X-Factor Matchup: Buccaneers vs Falcons

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting set for their third consecutive home game this Sunday. Hopefully this one goes better than the last two which have put the Bucs on a two game losing streak.However, against an uninspiring Atlanta Falcons roster, you would expect the pewter pirates to turn things around.

To quote the great Lee Corso, “not so fast, my friend”. This Falcons team comes into this game with the same 2-2 record as the Bucs and are a late field goal by the Saints away from being 3-1. The Falcons are certainly overachieving and will cause more trouble than many may have expected a month ago.

On top of that, this is a divisional matchup, which are always very competitive. And not just a divisional matchup, but a game that will decide the early leader of the NFC South. I won’t go as far as to call this a must win game, but it’s a game you expect the Bucs to win if they are truly legitimate threats to host a playoff game this year.

Speaking of expecting to win, that brings me to this week’s X-Factor matchup. This is one that will play a major role in this game and it will mean big trouble for the Bucs if they can’t win it. 

Buccaneers Edge Rushers vs Falcons Offensive Tackles

The Falcons are not a particularly strong group up front. They have some talent in the middle of their offensive line, specifically Chris Lindstrom, but overall this unit is underwhelming. That is particularly true of the offensive tackles.

Jake Matthews was a first round pick back in 2014. He has always been pretty good; solid if nothing else, but not great. On the other side of him is a 2019 first round pick in Kaleb McGary. He’s someone who can aspire to be solid one day, but has been more bad than good in his career.

This is the type of matchup that great pass rushers should thrive in. Beating Matthews isn’t a sure thing, but is certainly possible. Beating McGary should be expected but most quality pass rushers in the league. I believe the Bucs have a pair of quality pass rushers.

Shaq Barrett has been one of the better pass rushers in the league since joining the Bucs. He is coming off a pro bowl last year and tallied up 19.5 sacks in 2019. He is the type of player who should be able to consistently win against these types of opponents.

Of course, the Falcons already know that. They will likely game plan around Barrett and look to give their tackles help against him. Head Coach Aurther Smith knows that this is a guy that he can’t let derail his offense single handedly. 

The man who is looking to establish himself as this type of upper level pass rusher is Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. He saw limited action last year as a rookie and is now looking to make his mark as a full time starter. He will have a great opportunity this week against this opponent and so much attention likely being paid to Barrett. 

Tryon-Shoyinka had four sacks and six starts last season. He has 0.5 through four games this year and will be looking to add to that total this week. And he has all the ability to make this a reality.

Billed as an elite level athlete coming out of college, Tryon-Shoyinka has all the physical tools you could ask for. He is fluid and fast off the line of scrimmage. He has flashed pass rush ability more than his raw sack numbers indicate and has looked the part so far in his young career.

Against a heavy footed tackle like McGary, a guy who some people believed would be a guard in the NFL, this is the matchup where Tryon-Shoyinka could really have a coming out party. If that’s the case and these two pass rushers do run wild, then I expect a somewhat comfortable victory for Tampa Bay this weekend.

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Big Game Sports Buzz with former Buccaneers' great James Cannida
Big Game Sports Buzz with former Buccaneers’ great James Cannida

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