Five games into the season and the Buccaneers have yet to get a win in 2013. Going up against a 1-4 division foe in the Atlanta Falcons, this could be the best chance for Tampa Bay to get a notch in the win column.
The following keys to victory could help the Bucs in defeating the Falcons.
Key 1. Warm Up The Ice
The Falcons are ranked second in the league in sacks allowed with just nine through six weeks. Atlanta has a banged up offensive line which includes left tackle Sam Baker who has been ruled out with a knee problem. This is good news for the Bucs as they look to increase their season sack total from 14.
Quarterback Matt Ryan is no rookie and he has been eluding sacks throughout his career. If the Bucs continue to bring pressure to “Matty Ice” they may just force him in to errand throws. Which is something Tampa Bay was unable to do last week against Philadelphia.
Key 2. Win The Tunover Battle
The Buccaneers have had decent success creating turnovers but have also turned the ball over each week. Atlanta has not done so well creating them.
The Falcons are last in the league in forced fumbles with two and 24th in the league in interceptions with three. But Atlanta has done a good job protecting the football. If the Bucs can force some turnovers and Tampa Bay rookie Mike Glennon not throw an interception (and hand the ball off to Doug Martin without any miscues), Bucs should be in good position to win the game.
Key 3. Who Are These Guys?
No Julio Jones. No Roddy White. No Problem?
Tampa Bay’s secondary will line up across from Harry Douglas, Kevin Cone and Drew Davis. The names don’t jump out as receivers who can light up the scoreboard but we’ve seen it happen before where the Bucs turn a player no one is familiar with into a player media outlets begin talking about.
Douglas is the most experienced of the group with four seasons under his belt and between Davis and Cone they have nine total passes (targets) thrown their way in their careers. The Buccaneers should have a decent game against these receivers and if not, it’ll be a surprisingly long day.
Key 4. O Dougernaut, O Dougernaut! Wherefore Art Thou Dougernaut?
Seriously, where is the Buccaneers’ Doug Martin? After bursting on to the scene last season as a rookie and making it to the Pro Bowl, Martin has not been able to run this season like he did in 2012. Unfortunately for him, his running woes may continue this week as Atlanta has the sixth best run defense in the NFL.
Martin seems to be missing holes that open up for him when they do open up. But getting the running game going is a collective effort and the offensive line has not helped him out for the most part. If the line can somehow create some holes and Martin hits them, Atlanta’s ranking could become irrelevant.
Key 5. Special Teams Has to Stay Special
The one unit of the Buccaneers this season that has played consistently well has been the special teams.
They rank in the top half of the league with an opponent’s average in kickoff returns of 22.2 yards and also in punt return coverage allowing eight yards per return. For their own returns, Tampa Bay is fifth in the league with a 27.6-yard kickoff return average and sixth with 11.4 yards.
But the Bucs may have a tough time returning punts as Atlanta gives up just over four yards per punt return. If they can get off some good returns that puts them in good field position it’ll increase their chances of getting their first win.
Gil Arcia (1-4): Buccaneers 23, Falcons 13
Mark Cook (2-3): Buccaneers 19, Falcons 16
Scott Reynolds (4-1): Buccaneers 20, Falcons 17