Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Matchup Preview (1/3/21): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)
The last time the Falcons took on the Buccaneers, Tom Brady rallied Tampa Bay back from two 17-point deficits on their way to a 31-point victory. The Bucs are 10-5 and have clinched a spot in the postseason, but they’re not expected to rest key players as Tampa is still jockeying for positioning in the NFC. The Falcons will be motivated to play spoiler to a division rival this week. For odds movement and full matchup history, visit the Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Matchup Page.
Date: Sunday, January 3th, 2021
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium – Tampa Bay, FL
TV Coverage: FOX
Falcons vs. Buccaneers Live Stream
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Atlanta Falcons: WR Julio Jones (hamstring) Q, DT Marlon Davidson (knee) Q, C Alex Mack (concussion) Q, OG James Carpenter (groin) Q, DB Darqueze Dennard (quadriceps) Q, RB Ito Smith (ribs) Q, WR Brandon Powell (foot) Q, DE John Cominsky (shoulder) Q, LB Foye Oluokun (ankle) Q, DE Charles Harris (personal) Q, TE Luke Stocker (elbow) Q, DB Jordan Miller (oblique) Q, WR Olamide Zaccheaus (toe) IR eligible to return
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Leonard Fournette (abdomen) Q, RB Ronald Jones (finger) Q, LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) Q, DE Jeremiah Ledbetter (calf) Q, CB Carlton Davis (groin) Q, S Mike Edwards (hip) Q, S Justin Evans (foot) Q, WR Cyril Grayson (undisclosed) O
Atlanta Falcons Analysis
Matt Ryan ranks fourth in the NFL with 4,316 passing yards and has 24 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. However, his passer rating of just 93.0 ranks just 24th in the NFL. The Falcons’ offensive line has allowed 2.7 sacks per game, the eighth-most in the NFL, so Ryan’s efficiency has suffered as a result. He’s been much better with Julio Jones in the lineup, but Jones has only played in 9 games and may not be back with the team next season.
Calvin Ridley has stepped up as one of the most consistent wideouts in the game in Jones’s absence. Ridley has registered 82 catches for 1,322 yards and 9 touchdowns this season. The third-year receiver is one of fantasy football‘s most consistent weapons, and he’s surpassed 100 receiving yards in four straight games. Russell Gage has 63 catches for 695 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Hayden Hurst has 52 catches for 543 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The Falcons’ rushing offense has struggled all season as the team has run for just 93.7 yards per game, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. Todd Gurley has struggled in his first year with the team, running for just 3.5. YPC, and while he has 9 rushing touchdowns, he’s run for just 660 yards. Ito Smith has become more involved in recent weeks, and his 4.3 YPC clip is much better, but he has just one rushing touchdown this year.
Atlanta’s defense has been hit-or-miss all season, as they have allowed 392.6 yards from scrimmage per game, the fifth-most, but they rank middle-of-the-pack with 24.7 points per game allowed. Grady Jarrett has been a dominant presence in the middle of the defensive line. It has helped the Falcons produce an above-average run defense along with great sideline-to-sideline play from Deion Jones. Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal have been a consistently solid pairing at safety as well. Still, the team’s lack of edge rushers and cornerbacks have contributed to them allowing 287.1 passing yards per game, the second-most in the NFL.
Atlanta Falcons Depth Chart
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Analysis
It’s time we take a step back and appreciate the brilliance of this season for Tom Brady. Very few quarterbacks have been able to play into their mid-40s, and Brady is the only one to throw for 4,000+ yards in a season where he’s been over 40 years old – this is his fourth-straight year doing so. Brady has completed 65.9% of his passes for 4,234 yards and 36 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. His deep-ball passing may not be the same as it used to be, and that’s a high number of turnovers for a guy who has been one of the most efficient passers in football for the past two decades. Still, he deserves a ton of praise for putting together such a statistically impressive season at his age.
Of course, Brady hasn’t done it alone, as the Buccaneers feature some of the NFL’s most pass-catching talents. Mike Evans has caught 67 balls for 960 yards and 13 touchdowns, Chris Godwin has 60 catches for 707 yards and 5 touchdowns, and Antonio Brown has 34 catches for 345 yards and 2 scores in just seven games. Rob Gronkowski has been rejuvenated this season, as well, with 43 catches for 594 yards and 7 scores. This receiving corps is one of the best in the NFL.
Tampa’s run game has been excellent as well. Ronald Jones has 180 carries for 900 yards and 6 touchdowns so far, giving him the 13th-most rushing yards in the NFL. Leonard Fournette has registered 92 carries for 354 yards and 6 touchdowns of his own. Both Jones and Fournette are injured, so it’s unclear if either will take the field this week. Rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn saw his most involvement of the season last week with 69 yards from scrimmage on 16 touches, and he would be involved again if either Jones or Fournette is unable to play.
Defensively, Tampa has been one of the best units in the NFL. They have allowed just 21.9 points per game, the seventh-fewest, and 323.3 yards per game, the sixth-fewest. Their front seven has been particularly stout in featuring Jason Pierre-Paul, William Gholston, Ndomakung Suh, Devin White, and Lavonte David. That group has enabled Tampa to allow just 3.5 YPC, the fewest in the NFL, and register 47 sacks, the third-most. Jamel Dean, Jordan Whitehead, and rookie safety Antonie Winfield have locked down the secondary, as well.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Depth Chart
Spread: Buccaneers -6.5, Falcons +6.5
Moneyline: Buccaneers -300, Falcons +250
Over/Under: 50.5 points
The Buccaneers aren’t expected to be resting any key starters this week, and I’m expecting Tom Brady to torch the Falcons’ pass defense. However, with Atlanta’s ability to defend the run and Tampa’s top two running backs injured, the Bucs could be a bit one-dimensional. We saw that lack of run game hurt them the last time these teams played, and that would be enough for me to push toward the under on a low points total. However, I’m confident in Tampa’s ability to cover the spread and put an exclamation point on a tremendous season of progress for this team as they head into their first playoff berth since 2007.
My predictions: Buccaneers win 27-20, Buccaneers cover, under 50.5 points
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Daily Fantasy Picks
Tom Brady is a great value play for cash lineups in DFS this week in a plus matchup against the Falcons’ secondary, but he doesn’t quite provide the type of upside that I’m looking for in tournaments. It’s possible that one of Evans, Godwin, or Brown reaches the end zone and has a great game, but it’s been hard to predict which of the trio of stud receivers will get the fantasy production in a given week. Rob Gronkowski makes for an enticing play in a plus matchup with a limited tight end surplus. Ke’Shawn Vaughn would be an interesting low-priced RB option for tournaments if Jones and Fournette can’t play. On the other side of the ball, the only Falcons player I’m really targeting in this matchup is Calvin Ridley, with his consistent play as of late. Matt Ryan has too much downside for DFS, and the Atlanta run game has been nonexistent, making Todd Gurley and Ito Smith firmly off the radar for me.