Buccaneers: Players that must be stopped to win the division

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1: Defensive end Robert Ayers
TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1: Defensive end Robert Ayers /
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Quarterback Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan has been a very good quarterback throughout his career, starting off by winning Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2008, MVP and Offensive Player of the Year last season while being selected to four Pro Bowls and guiding the Falcons to three NFC South titles, as well as two NFC Championship game appearances (winning one), and one Super Bowl appearance.

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Since his rookie year (2008) while playing against the Bucs he has a record of 11-7 (.611) with 385 completions out of 575 attempts (67%), 4447 yards (247 avg/game), 27 touchdowns, fifteen interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 96.5.

His last three season his numbers have really blown up while playing the Bucs with 160 completions out of 218 attempts (73%), 1,849 yards (308 avg/game), thirteen touchdowns, two interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 106.6.

During those three great seasons against the Bucs though the only has a .500 record (3-3).

Slowing down “Matty Ice” would really give the Bucs a better chance to win the division.

Wide Receiver Julio Jones

After the Falcons traded away five total draft picks in 2011 (including two first round picks) to move up and select Julio Jones in hopes the he would be a top-tier receiver, he has not disappointed and in fact has become a top-tier receiver, being selected to four Pro Bowls in his six seasons.

Since entering the league he has basically been a Bucs killer. While playing in ten games (missed 2013 match up with injury) he has a total of 68 receptions for 1,106 yards (110.6 avg/game) and eight touchdowns.

With the last three great seasons by “Matty Ice” his numbers have also been some of the best of his career including against the Bucs with 49 receptions for 712 yards (118.7 avg/game) and five of his eight total touchdowns.

Bucs fans remember the Kwon Alexander strip made on him in November of 2015 in a 23-20 overtime victory.

The statistics show that in order to beat the Falcons this season the Bucs defense must contain Julio Jones and get more pass rush on Matty Ice so that he does not have all day in the pocket to find open receivers.