It feels like it was a long time ago that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last played the Atlanta Falcons. As you may recall, it was a tight game in the third quarter before the Bucs eventually pulled away late in a 48-25 win. Now the pewter pirates will go on the road and attempt to sweep this division rival.
While the bar was not set high for the Falcons coming into the year, they have been respectable this season. With a 5-6 record they are still in the thick of the playoff hunt. However, there is a lot of competition for the last wild card spots, so Atlanta may be feeling a little extra motivation coming into this game. Here’s what to watch for.
When these two teams met in week two Cordarrelle Patterson had two touchdowns. The multipurpose utility weapon can truly do it all. He has already surpassed his career highs in receiving yards and rushing yards and it totals up to being a 1,000 yards worth of offense. On top of that, he’s one of the best kick returners of all time.
There is a reason that Patterson has never emerged as a focal point of an offense until this year. He’s someone you’d expect the Buccaneers to keep bottled up as both a pass catcher and a runner. With that said, he’s so dangerous with the ball in his hands and working with a very good quarterback in Matt Ryan to put him in the best positions.
If the Bucs can contain him, the Falcons don’t have many other options to make plays. He should be the primary focus for the defense this week.
The Falcons will be running out the best version of their offensive line this weekend. It features three first round picks and two third round picks, four of whom were drafted in the last three years. There is talent here to work with despite less than ideal results at times.
Keep in mind that the Falcons only allowed one sack against the Bucs in week two. They were able to limit a Buccaneers pass rush that many expected to have their way in that game. This week may be more of the same. It will be a good measurement of the growth of the Bucs pass rush over the last several months.
It has been anything but a banner year for the Falcons star defensive lineman. He has just one sack in eleven games and if he doesn’t get another one it will match his career low. With that said, it’s not like Grady Jarrett just stopped being a pro bowl talent overnight.
The Bucs interior offensive line will be tested in this game. With as much attention as Jarrett is likely to get, it will open up opportunities for other players such as Marlon Davidson (who had a sack in the last game these two played). It’s also worth noting that guard Ali Marpet is coming off injury and returned to practice on a limited basis. This will be his first game back if he is able to go, but he will not be 100%.
Yes, this game was competitive in the third quarter the last time these two teams met. However, the Falcons just lack the talent they need to be expected to compete with the Buccaneers. This should be a multiple touchdown victory for the Bucs if they continue to play like they did last week.
This game is important for Tampa Bay as they look to keep polishing up their performances and get ready for the playoff push. You want to be playing your best this time of year and carry that momentum into the postseason. The Falcons are a team that should provide that momentum.
Buccaneers – 34
Falcons – 17