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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Bucs to Watch vs. Atlanta

A couple Bucs to watch as they take on the division-rival Atlanta Falcons this Sunday.


  1. DT Gerald McCoy**
    Gerald McCoy gets to Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan. He's registered five sacks on the Atlanta signal caller, the most he has against any one team. The Bucs' pass rush has struggled this season, but seemed to get going the past two games. McCoy had a significant outing in Miami, sacking quarterback Matt Moore once and recording seven combined tackles on the day. This followed a two-sack outing against the New York Jets at home in Week 10. Since 2013, McCoy has the most sacks of any defensive tackle in the league with 38.5. He'll look to get after a familiar quarterback this weekend and add to that total.

2. S T.J. Ward
The veteran safety will be playing against his younger brother, running back Derron Ward. Derron stepped up for an injured Devonta Freeman on Monday night in Seattle and averaged 5.2 yards a carry against the Seahawks. On the defensive side, T.J. has 11 tackles and three assists against Atlanta in his career. Atlanta's Freeman is still in concussion protocol so it's most likely Derron will be called upon again on Sunday. With the two brothers presumably on the field at the same time, playing on opposite sides of the ball, it will be a fun matchup to watch in Atlanta.


A look back at all of the matchups between the Buccaneers and the Falcons.

  1. The Bucs' offensive line**
    Protecting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will need to be a focus for the offensive line on Sunday. The Falcons have the league's fourth-best sack total this season, taking the quarterback down 29.0 times through Week 11. Atlanta possesses a strong defensive front that the line will have to matchup against, starting with defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who has 8.0 sacks so far in 2017. The offensive line will also have to open up running lanes to get Tampa Bay's ground game going – something the team has struggled with this season. The Bucs will need to have offensive balance against a top 10 team like Atlanta in order to be successful, especially on the road.

4. CB Brent Grimes
Cornerback Brent Grimes and the rest of the secondary will need to have an answer to Falcons' receiver Julio Jones. While a familiar foe, Jones seems to evade defenders, overcoming any attempted coverage even against division opponents. In 10 games against the Buccaneers, Jones has 68 catches on 98 targets for 1,106 yards and eight touchdowns. The receiver is averaging 14.6 yards per catch this season and has a total of 786 yards in 2017. The good news is that it may be a new stadium, but Atlanta is familiar for Grimes, who was drafted by the Falcons and spent the first six seasons of his career with the team. His athleticism will be needed against Jones and if he can create turnovers for the Bucs defense as he has been, he could prove to be a real difference maker.

5. WR Mike Evans
The big-man receiver was quietly involved against Miami this past Sunday, nabbing five catches for 92 yards, but not quite getting into the end zone. Atlanta will be a familiar opponent for Evans, and one he has played well against. In the Buccaneers and Falcons last meeting in Week 9 of 2016, Evans had 11 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns on Thursday Night Football. Over the course of his career, Evans has 35 receptions for 535 yards and five touchdowns in six games against the Falcons. Look for him to continue that success in Atlanta this Sunday.

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