Week 12 Tale Of The Tape: Tampa Bay Buccaneers At Atlanta Falcons

  • Quarterback
    The Bucs will almost certainly have Ryan Fitzpatrick in the lineup for a third straight game as starter Jameis Winston recovers from his shoulder injury. While Winston has started with light throwing and exercises, game competition is another story. Fitzpatrick has clearly had issues with accuracy in his career, but if he can get off to a good start, he is capable of doing a solid job.
    The Falcons are fighting to become a playoff team this year, and that’s a big drop-off from the team that dominated the NFC South a year ago. Matt Ryan is a skilled quarterback who can string big plays together and light up the scoreboard, but he will try to force the ball into coverage at times and that leads to turnovers. Ryan is smart, athletic and tough, but consistency is an issue.
  • Offense
    The Bucs would like to get their running game going with Doug Martin in order to take some of the heat off of Fitzpatrick. Martin has quickness and can make the first man miss, but he has not been an impact player to this point. Mike Evans is a game-changing receiver who can make big plays, while DeSean Jackson has explosive speed on the outside.
    The Falcons are hoping that Devonta Freeman (concussion) is back in the lineup and that he can give the running game a major upgrade. Tevin Coleman is a solid back, but he works best as the change-of-pace complement. Julio Jones is clearly one of the best receivers in the league, and his skill, strength, size and speed make it nearly impossible for opposing defenses. Austin Hooper is a key factor at tight end.
  • Defense
    The Bucs were expecting to have a defense that made a ton of big plays because of the speed this unit has throughout the lineup. They have been fairly disappointing to this point, and it’s unlikely that they will have a turnaround against the talented Falcons. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has the quickness to get through the gap and disturb the play. Lavonte David is a consistent and solid tackler.
    The Falcons were able to make a slew of big plays on defense a year ago because they had improved significantly in the size and strength departments. They have not been as effective this year, and it seems they are not playing with the same kind of ferocity as they did a year ago. DE Adrian Clayborn had 6.0 sack effort in Week 10 against Dallas, and the Falcons are hoping for more dominance from him.
  • Special Teams
    The Bucs have struggled with their special-team coverage for several seasons, but they have picked it up this season and they have nearly doubled opponents in punt return differential. Bryan Anger is an ordinary punter and PK Patrick Murray has been fairly good.
    The Falcons have plenty of speed and athleticism on special teams, and they should have the advantage in most games because Matt Bryant is among the most dependable placekickers in the league. P Matt Bosher gets solid height and distance on his kicks.
The Falcons have struggled much of the year and they can’t take any opponent lightly. If they take care of business, they should win by at least seven points.