Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5) vs. Atlanta Falcons (4-11)
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
When: Sunday, Jan. 3 at 1:00 P.M. ET
Odds: Tampa Bay is favored by 7 points, with the over/under set at 50 points according to OddsShark.
Series history: The Falcons own an all-time 28-26 record against the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay defeated Atlanta the last time the two teams faced off in Week 15, by a score of 31-27.
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- Game preview
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- Ronald Jones "looked great" in return to practice
- Carlton Davis will be a "game-time decision," listed as doubtful
- Todd Bowles cleared to coach on Sunday after COVID-19 scare
- Rob Gronkowski is "hitting his stride," says Arians
One week removed from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' first postseason appearance since 2007, the Bucs look to fend off the Atlanta Falcons in order to clinch the No. 5 seed.
The last time these two teams met, just two weeks ago, it was far from easy-going for Tampa Bay. The Falcons climbed to a 17-point halftime lead over the Bucs and quarterback Tom Brady and company were forced to play from behind for the majority of the game. The Bucs pulled off the comeback to win by a score of 31-27.
Atlanta is out of the playoffs and doesn't have much to play for, other than as a spoiling team that could be motivated to put the Bucs in a lower playoff seed. The Falcons also interviewed interim head coach Raheem Morris for the full-time job, so perhaps his players want to send him out on top before the Falcons officially decide on a new head coach.
That shouldn't overcome the Bucs' motivation to face the No. 4 seed in the NFL playoffs, which will be represented by an NFC East team that is guaranteed to enter the playoffs with a losing record as divisional champions. Even with several key defenders out in linebackers Devin White and Shaq Barrett, and likely cornerback Carlton Davis III as well, the Bucs could look to score early and score often to build a comfortable lead over Atlanta and hold onto it until the end.