The Atlanta Falcons, last season’s reigning NFC South champions, have struggled mightily this season. As have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have yet to win a game.
Coming off their bye week, the Falcons look to right the ship beginning with a win against the Buccaneers.
At 1-4, Atlanta has already loss more games in six weeks than it did all of last season when it posted a 13-3 record.
The Falcons are also on a three-game losing streak – adversity they’ve faced for the first time since Mike Smith was named head coach.
The Buccaneers (0-5) are still searching for their first win. Josh Freeman, who was Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback since 2009, was released and signed by the Minnesota Vikings. Head coach Greg Schiano, who was hired last season, seemingly was never a fan of Freeman.
Taking the reins is rookie Mike Glennon, who was selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Glennon has largely looked like a rookie should, throwing three touchdowns and three interceptions in his two starts.
Facing a rookie quarterback should be a plus for Atlanta’s defense. However, the last rookie quarterback the Falcons faced – the New York Jets’ Geno Smith – carved them up en route to an upset victory.
The Falcons have the league’s 26th-ranked passing defense. On the other hand, the Buccaneers sport the league’s worst-ranked passing offense. As it did with the Week 5 matchup versus the Jets, this looks like an advantage for the Falcons.
Offensively, the Falcons could be without both starting wide receivers. Julio Jones was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury, and Roddy White injured his hamstring in the fourth quarter of the Jets game. White was already fighting through a high ankle sprain.
White has missed the last two practices, along with Sam Baker and Steven Jackson. If none of those guys are able to go, the offense will rely heavily on Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez. Harry Douglas will be expected to pick up the slack as well.
The two teams last met in Week 17 of last season, and Tampa Bay came away with a 22-17 win in the Georgia Dome.
If the Falcons are serious about making a run, they have an excellent opportunity with the next three games. Following the Buccaneers game, they face the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers.
The Buccaneers are one of the few teams in the league who have a worse record than the Falcons. Atlanta should win this game, and I think they will.
Points Scored: 24.4 (12th)
Total Offense: 391.4 (8th)
Passing Offense: 313.0 (2nd)
Rushing Offense: 78.4 (26th)
Points Allowed: 26.8 (25th)
Total Defense: 372.2 (19th)
Passing Defense: 274.8 (26th)
Rushing Defense: 97.4 (6th)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Points Scored: 12.8 (31st)
Total Offense: 290.0 (31st)
Passing Offense: 190.8 (32nd)
Rushing Offense: 99.2 (20th)
Points Allowed: 20.2 (10th)
Total Defense: 350.8 (16th)
Passing Defense: 247.8 (16th)
Rushing Defense: 103.0 (13th)