3 key matchups: Falcons at Buccaneers

FLOWERY BRANCH — Here are three matchups to watch when the Falcons (3-3) battle the Bucs (3-2) for first place in the NFC South at 1 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Falcons TE Kyle Pitts vs. Buccaneers S Ryan Neal: Pitts had to get comfortable as he worked his way back from knee surgery he underwent last year. Neal played a game for the Falcons in 2018. He went to Seattle for four seasons before landing in Tampa Bay. Quarterbacks have a 158.3 passer rating when throwing at Neal, who has given up 230 yards and three touchdowns, according to Pro Football Reference’s advanced defensive statistics.

Falcons WR Drake London vs. Bucs CB Carlton Davis: London had a career-high in catches (nine) and yards receiving (125) in the loss to the Commanders, topping his previous highs of eight catches in his second game last season and 120 yards in Game 17 against the Bucs. Opposing quarterbacks have completed 54.5% of their passes targeted at Davis’ man. They’ve picked up 138 yards, no touchdowns and have a passer rating of 73.7.

Falcon C Drew Dalman vs. Buccaneers NT Vita Vea: Dalman will require some help from either Chris Lindstrom or Matthew Bergeron against the massive Vea, who’s off to fine start. Vea, who’s 6-foot-4 and 347 pounds, has 3.5 sacks and four tackles for losses. When he’s not making plays, he’s eating up double-teams.

The Bow Tie Chronicles