2016 Buccaneers’ Season Preview: Week Nine vs. Atlanta
Continuing our Buccaneers’ season preview, week nine they remain home to finish the season series with the Falcons.
With training camp on the horizon, let’s continue our early look at the Buccaneers’ 2016 schedule. Over the last several days and weeks, we have been doing a game by game preview, seeing what the Bucs have up ahead of them in the new year. We have gotten through the first eight weeks, so now we are up to week nine.
In week nine, the Bucs play the second of what will be a three game homestand, taking on Mike Smith‘s old team, the Atlanta Falcons. This one will wrap up the season series, with the first game taking place on opening day. Thursday Night Football comes calling to wrap things up for these two AFC South rivals.
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We know the weapons on the offensive side of the ball for Atlanta. “Matty Ice”, otherwise known as Matt Ryan, is still completing well over 60% of his passes, and though his touchdowns dropped to 21, cannot be overlooked. Devonta Freeman led the league with 11 rushing touchdowns, and Julio Jones is well, Julio Jones. There isn’t a lot to be said about him that everyone hasn’t already said.
Jones versus Brent Grimes is going to be a major factor in this football game. There is no doubting Grimes’ ability, as he has posted 26 interceptions over nine-year NFL career. However, he stands at a mere 5’10”, while Jones stands at 6’4″. Ability not withstanding, that height differential creates matchup problems. Can Grimes stand up to the threat? That answer will go a long way to determining the outcome of this game.
Doug Martin has had a strong history against the Falcons. In five previous games, Martin has averaged 81 yards per contest. In the two wins last year, he posted 71 and 95 yards, respectively. The Falcons were in the middle of the pack last year against the run, ranking 14th after allowing 105 yards per game. Martin should have some holes to run through, and a strong game from him will be key to success.
Last year, the Falcons were vulnerable through the air. They ranked 19th in the league, allowing 242.6 yards per game, three spots lower than the Bucs ranked. Jameis Winston completed 60% of his passes against the Falcons and posted an 87.2 passer rating. Mike Evans has averaged 71 yards per game in his four meetings with Atlanta. A balanced attack should be the order of the day for Koetter and company, and the offense will have chances to be effective.
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Like week one, the Falcons are beatable. But, they are tough. No matter what their record is when week nine arrives, the Bucs had better not overlook their rivals. If they do, they will not achieve the result they want.