First NBC midseason Thursday nighter: Falcons at Bucs
ATLANTA (5-3) at TAMPA BAY (3-4)
Thursday, 8:25 p.m. EDT, NFL Network
OPENING LINE - Falcons by 2 1/2
RECORD VS. SPREAD - Atlanta 5-3, Tampa Bay 3-4
SERIES RECORD - Buccaneers lead 24-22
LAST MEETING - Buccaneers beat Falcons 31-24, Sept. 11
LAST WEEK - Falcons beat Packers 33-32; Buccaneers lost to Raiders 30-24, OT
AP PRO32 RANKING - Falcons No. 6, Buccaneers No. 25
FALCONS OFFENSE - OVERALL (1), RUSH (T14), PASS (1).
FALCONS DEFENSE - OVERALL (25), RUSH (11), PASS (T27).
BUCCANEERS OFFENSE - OVERALL (16), RUSH (12), PASS (21).
BUCCANEERS DEFENSE - OVERALL (26), RUSH (22), PASS (23).
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Buccaneers have won three straight in series between NFC South rivals, including on road in season opener. ... Falcons lead NFL in scoring (32.8 points per game), while Buccaneers are 25th in scoring defense (27.0). ... Falcons QB Matt Ryan leads NFL with 2,636 passing yards after throwing for 288 and three touchdowns, including winning 11-yarder in closing seconds last week against Green Bay. ... In past three games vs. Bucs, Ryan has averaged 333.3 yards per game while throwing for five TDs vs. two interceptions. ... WR Julio Jones has 43 receptions for 859 yards and four TDs. He has seven TD catches and averaged 110.6 receiving yards per game in nine career meetings with Bucs. ... Bucs are 0-3 at home, compared to 3-1 on road. ... QB Jameis Winston arguably had best game of year vs. Falcons, completing 71.9 percent of passes for 281 yards, four TDs and one interception in opener. ... In three career games vs. Atlanta, second-year pro has thrown six TD passes vs. two interceptions, winning all three starts. ... WR Mike Evans has six TD receptions in his last seven games. ... RB Jacquizz Rodgers, who played first four years of his career with Atlanta, injured left foot during last Sunday's loss to Oakland. Bucs could wind up with fourth starting RB of season. Ex-Falcons RB Antone Smith and rookie Peyton Barber are possibilities if Rodgers doesn't play. RB Mike James signed with team this week. ... Former Falcons coach Mike Smith is Bucs defensive coordinator, working under Coach Dirk Koetter, who was Smith's offensive coordinator in Atlanta for three seasons. ... Bucs yielded 626 yards last week to Raiders, including 513 passing. ... Fantasy Tip: Jones has four 100-yard games this season - 32 total - and is facing secondary that struggled last week against Oakland's Amari Cooper (12 receptions, 173 yards, one TD) and Michael Crabtree (eight catches, 108 yards).
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