The Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
PFFELO Ranking: 20
Coverage by: Bill O’Brien
Matchup: Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense vs. Atlanta Falcons defense
- WR Mike Evans vs. CB Desmond Trufant – After serving a one-game suspension in Week 10, Buccaneer’s wide receiver Mike Evans crossed the 90-yard plateau for third time this season in Week 11. Although his grade has been down compared to recent seasons, Evans has earned a team-high wide receiver rating when targeted of 87.9. Evans will be matched up with Falcons’ cornerback Desmond Trufant. In 2016, Trufant suffered a torn pectoral muscle, which landed him on the injured reserve list. Trufant got off to a bit of a slow start this season, but has graded very well over the past two games, bringing his overall grade to 87.4 which ranks 11th among 118 qualified cornerbacks in overall grade.
- RB Doug Martin vs. LB Deion Jones – Buccaneers’ running back Doug Martin has had a tough time getting going this season. However, Martin looked better than he has all season last week, as he earned his highest game grade of the season with a grade of 75.0. He will look to string together another strong performance this week as he will be going up against Falcons’ linebacker Deion Jones. Known for his speed, Jones has missed just 23 defensive snaps for the Falcons this season and has registered the second most run stops on the team this season with 15 stops in run defense.
- T Donovan Smith vs. Edge Adrian Clayborn – Falcons’ edge defender Adrian Clayborn has turned it on as of late, including a historic six sack performance in Week 10. On the season, Clayborn has earned a pass-rush productivity rating of 12.5, which ranks 12th among 108 qualified edge defenders. The Buccaneers’ will have to find ways to help left tackle Donovan Smith this weekend. Clayborn rushes almost exclusively from the defensive right side, meaning he will be matched up with Smith for much of the game. Smith has struggled in pass protection, as his pass-blocking efficiency rating is 93.8, which ranks 52nd among 82 qualified offensive tackles.
Coverage by: Bill O’Brien
Matchup: Atlanta Falcons offense vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense
- WR Julio Jones vs. CB Brent Grimes – Falcons’ wide receiver Julio Jones has historically dominated matchups between the Falcons and Buccaneers to the tune of 49 receptions for 712 yards and five touchdowns over the past six games between these two division rivals. While Jones has struggled to find the end zone this season, he still ranks among the top wide receivers in overall grade, currently ranking second with a grade of 88.1. The Buccaneers will deploy veteran cornerback Brent Grimes to try to slow down Jones’ dominance in recent matchups. Grimes has been the best corner on the Buccaneers this season, as he leads the team in quarterback rating when targeted with a rating of 76.3.
- RB Tevin Coleman vs. LB Lavonte David – Fellow running back Devonta Freeman is expected to miss his second straight game this weekend, which leaves the Falcons with running back Tevin Coleman to carry the load. Coleman struggled a bit on 21 touches last week against a stout Seattle Seahawks’ defense, dropping his season grade to 69.2, which ranks 42nd out of 59 qualified running backs. This week will not be much easier for Coleman as he is slated to go up against Buccaneers’ linebacker Lavonte David. David has been one of the best run defenders this season as he ranks eighth among 91 qualified linebackers in run-stop percentage at a rate of 11.2 percent.
- C Alex Mack vs. DI Gerald McCoy – The marquee matchup between Falcons’ center Alex Mack and Buccaneers’ interior defender Gerald McCoy will have a big impact on which team will win the battle along the line of scrimmage. Both players are among the top graded players at their respective position. Mack currently ranks fourth among centers in overall grade with a grade of 86.3. He will have his hands full particularly in pass protection, as McCoy has earned a pasd-rush productivity rating of 8.6, which ranks 21st among 112 qualified interior defenders.