Falcons LB Vic Beasley - Photo by: Getty Images
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bucs 24,Falcons 38. I wish it was different, but we don’t have the pass rush and Smith likes a loose zone.
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…
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.
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.
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 – and given the Falcs’ weak defense, Jameis could have a very effective night with the play action passing game. Then it will come down to how effective our pass rush is. If it isn’t we’re dead meat – Matty Ice will pick us apart. But if our pass rush IS effective, we may be able to hold Ryan and the Falcs offense to less than 30 points.
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.
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 see any way we stop their offense. Praying for a miracle.
ATL 34 Bucs 20
50 -0 Atlanta. We suck……
I am getting close to where you are. This is a BAD team.
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.
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 against the 49ers. So given that the Falcs have given up over 100 rushing yards in three games this season, maybe Peyton has another good day, with support from Mike James. IF this happens, it sets the stage for Jameis to run the play action passing game.
2) Passing game. Well, we’re only as good as Jameis can be accurate with his throws. If the aforementioned rushing game proves effective, then Jameis will need to throw it selectively into somewhat less tight windows that open up when your running game is working. The Falcs are obviously going to double team Mike Evans as our no. 1 receiver (both underneath and over the top) and show little respect for our other receivers, both WRs and TEs. But if Jameis can focus on throwing up high where only ME can reach it on jump balls, that can defeat the double teams. And if our other receivers step up better than they did last week, perhaps also because of the running game keeping the linebackers and safeties up close to the LOS, the single coverage on those guys may not be as tight as it was last week.
3) The trenches. I think this is the key to the game. If our D-line gets an effective rush on Matt Ryan, meaning Gerald McCoy draws his usual double teams, leaving Spence, Gholston, and Ayers to get to the QB, we can force some game changing INTs by our ball-hawking but small corners. Maybe we need to mix in a fair amount of blitzes by our linebackers who are pretty damned good tacklers most of the time. Maybe even throw in some corner blitzes, since it’s going to be very hard for our small corners to cover Julio Jones. If we don’t produce a decent pass rush, it is going to be extremely difficult to outscore Matty Ice with our depleted offense.
Bottom line – if all three parts of our game are clicking per the above, we could crank out a win of maybe 28-24 over the Falcs (I don’t see a shootout tonight). If all three parts of our game aren’t clicking, it could be a very ugly night for the Bucs.
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 rarely if ever come to fruition. Don’t believe me? Just picked up the SI NFL issues from my bathroom floor and noticed their “experts” picked Arizona over Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl this year. Right.
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.
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.
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?
I am going with the better QB. Flacons 42-16.
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.
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.
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