Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Getty Images
It’s been a few years since the Buccaneers have played a meaningful game at Raymond James Stadium with playoff implications. Some would argue that it hasn’t been the case since 2010 – now they can reset the clock.
This Sunday the Falcons travel to Tampa for what will be a must-win game for both teams. Atlanta is currently in free-fall, losing their last four games in a streak started by the Bucs during a 23-20 overtime win over the division rival in Week 8. Despite Atlanta gaining nearly 500 yards of offense on that day, the Bucs prevailed by taking the ball away four times, and that’s been the story of the Falcons’ skid. Since racing out to a 5-0 start and being plus-5 in the turnover margin, Atlanta has gone 1-5 over their next six games with a minus-8 margin.
The key for Tampa Bay’s defense is to keep taking the ball away. While Matt Ryan and his receiving corps, led by Julio Jones, are expected to get their yards through the air, the Bucs have an opportunity to meet their takeaway quota (3) and win playing old fashion Buc Ball.
Offensively, expect the Bucs to run the ball. Atlanta has given up an average of 128 yards on the ground in its last four games, including 117 in the last meeting against Tampa Bay.
The Bucs had to abandon the ground game early last Sunday, as the Colts milked the clock with long, scoring drives, leading the offense to have to make up for lost time and force it through the air. For Tampa Bay to keep the pressure on through the second half and keep giving the ball to Doug Martin and Charles Sims, the defense will need to get off the field on third downs.
In the passing game, Jameis Winston will have both his top targets – Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans – on Sunday, a luxury he didn’t have in the first contest in Atlanta, as Jackson was out with a knee injury. And while he’s listed as questionable, Austin Seferian-Jenkins has finally been cleared for contact, making his chances of returning this Sunday more likely.
After lighting the Eagles up two weeks ago with 246 passing yards and five touchdowns, Winston and the offensive line cooled off a bit last Sunday. The rookie faced a lot of pressure in the second half, particularly from the inside without Ali Marpet, and struggled to complete passes late in the game, finishing 20 of 36 for 212 yards.
Facing the Falcons 18th ranked pass-defense, and one with the league’s least amount of sacks (12), Tampa Bay’s aerial attack has a chance to get back on track and continue its steady ascent.
At 5-6 and in the thick of the wild card hunt, everyone in the Bucs organization knows this is a must-win if they intend on making a late postseason push. And what better way of keeping your hopes alive than sweeping a division rival, with the second win coming at home in front Raymond James’s most energized crowd in recent memory.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6) vs. Atlanta Falcons (6-5)
Sunday, December 6, 2015, 1:00 p.m. ET
Raymond James Stadium (65,908)
Network Television: Fox (WTVT Local)
Play-By-Play: Thom Brennaman Analyst: David Diehl Sideline: Laura Okmin
Bucs Radio: US 103.5, Flagship Station (103.5 FM, 620 AM & 95.3 FM)
Play-By-Play: Gene Deckerhoff Analyst: Dave Moore Sideline: T.J. Rives
Last Game: Tampa Bay Lost at Indianapolis, 26-12; Atlanta Lost vs. Minnesota, 20-10
Pewter Report’s Predictions
Scott Reynolds: Bucs 24-23
Mark Cook: Bucs 34-19
Eric Horchy: Falcons 31-23
Zach Shapiro: Bucs 20-17
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
Surferdudes, Bucs 27, Birds 24. We were disappointed when the biggest game of the year the home opener we got crushed. Thought we mighta picked the wrong Q.B.. Now a meaningful biggest game of the year in December, how far have we come? Two division foes, only one stays alive. One pro bowl Q.B. going against the young gun. That’s right, we have a young gun, today is his day.
As a loyal Buc fan I will say we win. As a realist for that to happen we need to be lucky, no mistakes, and pressure on the QB. Go Bucs!
I’d say we’re better at every position group (of course some of that is like a C- versus a D) than they are, apart from QB…and there I think our guy has been getting better each week while theirs has been getting worse. As always the difference will be turnovers, penalties and “the money down” in this one…baring some significant injury in the game of course …Go Bucs…pick off Matty Thrice, avoid the yellow hankies, and may the odds be ever in your favor!
Fire the Cannons!
Bucs 28 Dixie Chicks 14
I hope we punch them in the mouth fast and give them multiple helpings of Doug Martin. Go Bucs!
This will be a tough game. Both teams needing this win. Should be close and exciting. Bucs 24..21. Win on field goal at end.
It’s kind of interesting to that that Ryan is trending down and Winston is trending up. That says a lot about Koetter. PR, please stop talking about him so we can keep him around for another year!
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