Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview

The Falcons should be much more competitive this Sunday. (David Goldman)

The Falcons should be much more competitive this Sunday. (David Goldman)

Sunday’s matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers features two teams at the bottom of the barrel of the NFC South.

The Falcons (2-7) have lost three games in a row, with their last win coming against the Bucs in the Georgia Dome.

Tampa Bay (1-8) just notched their first win last Thursday against the Miami Dolphins.

Over the past three games, Matt Ryan has thrown three touchdowns to seven interceptions. In two of those games, his yards per attempt average has been less than 5.0.

While Roddy White finally returned after missing three games with ankle and hamstring injuries, he only had one reception for 20 yards. The receiver should find much more success against the Bucs as their 15th-ranked pass defense isn’t nearly as dominant as the Seahawks’ pass defense.

Ryan posted a career-high 148.4 passer rating in the first matchup versus the Bucs, and that was with White out. This time around, it’s Tony Gonzalez who is dealing with a toe injury and could sit out for just the third time in his 17-year career.

While the Ryan and the Falcons passing game should be a bit more successful, the last-ranked rushing attack will likely struggle against the Bucs run defense, which ranks fifth in the league.

Steven Jackson has yet to find his groove after returning from a hamstring injury. However, Jackson’s ineffectiveness can largely be blamed on the Falcons’ offensive line, as they have been woefully inept at opening up any rushing lanes.

With Sam Baker being placed on injured reserve, things can only get worse for Atlanta’s run game.

The Bucs are looking to generate some momentum at home after defeating the Dolphins.

The last time the two teams met, Mike Glennon took several shots down the field. Vincent Jackson was the biggest beneficiary, hauling in 10 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

Atlanta’s defense has struggled mightily all season. As was evident in the first game, the Bucs should still be able to move the ball despite having one of the league’s worst offenses.

Tampa Bay ranks 31st in points scored per game with 16.2, yet the team managed to score 23 points on Atlanta. The Falcons have yet to hold an opponent under 23 points, and there’s no reason that trend shouldn’t continue this Sunday.

I expect Atlanta to lose its fourth consecutive game. The Falcons have yet to win on the road, and I don’t think it happens here against the Bucs. With that said, it should be a close game between two division rivals.

Numbers Comparison

Atlanta Falcons:

Points Scored: 20.7 (23rd)
Total Offense: 339.4 (14th)
Passing Offense: 275.1 (6th)
Rushing Offense: 64.3 (32nd)

Points Allowed: 27.9 (29th)
Total Defense: 378.8 (25th)
Passing Defense: 252.0 (25th)
Rushing Defense: 126.8 (27th)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Points Scored: 16.2 (31st)
Total Offense: 299.8 (31st)
Passing Offense: 188.7 (30th)
Rushing Offense: 111.1 (15th)

Points Allowed: 23.2 (14th)
Total Defense: 333.0 (14th)
Passing Defense: 237.2 (14th)
Rushing Defense: 95.8 (5th)

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