Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers preview: Time to snap the streak?


UPDATE: The official injury report has been released for Sunday’s game, with Jonathan Babineaux listed as probable and the trio of Antone Smith, Jonathan Massaquoi and Harry Douglas listed as questionable.


The Atlanta Falcons are, somehow, still alive in the NFC South after their bye week, but instead of portraying Sunday’s road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a monumental occasion, we will take a different tact. Frankly, the Falcons haven’t been very good lately, but it has been two weeks since Mike Smith’s team appeared on a football field and utterly collapsed, and that is all the excitement we need in advance of this week’s game against the somewhat hapless Bucs. Let’s get to the preview.

Opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Time/TV: 1:00 pm ET, FOX

Falcons Offense vs. Buccaneers Defense

Tampa Bay is (very) bad defensively. The Bucs are the league’s only team allowing more than 30 points per game, and they are 31st in the NFL against the pass while allowing more than 285 yards per game. On paper, this should be quite favorable for the Falcons offense.

Atlanta looked good offensively in amassing 21 first-half points against Detroit in London, but that came to a screeching halt as the offensive line play drifted from passable to putrid. However, the bye week should do wonders for the health (and requisite performance) of Jake Matthews, and that alone could provide some additional time for Matt Ryan. I am interested to see how Dirk Koetter’s plan changes in this game, but it is difficult to erase the memory of the Falcons exploding for 56 points in the earlier match-up between these two teams.

On the ground, Tampa Bay has been respectable, landing 18th in the NFL at just under 115 rushing yards allowed per game, and that is a bit of a worry. If there was ever a time for Atlanta to hand over the reins to the younger backs (i.e. Devonta Freeman), this is probably it, but we haven’t seen any evidence of that to this point, and I expect to see a full dose of Steven Jackson in this spot.

Falcons Defense vs. Buccaneers Offense

If the Bucs are bad defensively, there isn’t even a word for their offense under Josh McCown. Mike Glennon has appeared to be marginally better than McCown this season, but prior to this week, Lovie Smith and company have announced their intentions to go with the veteran, even when his last start (in Atlanta, coincidentally) netted a grand total of 58 passing yards.

The Falcons rank among the bottom eight teams in the league against the pass (30th) and the run (25th), but Tampa Bay isn’t the team to exploit those weaknesses. The Bucs have no idea who their running back is right now, with the trio of Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey and Charles Sims vying for time, but regardless, Tampa Bay has not shown the capability of explosion offensively, scoring just 150 total points in 8 games.


The road venue gives me pause, but even in the state of the current Atlanta Falcons, this is a spot where the team should prevail. I will make a solemn vow right now, in that I will never speak of the playoffs again if this result goes the wrong way. Until then, I’ll be in the corner diagramming scenarios for Atlanta to close the two-game gap with New Orleans based on the favorable tiebreakers of that Week 1 victory. I’m trying.

Stay tuned for post-game coverage, and a live game thread that will post on Sunday morning. In addition, be sure to follow ATL All Day for the latest on the Atlanta Falcons.