PORT CHARLOTTE, FL – With just about a week and a half...
Loading The Cannons: Week 9 Preview
Following A Rough Loss Against The Oakland Raiders This Past Sunday, The Bucs Quickly Reload The Cannons Trying To Keep Pace With The Atlanta Falcons In A Pivotal NFC South Matchup
Make no mistake about it, even with a sub .500 record, this is the biggest game the Buccaneers franchise has played in quite some time. A loss in this game puts a huge damper on the Bucs hopes of reining on top of the NFC South, while a win pulls them to within a half game of the Falcons with two victories over their heads.
Numbers are stacked against the Bucs on Thursdays. They are 2-5 all-time on Thursdays, and playing at home seems to provide no advantage for the Bucs. In fact, the last time the Buccaneers have won a home against a team that finished the season with a winning record was week six in 2011, when the Bucs beat the Saints 26-20.
After beating the Falcons in week 1, the Bucs hold the edge in the all-time series 23-22. The Bucs have won the last three meetings between the two, leaving Falcons head coach Dan Quinn searching for his first victory against Tampa Bay.
Buccaneers Offense Vs Falcons Defense
When Jameis Winston is behind center against the Falcons, it means a victory, right? Well, so far as Jameis has a 3-0 record against the Falcons. His performance against the Falcons was the main reason they were victorious in week one, when he went 22-32 for 281 yards and a season-high four touchdowns.
Different cast of characters this time around in the backfield with Jameis Winston, however. In the week one victory, he had Doug Martin and Chris Simms. This week the Bucs will turn to their 4th string back in undrafted rookie Peyton Barber. With Martin still nursing a hamstring injury, Simms on the I.R., and recent workhorse Jacquizz Rodgers suffering a foot injury against the Raiders, Barber gets the nod against the Falcons.
Biggest thing to look for with Barber will be his ability to pick up the pass rush. Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley has been an absolute terror to opposing quarterbacks lately, picking up 6.5 sacks in his last four games. The ability of Barber to pick up the extra pass rusher will go a long way in helping Jameis Winston replicate his dominance against the Falcons secondary that he has in the week one victory.
A player the Falcons defense most definitely have to gameplan for is Mike Evans. He had five catches for 99 yards and a score in week one, and is looking for his third straight game with a touchdown against the Falcons. Evans is tied for the lead league of touchdown catches with six. The quality of the Winston-Evans connection will speak volumes on the outcome of this game.
Buccaneers Defense Vs Falcons Offense
This matchup is a complete mismatch, as the high octane passing attack of the Atlanta Falcons goes up against the 23rd ranked passing defense in the league. The Falcons average the most points per game, while the Bucs give up more points per game than more than all but seven teams. Matt Ryan leads the league in passing yards, and has been MVP-esque since the week one loss. The Buccaneers need to find a way to keep the Falcons receivers in front of them and prevent the Falcons from getting in the end zone. It should be of the utmost importance for the Bucs secondary to make a statement in this game after getting torched by Derek Carr and the Raider last week.
A huge key for the Buccaneer defense will be the ability to close out the game. If the Buccaneers find themselves winning in the fourth quarter, the defense need to prevent Matt Ryan from rallying his team. Ryan has done just that 32 times in his NFL career, the most in that time span(since 2008). They don’t call him Matty Ice for nothing….
With running back Telvin Coleman sitting this contest out, Tampa Bay should see a steady diet of Devonta Freeman. Freeman has found success against the Bucs before , accounting for over 100 scrimmage yards in two of the last three meetings. The Bucs defensive line must find a way to contain Freeman, who has big time big play ability.
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