Bucs Central

Game Preview: Falcons vs Bucs Week 17

The Buccaneers lead the all-time series 18-14 and have won six of the last 10 meetings with the Falcons. Since the NFC South was created in 2002, the Buccaneers own a 9-6 series edge, including season sweeps in 2002, 2005 and 2007 on the way to NFC South titles. Tampa Bay is 11-6 all-time at home against the Falcons, including wins in four of the last five meetings at Raymond James Stadium. The two teams first met in 1977, with Atlanta notching a 17-0 win at Tampa Stadium (11/27/77). The Bucs picked up their first win the next season, a 14-9 win that evened Tampa Bay’s record at 2-2, marking the first time the club hit the .500 mark. Tampa Bay’s 48-10 home victory to open the 1987 season represents the most points ever scored by a Buccaneer squad in the regular season, a mark that was later tied.

Date: Sunday, January 3, 2010
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. ET
Site: Raymond James Stadium (65,890)
2009 Records: Tampa Bay 3-12, Atlanta 8-7
Network Television: FOX
Play-by-Play: Dick Stockton, Analyst: Charles Davis, Sideline: Laura Okmin
National Radio: Compass Media Networks
Play-by-Play: Lee Hamilton, Analyst: Curtis Conway
Bucs Radio: US 103.5, flagship station (103.5 FM, 620 AM)
Play-by-Play: Gene Deckerhoff, Color: Dave Moore, Sideline: T.J. Rives
Last Game: Tampa Bay won at New Orleans 20-17 OT; Atlanta won vs. Buffalo 31-3

Key Match-Ups
Josh Freeman vs Falcons Defense
Freeman has been at his worst on third downs, completing 48.1% of his passes for 485 yards, 5 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. But clearly is not a fast starter, in the first quarter of games Freeman is completing 46.7% of his passes for 323 yards, 4 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. Two glaring weaknesses in the young quarterbacks game that bares watching this game and at the start of next year, to see if it is merely inexperience and jitters or becomes a huge stumbling block in Freeman’s potential development to take those next steps and max out.

Bucs Front 7 vs Falcons Ground Game
The Falcons, who average 113 yards a game on the ground could very well explode if Michael Turner was 100%, but Turner has been battling a nagging ankle injury in the second half of the season. The key however is that of fullback Ovie Mughelli, who is one of the league’s best lead blockers. It will be imperative for the linebackers to be playing on the other side of the LOS, if the Bucs are to put the Falcons offense in unfavorable down and distance situations.

Bucs Secondary vs Falcons Receivers
Matt Ryan is an accurate passer, who has two favorite targets on the team in Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, who have combined for a total of 159 receptions, 16 touchdowns and 1,914 yards. Gonzalez in the first meeting hauled in 9 passes for 83 yards in the teams last meeting.

DE Jamaal Anderson (chest)
DT Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder)
T Sam Baker (elbow, hamstring)
K Matt Bryant (right hamstring)
TE Tony Gonzalez (calf)
DT Thomas Johnson (knee)
P Michael Koenen (head)
LB Curtis Lofton (shoulder, hamstring)
S Charlie Peprah (hamstring)
QB Matt Ryan (toe)
RB Michael Turner (ankle)
WR Eric Weems (head)

DT Michael Bennett (toe)
DT Roy Miller (hamstring)
RB Derrick Ward (knee, thigh)
G Jeremy Zuttah (toe)
WR Antonio Bryant (groin)
C Jeff Faine (back)
DT Chris Hovan (illness)
TE Kellen Winslow (knee)
WR Michael Clayton (knee)

Falcons Head Coach: Mike Smith
Falcons Offensive Coordinator: Mike Murlarkey
Falcons Defensive Coordinator: Brian VanGorden
Falcons Special Teams Coach: Keith Armstrong

Overall: 26th (292.9 ypg)
Rushing: 23rd (105.8 ypg)
Passing: 25th (187.1 ypg)
Sacks Allowed: 15th (32)
Points Scored: 28th (15.6 ppg)
Overall: 26th (363.5 ypg)
Rushing: 30th (156.5 ypg)
Passing: 11th (206.9 ypg)
Sacks: 27th (27)
Points Allowed: 27th (25.3 ppg)

Overall: 17th (336.7 ypg)
Rushing: 17th (112.9 ypg)
Passing: 13th (223.8 ypg)
Sacks Allowed: 7th (26)
Points Scored: 12th (22.9 ppg)
Overall: 23rd (358.4 ypg)
Rushing: 17th (111.4 ypg)
Passing: 28th (247.0 ypg)
Sacks: 27th (27)
Points Allowed: 18th (21.0 ppg)

Buc Central’s Prognostication:
As always we are not advocating gambling based on our views of the game, especially considering we typically are inclined to make such educated guesses using are heart rather the any rational thought applied to picking. We are merely giving an opinion of who we think has the best chance at securing a victory.


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