Thankfully, the Buccaneers (4-9) enter the final quarter of their season on Monday night when they host the division rival Falcons (8-5) at 8:30 p.m. Here, we preview the matchup and tell you where to watch and listen to it.
A lot will be going on at Raymond James Stadium on Monday night when the Buccaneers host the Falcons. Amidst speculation about being a potential replacement for Dirk Koetter, former Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden will be in attendance. He will be on the call with the Monday Night Football crew before being inducted into the franchise’s Ring of Honor at halftime. The crowd in Tampa will likely be more focused on Gruden’s return than the game itself.
The Bucs are looking to snap a three-game losing streak that started on Nov. 26 in Atlanta. All Tampa Bay can do at this point is play spoiler to its rivals, considering the final three games of the season are against NFC South opponents. The Bucs are coming off a 24-21 home loss to the Lions. In that game, they turned the ball over five times. Jameis Winston was responsible for three of those, but still managed to bring the team back from 21-7 to 21-21 with two late scoring drives. However, the defense couldn’t hold late and allowed a field goal with under a minute left to extend the losing streak.
The Falcons are coming off a 20-17 win over the Saints, one that closed the gap for the division lead. Matt Ryan threw three interceptions, but Matt Bryant gave Atlanta the lead with 3:49 left. Deion Jones then clinched the victory by picking off Drew Brees in the end zone with 1:25 to go. The Falcons can win the division by winning out, but they sit in good position for a playoff spot regardless.
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Losses aren’t the only things that have piled up for the Bucs this season. Injuries have also been an issue. That continues to be the case this week. Gerald McCoy (biceps), Lavonte David (hamstring) and Vernon Hargreaves (hamstring) are out. Clinton McDonald (back), Josh Robinson (hamstring), Donovan Smith (shoulder) and J.R. Sweezy (shin) are all questionable. For Atlanta, Tevin Coleman (concussion) and Andy Levitre (triceps) are ruled out.
Atlanta comes into Monday’s game ninth in total offense, twelfth in passing offense and twelfth in rushing offense. That spells trouble for Tampa Bay. The Buccaneer defense is 31st in total defense, dead last in pass defense and eighteenth in run defense. The best hope that the Bucs have is that their sixth-best passing offense can keep up with Ryan and company. What will make that difficult, though, is that the Falcons are seventh in total defense and sixth in pass defense.
The last time these two teams met was back on Nov. 26 in Atlanta. The Falcons came away with a 34-20 win over the Bucs thanks to Julio Jones, who caught twelve passes for 253 yards and two scores. Peyton Barber scored two touchdowns for Tampa Bay, while Brent Grimes came up with a fumble recovery. The all-time series between the two teams is tied 24-24. The Bucs have a 14-11 advantage at home against the Falcons.
Where to Watch
Monday’s game will be televised by ESPN. Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Jon Gruden (color commentary) and Lisa Salters (sideline) will have the call.
Where to Listen
As usual, 98Rock (97.9 FM) will have the game’s radio broadcast in the Tampa Bay area. Play-by-play duties will go to Gene Deckerhoff, while Dave Moore will carry the commentary. T.J. Rives will have reports from the sideline. For other radio options around Florida, check here. Fans can also listen on Buccaneers.com and the Buccaneers mobile app.
Satellite radio subscribers can hear the Tampa Bay broadcast on XM 83. The Atlanta broadcast will be on XM 81.
For in-game and postgame coverage of Monday night’s game, follow @ThePewterPlank on Twitter.