Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) vs. Atlanta Falcons (5-3)
Thursday, November 3, 8:25 P.M. ET
Raymond James Stadium (65,618)
Network Television: NFL Network
Play-By-Play: Al Michaels Analysts: Chris Collinsworth
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 vs. Oakland, 30-24; Atlanta Won vs. Green Bay, 33-32

After a deflating loss last Sunday, the Bucs have a quick turnaround into Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons.

Players and coaches, while acknowledging a difficult recovery and preparation period, have expressed excitement for getting a chance to recapture momentum so soon after a tough defeat. A win against the first-place Falcons, who own the league’s No. 1 offense, would certainly restore some energy.

But this is a better Falcons team than the Bucs faced in Week 1. Since the opener, Atlanta has gone 5-2, scoring at least 30 points in six of its last seven games. Head coach Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith, formally with flipped roles in Atlanta, know full well what Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are capable of. Along with running back Devonta Freeman and receiver Mohammed Sanu, the Falcons offense has been on a tear and will be difficult for Tampa Bay to defend.

One way to do so, though, is limiting the Bucs defense’s time on the field. Last Sunday the unit played 94 snaps, a result of stagnant offense and missed tackles late in an overtime game. That trend can’t continue.

Tampa Bay will be without Jacquizz Rodgers this week against the Falcons’ 11th ranked run-defense, so expect a committee approach with Peyton Barber, Mike James and Antone Smith. As for the passing game – an area the Bucs couldn’t get going against the Raiders’ 32nd ranked secondary – this week would seem like another opportunity to move the ball through the air. Atlanta’s 27th ranked unit has helped create the shootouts.

The Bucs would take their first home win and a 4-4 record anyway they could get it. See if the Pewter Reporters think it will happen.

PewterReport.com Publisher & Bucs Beat Writer Scott Reynolds
Without the services of running backs Doug Martin or Jacquizz Rodgers, the Bucs won’t have the balance needed for their play-action passing game to click. As a result, Tampa Bay’s offense will be one-dimensional and there just aren’t enough weapons for Jameis Winston in the passing game to match points with Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ high-flying offense. Unless Dirk Koetter empties the playbook and gets ultra creative and Winston has a career year, the Bucs offense will struggle to get 24 points on the board if they can get that many.

While the Bucs own a three-game winning streak over the Falcons, including a Week 1 win at Atlanta this year, Tampa Bay is winless at home (0-3). With the Bucs banged up, especially at the running back and receiver position where Russell Shepard, who has two touchdowns in the last two games, is listed as doubtful with a hip injury, playing red-hot Atlanta on a short week is not a great idea, especially when Tampa Bay played an extra quarter on a hot field in a 30-24 loss to Oakland on Sunday.

Mike Smith’s defense get shredded by Derek Carr in the second half and in overtime on Sunday as he threw for over 500 yards and four touchdowns. The Bucs need to play tighter coverage in the secondary and will need to get more pressure on Ryan than they did on Carr, who was sacked just twice. The defense will also need to create multiple takeaways in order to have a chance to win. Tampa Bay hasn’t produced a touchdown on defense or special teams this year, and this might have to be the week where that happens in order for the Bucs to have a chance to win at home and stay perfect in the division.
Reynolds’ Score Prediction: Falcons win 36-20
Reynolds’ Pick To Click: MLB Kwon Alexander

PewterReport.com Editor and Chief & Bucs Beat Writer Mark Cook
The Buccaneers are a wounded banged up and most likely mentally deflated football team after a hard fought, but disappointing loss to the Raiders in overtime last Sunday. Can they muster up enough energy and find just enough plays to beat Atlanta for the second time this season, and four games in a row? If they want to have a shot at contending for the NFC South division, this is a must-win game.

The Falcons offense is on fire as of late, leading the league in several categories and the Bucs defense is hurting from five quarters of football just four days earlier. On paper, this looks like it should the Falcons going away, but the Bucs have had the Falcons number as of late. The biggest issue will be can the Buccaneers find a way to run the football effective, down to essentially their fourth string running back and can they force a couple of turnovers? If so, Tampa Bay has a fighting chance.

Jameis Winston needs to have a big game, and I believe under the lights of Raymond James with a national TV audience, he does just that. Some how, some way, the Bucs find just enough to get it done and will get their season back on track. Call me crazy, but I like the Bucs squeaking one out late, with a Jameis Winston two-minute drive to win it.
Cook’s Score Prediction: Buccaneers win 34-31
Cook’s Pick To Click: QB Jameis Winston

PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Eric Horchy
The Buccaneers have Atlanta’s number lately and that’s a psychological plus. But with injuries mounting and replacements being pulled in off the street, it’s hard to look at this game with the same confidence that existed Week 1.

The depletion of talent on the offensive side of the ball showed last weekend when the Bucs were limited to 270 total net yards against a Raiders defense that had been surrendering 430.4 yards per game. Now Tampa Bay and quarterback Jameis Winston have to do more with even less after Sunday’s ankle injury to running back Jacquizz Rodgers. That leaves backfield duties to Antone Smith, rookie Peyton Barber, and the re-signed Mike James.

Throwing a little salt in the wound is Wednesday’s acknowledgement that receiver Russell Shepard will sit Thursday night. Not that Shepard provides a huge offensive boost anyway, but Winston will be working with one of the NFL’s least threatening set of targets. It’s Mike Evans and everyone else.

Working in Tampa Bay’s favor is that Atlanta is no defensive juggernaut. The 28.9 points allowed per game by the Falcons is fifth-worst in the league and opponents are averaging 285.4 yards through the air.

For the Bucs to keep pace Thursday, head coach Dirk Koetter needs his passing attack to tighten up. That means Winston locking in and delivering catchable passes and his motley crew of targets not letting balls hit the turf. Koetter and offensive coordinator Todd Monken must find ways to get balls into the hands off Evans, but it’s hard to believe he’ll have much room to work.

Thursday night is hugely important for both teams. Atlanta holds a 1.5-game lead over Tampa Bay and New Orleans and the Falcons have to be feeling pretty good about their chances looking at the rest of the NFC South.

The Bucs are going to need a lot to go right if they want to run their perfect division record to 3-0 and keep pace with Atlanta. They showed their grit and perseverance by sticking with Oakland and essentially winning that game before an across-the-field penalty ripped victory away. Tampa Bay beat Atlanta in Week 1 without forcing a single turnover. Barring a sloppy, turnover-riddled offensive night from quarterback Matt Ryan and Co., the Bucs won’t have enough to keep pace.
Horchy’s Score Prediction: Falcons win 38-24
Horchy’s Pick To Click: DT Gerald McCoy

PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Zach Shapiro
The theme of this short week has been: don’t let the Raiders beat you twice. Unfortunately for the Bucs, I think a quick turnaround after that type of loss may be too much to handle, mentally and physically.

The Falcons, a team coming off a thrilling 33-32 win against Green Bay, are moving the ball with ease, averaging over 300 yards through the air and 100 on the ground. If Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are receiver duo 1-A, Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu have to be 1-B. The Bucs corners have shown flashes of promise, but until they become consistent it’s hard to bet on them at the moment. A pass rush would certainly help their cause, though.

Last Sunday the Bucs afforded Derek Carr way too much time, making it nearly impossible for corners to stay with receivers late in the game. While the Bucs D-Line should have a better matchup this week – Ryan’s been sacked 20 times – I still need to see the unit perform before I predict success.

The Bucs are a hard team to read. A few plays away from being 5-2, they’re still flickering and finding ways to lose too often. A win on Thursday – which would be four straight against their division rival – is certainly possible. But, with a 3-16 record at home since 2014, I need to see it to believe it.
Shapiro’s Score Prediction: Falcons win 31-17
Shapiro’s Pick To Click: Jameis Winston

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About the Author: Zach Shapiro

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]
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Horse
Horse
5 years ago

Bucs 24,Falcons 38. I wish it was different, but we don’t have the pass rush and Smith likes a loose zone.

jiggyjoe
jiggyjoe
5 years ago

The only way we can win this thing is to untie Winston and let him go for the win. Let Winston be his best Bret Farve and let the defense go after Ryan on a regular bassis. There are no points for style. Go Bucs….If this happens Bucs 34. Falcons 24. If we use the last games game plan we will lose 24 to 34. Go Bucs…

chetthevette
chetthevette
5 years ago

It’s time for the BUCS to man up. Get mad at the Falcons.
Time to let Winston go. He seems to get fired up for the Falcons. Throw the ball all over the place. Their going to throw like crazy also.
Hoping for a W here folks.
GO BUCS

fredster
fredster
5 years ago

I knew we had good chance to beat Raiders but we stunk. No run game,depleted defense, QB has regressed, and a kicker that is utterly useless. Thanks for that Licht!

If Jameis has a career day and doesn’t turn it over maybe can win. He will have to air it out. We don’t have to have a huge run game but we need to at least get to 3rd and manageable.

If asked for a guess maybe 38-21 falcons.

I could see bucs winning like 31-28 if the above scenario was to happen.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  fredster
5 years ago

I don’t see Jameis “airing it out”. If our run game doesn’t work at all, that may be all that we’re left with, but unfortunately given Jameis’ inaccuracy on long balls and lack of speedy receivers,, an air-only attack is mostly likely to produce INTs rather than TDs, and leave our defenders on the field for 90+ snaps like last week, which is a recipe for a late game breakdown. On the other hand, if Payton Barber and Mike James surprise us with a reasonably effective running game – aided by quality run blocking especially on the right handside –… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Naplesfan
5 years ago

Actually, the 94 snaps last week was also due in part to playing most of a fifth quarter. But in a four quarter game, if our defenders are on the field for more than 80 snaps, then Ryan will manufacture another one of his fourth quarter comebacks, if it is even necessary.

That’s why we’ve got to have a decent running game or we’re toast. Nobody thinks we will with Rodgers and Martin out. But it’s not unthinkable that we could be effective on the ground against Atlanta.

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
5 years ago

Scott, Kwon had a pick six vs the Rams. But yes, they need more Defensive TD’s. Just when I thought we couldn’t get more banged up, Quizz & Shep go down. This is simply unreal. Unfortunately, we don’t have the WR’s to run Dirks vertical passing game. He’s going to have to mix up the play calls, 3 step drops, dink and dunk our way down the field. And yes, Jameis will have to be dialed in for 4 quarters. He has to carry this team tonight. I’d love to see some no huddle tonight. All that said, I can’t… Read more »

jme0151
jme0151
5 years ago

50 -0 Atlanta. We suck……

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
Reply to  jme0151
5 years ago

I am getting close to where you are. This is a BAD team.

Dustin Romero
Dustin Romero
5 years ago

It says the Defense hasnt produced a TD this year?? But Kwon had a Pick 6 against Denver I believe….I know he has a Pick 6 though.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
5 years ago

Given how the season has gone so far, against many of the expectations of Bucs fans, it is easy to play the contrarian, so let me give it a shot: 1) Running game. With Rodgers and Martin sitting out, everybody expects us to have a crap rushing attack. But people seem to have forgotten that three weeks ago, nobody expected Rodgers to do squat with Martin out .. and equally, people have forgotten that the week after Jacquizz’ breakout game against CAR where he got his first 100+ yard game, Peyton Barber also collected 84 yards on only 12 carries… Read more »

Garv
Garv
5 years ago

Feeling so damn deflated going into this game I wonder if it’s worth making the drive. Hoping against hope the players don’t feel the same way and man up to win one for their remaining fans at the stadium. The Buccaneers are so bad at home the Ray Jay has become a visiting team advantage! So what’s it going to be? Do the Buccaneers come out hell bent to win? Do their play makers step up and make plays when it counts? I hope so. Don’t we all. No damn “predictions” here. Face it, they’re wild guesses from “experts” and… Read more »

nitey
nitey
5 years ago

I think this is going to be an ugly loss for the Bucs, something along the lines of 34-13. Not enough offense and basically a tired and hurt defense. I’d like to say that I see some hope here, but honestly if the Bucs are going to win a home game, it’s next week against the Bears.

fredster
fredster
5 years ago

He better “air it out” or we will lose. He might throw picks yes. So be it. You think we are going to win playing that dunk and dunk garbage against leagues best scoring offense? Lol.

surferdudes
5 years ago

Scott, and Eric, you have the Bucs getting losing badly, yet your picks to click are McCoy, and Kwon. If they both played great, shouldn’t we not be beat so badly?

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
5 years ago

I am going with the better QB. Flacons 42-16.

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
5 years ago

By the way that scores assumes the Bucs let JW “air it out. If they run the ball and shackle JW, we have a chance.

fredster
fredster
5 years ago

Raiders were leagues worst defense against pass and not great against run but they had no trouble shutting Bucs down. Naplesbucs fan thinks we won’t need to air it out and will be able to run with bunch of practice squad RBs because falcons defense isn’t good? Hilarious bro.