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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Matchups: Bucs-Falcons

Gerald McCoy missed the Bucs' first game against Atlanta this year, which the Falcons won handily, but he was a thorn in Matt Ryan's side in last year's second meeting

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7) will take on the Atlanta Falcons (2-6) on Sunday at Raymond James Staduim in Tampa. Here are several matchups between individual players and/or certain team units that could go a long way towards determining the game's final outcome:

CB Johnthan Banks vs. WR Julio Jones
The matchups this week are fairly straightforward in what could be a very offensively-driven game. In the first meeting, Jones had 161 receiving yards and two touchdowns. With CB Alterraun Verner doubtful to play, second-year CB Johnthan Banks, coming off his best game of the season, may be asked to shadow Jones.

Buccaneers RBs vs. LB Paul Worrilow
With Doug Martin unlikely to play as well, Bobby Rainey should get the start for the second week in a row, with support from the expected NFL debut of rookie Charles Sims. Rainey had success last week with 100+ yards from scrimmage in the first half alone, and this week he faces an Atlanta defense that has allowed 128 rushing yards per game and a league-high 13 rushing touchdowns. Worrilow leads the Falcons defense with 78 tackles and two forced fumbles.


RB Bobby Rainey surpassed 100 yards from scrimmage last Sunday for the third time this season

LB Lavonte David vs. RB Antone Smith
Steven Jackson, who leads the team with 95 carries for 345 yards, should see the bulk of the work, but Smith has been the Falcons' home run hitter this season with 360 yards and five touchdowns on just 31 touches. David leads the league in tackles per game and will be a key factor in keeping the Falcons from establishing the run or breaking a big one.

WRs Vincent Jackson & Mike Evans vs. CBs Desmond Trufant & Robert Alford
Both Bucs receivers look to build upon recent successes against a defense allowing 280.8 passing yards per game. Evans has at least four receptions in every game he's played, making him one of just six players and the lone rookie to do so this year. Jackson has terrorized the Falcons since 2012, leading all players vs. Atlanta in receptions, yards, TDs and first downs and ranking second in receptions and yards per game.

DT Gerald McCoy vs. QB Matt Ryan
In the first meeting this year (a game in which McCoy was inactive), Ryan completed 87.5% of his passes with three TDs. In the Bucs' home win last year vs. Atlanta, McCoy had three sacks and the pressure led to two Ryan picks. McCoy's presence and an improved pass rush could determine which of those two games this one most ends up like.

Bucs Right O-Line vs. DE Jonathan Massaquoi
The Falcons' D-Line has just five sacks this season, but three of them came in the game against the Bucs. According to Pro Football Focus, RG Patrick Omameh and RT Demar Dotson each gave up a sack in the game. The two linemen will look for retribution on their home field, particularly against Massaquoi, who leads Atlanta with two sacks this season.

Gerald McCoy missed the Bucs' first game against Atlanta this year, which the Falcons won handily, but he was a thorn in Matt Ryan's side in last year's second meeting

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