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NFL Research: Falcons at Buccaneers

NFL Research gets you caught up with some key facts and stats to watch out for heading into the Thursday Night Football matchup between the Falcons and Buccaneers in Week 9.

*Game facts: Atlanta Falcons  *

Go-to matchup:  Matt Ryan leads the NFL in pass yards (2,636) and faces a Buccaneers defense that ranks in the bottom 10 against the pass. 

Julio > Evans:  Mike Evans has one more reception but almost 300 fewer yards than Julio Jones this season despite having 16 more targets.

Going deep: Since 2015, Mike Evans and Julio Jones rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in receptions of 10+ air yards. Evans has 84 and Jones has 77. 

Mr. Consistency: Matt Ryan has 47 straight games with 200+ pass yards (NFL record). 

Getting more pressure: The Falcons have 18 sacks already this season (T-11th in NFL). Last year, Atlanta had just 19 sacks all season. 

Defensive issues: Even though they've generated more sacks, the Falcons have struggled defensively this year. They rank 29th in points allowed per game (28.9) and tie for 27th in pass defense. 

*Game facts: Tampa Bay Buccaneers  *

Vital stat: The Buccaneers are 7-0 since 2015 (Jameis Winston era) when they run the ball on 50+ percent of their offensive plays. They're 2-14 when passing on 50+ percent of offensive plays. 

RB carousel: With Doug Martin and Jacquizz Rodgers both out with injuries, reserve RBs Antone Smith and Peyton Barber will carry the running load for Tampa Bay.

Who are these RBs?: Antone Smith is a seven-year veteran with a career average of 9.1 yards per carry on 35 attempts. Peyton Barber is an undrafted rookie with 16 rushes for 91 yards (5.7 YPC) this season.  

Winston on the rise: In his last three games, Jameis Winston has a 99.4 passer rating (6 TDs, 1 INT). In his first four games this year, Winston had a 72.9 passer rating (8 TDs, 8 INTs). 

Taking hits: Winston has taken more QB hits per game (7.9) than any other QB this season. 

Struggling defense: The Buccaneers have allowed 46 "big plays" this season (most in NFL). "Big plays" refer to 10+ yard rushes and 20+ yard passes. 

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