Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview

After throwing five interceptions last week versus the Arizona Cardinals, Matt Ryan leads the Atlanta Falcons (9-1) into Raymond James Stadium to take on the surging Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-4) this Sunday.

Prior to last week, Ryan had never thrown more than three interceptions in a game. In fact, he’d only thrown three interceptions in a game twice.

If there’s a defense to have a bounce back game against, it’s the Bucs defense: Tampa Bay is ranked last against the pass, allowing 312.6 yards per game.

It also helps the Falcons are playing on the road. Ryan has thrown 14 touchdowns and three interceptions in away games versus six touchdowns and nine interceptions in home games.

Atlanta’s offense should have no trouble scoring on Tampa Bay; the real problem will be containing the scorching Bucs offense.

Josh Freeman is having a great year after struggling mightily last season. He’s thrown for 2,505 yards, 21 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He’s tossed multiple touchdowns in the past six games, and the Bucs have gone 5-1 during that stretch.

One of the Bucs’ free agent splashes this past offseason was wide receiver Vincent Jackson, and so far he’s shown he’s was worth every penny spent. Jackson has 42 receptions, 863 yards, and seven touchdowns. He’s averaging an absurd 20.5 yards per catch.

And despite all this, the greatest threat for the Falcons comes in the form of a rookie running back named Doug Martin.

In just 10 games, Martin has amassed 1,000 yards. To put things into perspective, he’s only the second rookie running back to get to 1,000 yards in ten games since 2000. The other running back was some guy who plays for the Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson.

Martin has to be licking his chops going against an Atlanta run defense that has struggled all season.

This game is primed to be a shootout with both teams sporting two of the league’s top offenses and is likely to come down to whichever team has the ball last.

Working against the Bucs, however, is Freeman’s 1-5 record against the Falcons. In those six games, Freeman has thrown eight touchdowns to 10 interceptions.

Atlanta will get a welcome addition to its defense in the form of Sean Weatherspoon. The linebacker has missed three straight games since injuring his ankle against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8.

I predicted the Falcons would lose this game. I don’t think the Falcons will be able to slow down Martin. Also, Tampa Bay’s top-ranked rush defense should make Atlanta’s offense one-dimensional.

Numbers Comparison

Atlanta Falcons:

Points Scored: 27.0 (6th)
Total Offense: 382.1 (7th)
Passing Offense: 292.9 (3rd)
Rushing Offense: 89.2 (28th)

Points Allowed: 19.3 (6th)
Total Defense: 346.8 (18th)
Passing Defense: 216.3 (10th)
Rushing Defense: 130.5 (26th)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Points Scored: 28.7 (4th)
Total Offense: 369.3 (10th)
Passing Offense: 240.4 (14th)
Rushing Offense: 128.9 (9th)

Points Allowed: 23.0 (17th)
Total Defense: 394.4 (29th)
Passing Defense: 312.6 (32nd)
Rushing Defense: 81.8 (1st)

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