Atlanta is long gone from the playoff race while the Buccaneers can win or lose are still heading into the postseason for the first time since 2007.
While this game doesn’t really change much for either team, Tampa’s head coach Bruce Arians made it clear he isn’t going to take it easy on Atlanta or rest his starters.
“We’re going to play to win,” Arians said via NBC Sports.
Arians is aiming for the highest potential playoff seed he can get at the No. 5 spot which would give Tampa a bye week before having to take on the NFC East champs. They’ll do this by beating Atlanta on Sunday.
No Surprise on Sunday, the Falcons “Falconed” and what could have been a game-tying 39-yard field goal, was missed by newly named Pro Bowl kicker, Younghoe Koo. It was quite a surprise since it marked just Koo’s second missed field goal out of 37 attempts this year. This also was Atlanta’s eighth time this season blowing a 6-point or more lead.
The Falcons lost 17-14 to the defending Super Bowl champs, the Kansas City Chiefs, but that was still pretty impressive. Under interim head coach Raheem Morris, the Falcons defense has been getting better week by week. What’s recently been concerning is on the offensive side of the ball that has been battling injuries all season. Running back Todd Gurley’s role has decreased and Julio Jones hasn’t played in three weeks due to a hamstring injury. Also, All-Pro center Alex Mack has been sidelined with a concussion.
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Tampa blew Detroit out of the water early last week and Tom Brady sat the second half of the game which led the people wondering if he would sit this week. But, that’s definitely not going to happen this week.
The Bucs enter Week 17 coming off a three-game victory streak. Brady made history in the 47-7 win and completed 22 of 27 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns in just the first half of the game. Tampa Bay led 34-0 at the half. Brady’s play ended Tampa’s playoff drought.
The last time these two teams played each other the Bucs won 31-27. Atlanta was able to hold Tom Brady and his weapons to zero points in the first half but then they came back out firing after the half.
While the Falcons don’t have much to play for since out of playoff contention, Raheem Morris won’t let the Falcons fall back on this one. And, obviously, a win over Tom Brady would give them and Falcons fans a sense of hope for next season. Atlanta could even get the best of both worlds if they win too since they already have sealed a top 5 spot in the upcoming draft.