3 key matchups: Buccaneers at Falcons

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

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Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees talks about the signs of improvement from several players and the unit as a whole.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

Here are three matchups to watch when the Bucs (8-3) play the Falcons (5-6) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

Bucs WR Mike Evans vs. Falcons CB A.J. Terrell: Evans caught five passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns in the 48-25 win over the Falcons on Sept. 19. He has 50 catches for 695 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. Teams have targeted Terrell 49 times and have completed 25 passes (51%) for 178 yards, according to Pro Football Reference.com’s advanced statistics. Opposing quarterbacks had a 58 passer rating when throwing at Terrell, the best on team. “I think he’s played great,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “He really has, and I think a lot of it probably is not only experience of just seeing more things, but also (I) think the experience of how to get himself prepared. Every week. He’s a really mature young player.”

Bucs S Antoine Winfield vs. Falcons TE Kyle Pitts: Winfield is the Bucs’ third leading tackler, with 53 on the season. Since the mega-game of seven catches for 163 yards against the Dolphins on Oct. 24, Pitts held been held to 62 yards or less for five consecutive games with no touchdowns. Pitts had five catches for 73 yards in the first meeting this season. “They are fast on the edge with a great secondary,” Pitts said. “With a great week of preparation, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bucs RB Leonard Fournette vs. Falcons LB Foye Oluokun: Fournette is coming off a monster game in which he rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries and scored three touchdowns against the Colts. He also caught seven passes for 31 yards and another touchdown. “Physical runner,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “Finishes people off and brings a presence to their run game. Good player.” Oluokun leads the Falcons in tackles with 119 and has three tackles for losses, seven quarterback hits, a forced fumble, two sacks, one interception and two passes defended.

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Atlanta Falcons schedule and scores

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons 17, Giants 14

Washington 34, Falcons 30

Falcons 27, Jets 20

Bye Week

Falcons 30, Dolphins 28

Panthers 19, Falcons 13

Falcons 27, Saints 25

Cowboys 43, Falcons 3

Patriots 25, Falcons 0

Falcons 21, Jaguars 14

Next four games

Tampa Bay at Falcons, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5

Falcons at Carolina, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12

Falcons at San Francisco, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 19

Detroit Lions at Falcons, 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26

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