The Falcons face a surprising Buccaneers team this Sunday in what should prove to be quite a game. Tampa Bay has gone through some devastating injuries this year, but has prevailed to a 6-4 record this season. They have won their last 4 games to give them a legitimate shot at the NFC wild card. Of course, if they were not in the NFC South they would be still seeking a division win, but Atlanta has run away with the NFC South this year. Matt Ryan will look to rebound from his 5 interception game from last week and should have a good chance against the 32nd ranked Tampa Bay pass defense. In fact, both teams offensive strengths will be facing off against defenses that have struggled against that particular portion of the game. The Bucs have been incredible on the ground with rookie RB Doug Martin at 1000 yards on the ground, while Atlanta is coming into this game with one of the worst defenses against the run.
I believe this game will come down to what team can limit the opposing offense. Both teams have been prolific on that side of the ball this year, with Tampa especially in the last 5 or 6 weeks. Nobody can seem to stop Martin recently and that is despite the lack of two pro bowl guards in Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph. No doubt that is some impressive running from the rookie back. Josh Freeman has also recently started clicking, in large part to a very strong receiving core in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. These two teams will face off again in week 17, a game in which the Bucs may be hanging on for dear life in the playoff race.
Atlanta has been rock solid all year, obviously with a 9-1 record, but have slacked off a bit in the last 3 weeks. They suffered their first loss and took two games late that they nearly lost. It isn’t surprising considering nobody in the league this year has been dominant throughout the entire year and Atlanta is no exception. Tampa will gunning for a win to prove any doubters they have left wrong, but Atlanta will look for a strong effort to get back on track. It should be a great game against division foes and will kick off this Sunday afternoon.