On Sunday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play their final regular season game of the 2022 season. Despite this being a division matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, this finale will end the season with a whimper as opposed to a bang.
The Bucs secured their playoff spot as well as an NFC South crown last week in a pivotal game against the Carolina Panthers. That win leaves this game somewhat meaningless as both teams have nothing to play for. However, this game will be played regardless, so here’s what I’ll be watching for.
Buccaneers’ Starters vs The Bench
Head coach Todd Bowles has made it clear that the starters will be playing in this game. The big question is how long will they play in this inconsequential game.
It’s possible that the Bucs treat this like a preseason game. Getting some work in and pulling the starters after a quarter or a half makes some sense. They need to get some work in to stay sharp.
There’s also something to be said about momentum. The Buccaneers offense clicked last week for what felt like the first time all year. Continuing to work out the bugs and building off last week’s performance makes sense too.
Whatever they decide to do the decision will have a big impact on the outcome of this game.
New Face At Quarterback
The Falcons are featuring a new quarterback than the last time these two teams saw each other. Rookie Desmond Ridder is trying to build some traction in the NFL after sitting on the bench for most of this season.
Ridder’s game similar to Marcus Mariota, who was the Falcons previous starting quarterback. He’s a mobile quarterback who can gash a defense with designed quarterback runs. His arm is good, but he’s someone who will have to live off intelligence and accuracy rather than raw physical talent.
At this point in his career it seems unlikely that he’ll find much success in that way versus this Buccaneers’ defense. Especially since he doesn’t have a great supporting cast around him like other rookies the Bucs have seen. The one big name to watch for is fellow rookie Drake London who is a big body target downfield.
This could be a long day at the office for Ridder.
Buccaneers Front Seven vs Falcons Rushing Attack
The Falcons are a team that wants to run the ball. Rookie running back Tyler Allgeier could eclipse the 1,000 yard rushing mark in this game and he averages 4.8 yards per carry. His powerful running style makes tacklers think twice before stepping up to meet him head on.
This could be a problem for the Buccaneers as star nose tackle Vita Vea will miss this game with a calf injury. This will put pressure on the depth of the defensive line to step up and fill that very large void.
Assuming that linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White play the entire game then I don’t anticipate this being a huge problem. Those two can contain Allgeier enough to the point that he won’t beat the Buccaneers single handedly. However, the depth behind those two is largely unproven.
It’s hard to predict how this game will go without knowing how long starters will really play. However, the Buccaneers are certainly the better team in this one and should be able to take care of their business.
The Falcons just don’t have the talent on paper to keep up. Despite stars like defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and cornerback AJ Terrell, Atlanta just lacks talent across the board.
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The Bucs Report/Sports Talk Florida Pregame Show