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Bucs-Falcons: Predictions, odds, how to watch Sunday’s game in Tampa

Our picks for the Tampa Bay-Atlanta game at Raymond James Stadium.
The 2019 NFL season will conclude in the same place that the 2018 season ended for Dirk Koetter: with a Falcons-Buccaneers game at Raymond James Stadium. The former Tampa Bay head coach is now Atlanta's offensive coordinator and will face his former team in a 1 p.m. game Sunday in Tampa. [JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP]
The 2019 NFL season will conclude in the same place that the 2018 season ended for Dirk Koetter: with a Falcons-Buccaneers game at Raymond James Stadium. The former Tampa Bay head coach is now Atlanta's offensive coordinator and will face his former team in a 1 p.m. game Sunday in Tampa. [JOHN BAZEMORE | AP]
Published Dec. 28, 2019
Updated Dec. 28, 2019

Here’s what you need to know about the Bucs’ season-finale:

Bucs-Falcons TV, streaming options, odds, etc.

Time: 1 p.m. ET Sunday

Place: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

TV: FOX (Channel 13 Tampa Bay)

Tickets: Buccaneers.com | Stubhub | Seatgeek

Announcers: Tim Brando, Matt Millen and Sara Walsh.

Streaming: NFL app (locally or with a Verizon subscription); NFL Game Pass (audio only); NFL Sunday Ticket (with a Sunday Ticket subscription).

Radio: 97.9 FM in Tampa Bay (Bucs radio affiliates can be found here).

Officiating assignment: Carl Cheffers

Odds: Bucs (-1.5 points), over-under (47.5)

Related: MORE BUCS: The latest on the Buccaneers

Predictions

A consolation prize worth having

John Romano, columnist, @romano_tbtimes: Can a consolation prize ever be a motivating factor? In this case, I think it might. Bruce Arians has the Bucs believing they’ve turned a corner, and finishing 8-8 would be a very tangible selling point. It’s true Tampa Bay is banged up. It’s also true the Falcons have been on a roll in December. So an Atlanta victory would not even qualify as an upset. But Tampa Bay’s young secondary first grabbed your attention in a game against the Falcons last month, and they’ve only gotten better since then. Bucs 27-23.

The difference between 7-9 and 8-8

Rick Stroud, Bucs beat writer, @NFLStroud: Bruce Arians told his players that they should finish .500 because they’re “not losers.” A win Sunday would make Tampa Bay 8-8 with six wins in the last eight games. Maybe that momentum carries into the 2020 season, but likely not. The Bucs will be without Mike Evans and Chris Godwin again. Meanwhile, the Falcons will have running back Devonta Freeman and tight end Austin Hooper. Atlanta has won three in a row and this is a battle for second place in the NFC South. Jameis Winston is two interceptions away from the first 30-touchdown, 30-interception season in NFL history. He says his total focus is playing a turnover-free game. If he does that, the Bucs have a good chance because their defense is playing as well as it has all season. This is Shaq Barrett’s last chance to set the club’s sack record and Jason Pierre-Paul had three sacks last week. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was dumped six times when they played earlier this season. Matt Gay may win it late. Bucs 24-23.

Still a lot to play for

Eduardo A. Encina, Bucs/Pro sports enterprise writer, @EddieintheYard: Both of these teams have rebounded from slow starts to win five of their last seven games. The Falcons have road wins in New Orleans and San Francisco, so they’ve been their best away from home. But the key here — as it is most times with the Bucs — is whether Tampa Bay can limit turnovers. Winston threw two interceptions in the Bucs’ 35-22 win in Atlanta, when Tampa Bay averaged a season-high 7.2 yards a play and had 133 rushing yards. There’s something that makes the Falcons a good matchup for the Bucs. This time it will be closer. Bucs 28-27.

Bucs have more to gain by losing

Thomas Bassinger, sports data reporter, @tometrics: Would you trade $120 for $100? That’s essentially what the Bucs will be doing if they beat the Falcons on Sunday. If they lose, they have a chance at landing the 12th overall pick in April’s draft. If they win, they could fall to 19th. The 12th pick is roughly 20 percent more valuable than the 19th pick. Put another way: A team slotted 12th could command at least a fourth-round pick (and maybe a third-round pick) to trade down to 19th. You want a win, do you? So does coach Bruce Arians. “8-8 tastes a whole lot better all offseason,” he said. Okay, but does it mean anything? No. You would think that teams that improve during the second half of a season carry that success over to the next season, but there’s no such correlation. The Bucs would be better off resting any players they’re counting on for 2020. Bucs 35-21.

Another chance to prove it

Mike Sherman, deputy editor | sports, @mikesherman: When you haven’t made the playoffs since 2007 and have lost 10,000 paying customers in three seasons, proof of progress is vital. Winning six of your last eight games would be proof. Winning is proof. What happened the next season to other teams that have won seven of their last nine is irrelevant. What’s relevant in Tampa Bay is improvement. The Bucs are significantly improved on defense, a fact masked by Winston’s 28 interceptions and seven pick-sixes. Eliminate half of those interceptions and the Bucs would be playing for a playoff berth. But when you haven’t done that for more than a decade, you have something to prove every Sunday. Bucs 28-21.

Storylines

Evaluating Winston, game-by-game (John Romano)

This decade has not been kind to Tampa Bay’s NFL franchise (Rick Stroud)

Jameis Winston’s 30-30 challenge (Eduardo A. Encina)

Could the Bucs lose both coordinators? (Rick Stroud)

Farewell to a Bucs mainstay? (Rick Stroud)

Tampa Bay Times staff NFL picks for week 17

Visitor Home Eduardo A. Encina, Bucs beat writer John Romano, columnist Rick Stroud, Bucs beat writer Mike Sherman, deputy editor-sports Thomas Bassinger, sports data reporter
Atlanta Tampa Bay (-1.5) TB 28-27 TB 27-23 TB 24-23 TB 28-21 TB 35-21
Green Bay (-12.5) Detroit GB 27-14 GB 24-10 GB 34-17 GB 26-13 GB 21-14
N.Y. Jets Buffalo (-1.5) BUF 24-21 BUF 28-20 BUF 24-17 NYJ 20-17 BUF 24-21
Miami New England (-15.5) NE 27-17 NE 24-17 NE 28-29 NE 31-21 NE 31-13
Chicago Minnesota (-1.5) CHI 21-18 CHI 17-16 Chi 21-20 CHI 23-17 MIN 24-17
L.A. Chargers Kansas City (-9.5) KC 31-21 KC 26-13 KC 35-20 KC 34-21 KC 31-23
Cleveland (-2.5) Cincinnati CLE 24-22 CLE 28-23 CLE 24-17 CIN 27-24 CIN 38-35
New Orleans (-13.5) Carolina NO 34-17 NO 41-20 NO 30-21 NO 41-21 NO 42-31
Indianapolis (-3.5) Jacksonville IND 24-20 IND 28-20 IND 27-23 JAX 24-20 IND 35-28
Philadelphia (-4.5) N.Y. Giants PHI 21-14 PHI 24-17 PHI 28-20 NYG 27-23 PHI 28-23
Arizona L.A. Rams (-3.5) LAR 28-24 LAR 30-23 LAR 30-24 LAR 28-20 LAR 30-27
Pittsburgh (-2.5) Baltimore PIT 27-24 PIT 20-16 PIT 21-17 PIT 21-13 PIT 21-20
Tennessee (-3.5) Houston TEN 28-27 TEN 23-21 HOU 27-23 HOU 24-20 TEN 32-28
Oakland Denver (-3.5) DEN 20-17 DEN 28-20 DEN 30-23 DEN 27-24 DEN 24-20
Washington Dallas (-10.5) DAL 30-18 DAL 31-17 DAL 34-21 DAL 35-20 DAL 31-21
San Francisco (-3.5) Seattle SF 30-27 SF 35-34 SF 27-24 SF 28-24 SF 27-26
Lock of the week NO NO NE NO NE
Upset of the week CHI CHI CHI CHI CIN
Bucs games 10-5 9-6 9-6 6-9 8-7
Bucs games vs spread 10-5 8-7 8-7 4-11 7-8
Versus spread last week 5-11 3-13 8-8 5-11 3-13
Versus spread overall 128-112 122-118 122-118 112-128 104-136
Straight up last week 10-6 10-6 11-5 9-7 9-7
Straight up overall 159-81 149-91 147-93 143-97 143-97

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