets another shot at blocking at guard.
The Buccaneers ruled out the following players from Sunday’s game:
- WR Julio Jones
- CB Carlton Davis III
- S Logan Ryan
- S Mike Edwards
- DT Vita Vea
- T Donovan Smith
- OLB Carl Nassib
Tampa’s inactives are like the team: a bunch of big names who aren’t going to do much. Tampa is down a lot of “top” players, but the team didn’t do a lot of winning even with them playing. Vea is arguably Tampa’s top defensive lineman while Smith is the team’s inconsistent but starting tackle.
Generally, good news for the Falcons, but in Week 18, both teams must be struggling to get amped for this one.