The 4-11 Atlanta Falcons will take the field one final time in 2020 as they take on the playoff-bound 10-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be playing for a better seed in the expanded playoff format.
The Bucs are headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 thanks to a high-flying passing offense and an opportunistic defense. Quarterback Tom Brady has had a great season, even in his old age and new offensive system. He’s throwing for close to 300 yards per game and has 36 passing touchdowns on the year to just 11 interceptions. The defense has played well too, allowing just 21 points per game. They also create a ton of turnovers, taking the ball away 23 times through the first 15 games of the season, which is good for fourth-most in the NFL.
The Falcons haven’t been terrible if you just look at stats this season, but Atlanta has had some of the craziest in-game collapses of 2020. In four games this season the Falcons have had a win probability of 95% or higher and have still found ways to lose the games. It’s honestly kind of impressive, actually. Quarterback Matt Ryan has played well, throwing for the same amount of yards each week as Brady. In the last matchup between these two teams, which was just a few weeks ago, Ryan threw for 356 yards and three touchdowns, Brady tossed for 390 yards and two scores. Atlanta was up 24-7 in the third quarter, but still found a way to lose it in the end.
Date: Sunday, Jan. 3
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Notable Statistical rankings (Football Outsiders)
Falcons: #17 Overall — #21 offense, #12 defense, #21 special teams
Bucs: #2 Overall — #4 offense, #4 defense, #26 special teams
DraftKings Sportsbook odds
Falcons: +6.5, +255
Bucs: -6.5, -305
Fantasy football start/sit advice
Calvin Ridley, WR $8,500
Tampa’s pass defense has been really quite bad in the final stretch of the season. Just a few weeks ago during the first meeting between these two teams, Ridley had 10 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown. Julio Jones has missed three straight games, so Ridley could see an increased workload too.
Matt Ryan, QB $5,900
Ryan has had some success this season despite the team’s record. He’s put up four games of 300 or more passing yards and one of 400+. Last time these two units faced off Ryan threw for three scores and well over 300 yards. Expect another big day for him against a susceptible pass defense.
Antonio Brown, WR $5,500
After a slow start, AB has come on strong now that he’s getting his feet underneath him in Tampa. He’s caught a touchdown in each of the last two games. In his previous game against Atlanta, Brown had five catches for 97 yards and a touchdown.
Rob Gronkowski, TE $4,500
The Falcons have a stout run defense, so you should stay far away from any of Tampa’s backs this week. So another under the radar player you could start is Gronk. He caught two touchdowns last week on his only two targets and will always be a security blanket for Brady in the red zone, even with Mike Evans taking some of those targets away.