Welcome to the pre-game, quick hit, stats-apalooza. This is a broad, statistical overview of the current Atlanta Falcons' opponent. This week, it's the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Falcons will fly South 418 miles to play the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium aka Ray Jay or The New Sombrero. This game marks the first leg of a three-game road trip for the Falcons. After the Bucs, they'll travel to Carolina to face the Panthers and then it's on to the Pacific Northwest for a game, perhaps between division leaders, with the Seahawks. They'll return home Dec. 27 against the New Orleans Saints in a showdown that could decide the NFC South title. In the meantime, let's learn a little bit about our Week 13 hosts.
The Bucs will be wearing their throwback uniforms this week. You remember the "creamsicle" jerseys - though the team officially calls it "orange glaze" - and white pants with a winking pirate forced to hold his mini-sword in his mouth. It's hard enough to take the Bucs seriously with their awful record against winning teams this season but how do they expect to get any respect when they keep wearing these jerseys? Of course, the Bucs are 1-0 in these throwback jerseys, beating the Green Bay Packers last season for their first win in 2009.
Of note is the Falcons' placekicker, Matt Bryant, is a former Buc. He played with them for four seasons between 2005 and 2008 and still holds the record for longest field goal in team history (62 yards). The Buccaneers mascot is named Captain Fear. He's, of course, a Caribbean pirate captain and his bio reads, "Captain Fear is known to enjoy snacking on falcons, which he says taste similar to chicken." How clever.
The Buccaneers have only four active players over 30 years of age. This is a young team should continue to get better. Ronde Barber is the elder statesman of the team at 35 years old and 14 years of service. The Falcons have 12 players older than 30, with Tony Gonzalez leading the way with 13 years in the league.
SERIES HISTORY: Since the Mike Smith era began, the Falcons are 4-1 against the Bucs including four straight victories after a 24-9 loss in 2008. Over the last four games, the average margin of victory for the Falcons has been 5.5 points with three of those games within one score. This is the third meeting in Tampa, where the Falcons are 1-1 after a 20-10 win last season clinched a consecutive winning season for the first time in team history. Did you know the Falcons have won six games in a row against the "Bay" teams? They've won the last two vs. the Packers and four in a row against the Bucs.
Falcons Vs. Buccaneers
Both the Falcons and Bucs owe a lot of their success to winning the turnover battle. The Falcons are second-best in the NFL with a plus-11 margin and the Bucs are fifth-best at plus-8. This will be the 35th time the Falcons have played the Buccaneers, including once earlier this season. The Falcons trail the all-time series 16-18. This is the 11th time in 12 games the Falcons are playing a team that leads the lifetime series against them. I won't miss having to write that sentence.
The Falcons record against the Buccaneers (by decade):
- 2000s ...8-10
- 1990s ...4-4
- 1980s ...2-3
- 1970s ...2-1
- 1960s ...0-0
Average Score Since 2008:
- Falcons 17.8
- Buccaneers 16.4
Average Yards Since 2008:
- Falcons 333.2
- Buccaneers 287.6
Most Points Scored:
Falcons 43, Nov. 17, 1991
Highlight: Chris Miller to Andre Rison for three touchdowns in the second quarter put this game away before the halftime show.
Buccaneers 48, Sep. 13, 1987
Fewest Points Scored:
Falcons, 0, Dec. 5, 2004
Buccaneers 0, Nov. 27, 1977
- The Buccaneers beats the Falcons six times in a row between 1997 and 2003.
- The Falcons are in the midst of a four-game winning streak against Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers' Raheem Morris is 10-17 as a head coach and is 9-6 lifetime against the Falcons since coaching for the Bucs in some capacity beginning in 2002. He is 0-1 in Week 13 games all-time.
Mike Smith is 29-15 as Falcons head coach and is 1-1 in Week 13 games. He is 6-3 against the Buccaneers all-time including his time as a member of the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Best Individual Performances Against the Buccaneers:
- Passing: Wade Wilson, 324 yards, 1992
- Rushing: Michael Turner, 152 yards, 2008
- Receiving: Andre Rison, 147 yards, 1993
- Sacks: John Abraham, 3, 2008