Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Atlanta Falcons Preview and Predictions


Nov 2, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (87) celebrate Evans

The last time the Buccaneers suited up to face the Atlanta Falcons, the game was over quickly after it started.

Matt Ryan and company handed Tampa Bay a 56-14 beatdown that was keyed by their passing game, and the Bucs’ lack of pass rush. And while the Falcons looked like they were on their way to regaining form in the NFC South, they now sit only one game ahead of the Buccaneers in the standings at 2-6.

Clearly, neither of these teams are going anywhere in 2014, and I believe this game will be a much tighter matchup this time around.

Don’t be mistaken; the Buccaneers are a different team than when they faced Atlanta on Thursday Night Football in Week Three. But one thing from that matchup will stay the same: Josh McCown will be Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback.

Mike Glennon may have gotten the Bucs their only win on the season, but he hasn’t done much to keep the starting job in McCown’s absence. After starting off his 2014 by looking like a quick and decisive thrower, he has taken a few steps back in his mechanics and decision-making, and that has led to his benching.

If Tampa Bay lived in a perfect world (which they clearly don’t), they would be able to run the football and keep the third-and-long plays to a minimum. That means that Bobby Rainey and the debuting Charles Sims would have to have a stellar game. It’s possible, but if you’ve seen the Buccaneers play this season, you should expect at least one crucial turnover from McCown anyways.

Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson will do their best to help McCown out on the outside. Evans is coming off of his best career day against the Cleveland Browns, and would love to assert his dominance over the lowly Falcons. He didn’t get much of an opportunity to do that in the first game.

On defense, as I say every week, the number one key to the game is pressure. The Buccaneers have to get to Matt Ryan quickly before he finds Julio Jones or Roddy White for a big gain. Harry Douglas is questionable for today’s game, but if he goes, he’ll be another threat as the Bucs always have a hard time stopping him.

Both Michael Johnson and Lavonte David are listed as questionable this afternoon, but they should be able to give it a go today. David is in the midst of another stellar season, while Johnson has underperformed since signing with the Buccaneers. With Gerald McCoy eating up double teams in the middle of the line, it is vital that someone makes an impact at defensive end to truly take advantage of everything McCoy does. That job might belong to Jaques Smith, who we’ve seen flashes of brilliance from each time he has stepped onto the field. If the defensive line shows up today, there is a good chance for success, as Atlanta’s offensive line has been struggling all season long.


I’m sticking to my guns. I cannot predict a Buccaneer win until they show me they are capable of not finding new ways to lose football games. And with Josh McCown at the helm, something tells me they can find some creative ways to throw the game away this time around as well.

Although this is one of the better chances for a win they’ll have going forward (a revenge game against a 2-6 division foe), I do not see it happening. The Falcons will be right at home as we’re having “dome weather” here in Tampa. It should be around 70 degrees for most of the game with little wind. As inefficient as they are, they are more efficient than the Buccaneers, and that will be the difference in the football game.

Final Score: Atlanta Falcons 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17.