Falcons-Bucs key matchups: What Atlanta must do to earn its seventh win


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – As the Falcons look to build on their two-game win streak and finish the season on a positive note, here's are three matchups to watch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-10):


Falcons offensive line vs. Tampa's defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Vita Vea

Tampa's defense is led by its play up front with Gerald McCoy and Vita Vea anchoring the middle of their defensive line. McCoy has been a force in the middle for a while now as a six-time Pro Bowler. He has six sacks on the season. Vea, the Bucs' first-round pick and the No. 12 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, has come on as of late. After missing most of training camp and the first three games of the season with a strained calf, Vea has three sacks on the year and 24 tackles.

"I think he's playing really well," Quinn said about Vea's progression this season. "We played them earlier in the year, so you've seen his growth and maturation. Really solid against the run. Strong player and does a nice job with internal pass-rush. Fits in well with the group of guys that they have. They do a nice job with their front-four of creating problems in the run game and the pass game."

Bucs' wide receiver Adam Humphries vs. Atlanta's secondary

No, it's not Mike Evans. No, it's not DeSean Jackson. It's Adam Humphries who has stolen the show for Tampa's this year on offense. An undrafted free agent out of Clemson four years ago, Humphries has developed into a major factor for the Bucs with his ability to make plays in the slot. He has 71 catches for 750 yards this season with five touchdowns. The Falcons' secondary will have their hands full containing Humphries as they saw in Week 6 when Humphries had 82 yards on just three catches. Quinn acknowledged how Humphries has impacted Tampa's offense recently, especially against his team back in October.

"He's been excellent on screens, we've unfortunately have had some firsthand information on that where we've been beaten on some jailbreak screens by him," Quinn said. "When you play inside the slot you better have toughness because there's going to be hits, players who are playing zone and your back is to the quarterback and you're trying to go and so that's why Mo (Mohamed Sanu) can be such a factor. This is a tough competitor, Humphries. His speed, his quickness, ability to break guys off laterally, he's a real factor in their offense."

Falcons' linebacker Deion Jones vs. Bucs' running back Peyton Barber

Since his return in early December, Deion Jones has been a major difference-maker for the Falcons defense. Not only has he been creating turnovers, he's been Atlanta's best tackler. Tampa's running back Peyton Barber has three touchdowns in his past two games against the Falcons and Atlanta is surrendering 127.1 yards per game. On 219 carries, Barber has 805 rushing yards.

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