The Atlanta Falcons have no time to dwell on the thumping given to them by the Cincinnati Bengals last week.
It’s a short week for them as they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) in the Georgia Dome Thursday.
Atlanta (1-1) needs to get back on the winning track, and a game against a divisional opponent on Thursday Night Football could serve as a good start.
Thursday night games are heavily favored toward the home team. It’s a short week, and because the home team doesn’t have to travel, it provides an opportunity to be better prepared than the visiting opponent.
After firing on all cylinders offensively in the season opener, the Falcons struggled getting anything going against the Bengals. They mustered just 10 points – a far cry from the 37 scored in the first game – and the offensive line couldn’t keep pressure off Matt Ryan.
Rookie Jake Matthews missed last game with an ankle sprain he suffered in the second quarter of Week 1’s game. However, he said he expects to play against the Bucs. His return will give the Falcons a much-needed boost along the offensive line.
The Falcons could use this game to try to get something going defensively, as well. After two weeks of football, Atlanta ranks last in total yards allowed with 472.0. The defense has registered just one quarterback hit, and they’re the only unit in the league that has yet to record a sack.
Tampa Bay’s offensive line is still a question mark, so there’s opportunity for the Falcons there.
Overall, the Bucs haven’t looked great on offense. The offense’s 298.0 yards per game ranks 28th in the league. The passing offense is the real culprit here: their 168.5 yards per game is good for 31st overall.
Veteran quarterback Josh McCown has looked largely unspectacular after enjoying success as the Chicago Bears’ temporary starter last season. He has passed for just 362 yards and two touchdowns to go with three interceptions.
New head coach Lovie Smith is looking to avoid an 0-3 start. If the Bucs do lose Thursday, it will be the second straight year they’ve gone winless through the first three contests.
It will be a battle of weaknesses as a Falcons pass defense that allows 317.5 yards per game goes up against the Bucs passing offense.
Atlanta could be missing one of its star receivers on Thursday. Roddy White is dealing with a hamstring injury, and may not be able to go come Thursday. If White is indeed a scratch, then Julio Jones should have no problem picking up the slack.
It could be a rough day for the Bucs defense. Stud defensive tackle Gerald McCoy broke his hand last week, and his status is uncertain for the game. Starting middle linebacker Mason Foster is out with a dislocated shoulder.
The Bucs could be just what the Falcons needed after a loss. Sticking with my season prediction, I think they’ll come out with the win in front of the Atlanta crowd, giving them a 2-0 record against two divisional opponents.