We are back after the bye week for officially our 2nd post in our worst case/best case evaluation of this week’s matchup. Show us some love and rec both of our posts
Flipping it to the Bucs
As it has been said here I’m going to play the devils advocate here and speak about where the Buccaneers can hurt us bad. Worst case scenario for the Falcons– Freeman doesn’t falter, their secondary continues their form and they find ways to win.
Freeman doesn't falter: Josh Freeman has done something that most people couldn't have predicted; he is giving the Bucs a fighting chance in the NFC South. Freeman has put up amazing stats for a 2nd year QB. But he is also lifting his whole team to play better as a group and win games. Freeman has only thrown 3 interceptions this year meanwhile throwing 8 TD’s. His passer rating is 87.1 (15 of the 31 QB’s listed) and completing 60.3% of his passes. These are slightly worse then our own Matt Ryan. Also note that last year while starting 9 of 10 games he played in, Freeman has 10 TD’s, 18 picks, 54.5% completion and a passer rating of 59.8. Freeman has stepped up this year and he is now a threat, he's no Peyton Manning, but he still needs to be monitored carefully.
However Freeman has also acquired a couple new targets to help him along the way this season. His favorite target being rookie Mike Williams, closely followed by ol’ reliable Kellen Winslow, and unfortunately the list doesn't end there. Sammie Stroughter and Michael Spurlock are threats from WR and Cadillac Williams has shown to be a deadly set of hands coming out of the backfield. This is a formidable set of targets that can burn us through the air, and all of these players have caught passes to get 20+ yards sometimes significantly more. They are now a more pass oriented team with 237 pass attempts to 176 rush attempts.
The newly found passing game has also given new life to the running game. With the emergence of LaGarrette Blount as a solid rusher for Tampa Bay they now have a fully functioning offense which; although doesn't put up the best numbers (21st in the league in offensive yards), or strike fear into the hearts of its opposition, can win games and has done on numerous occasions.
Their secondary continues their form: What might surprise a few people is just how good the Tampa Bay secondary are. They are ranked 13th in the league in passing yards allowed and are 1st in the league with 14 interceptions. Unlike their offense their defence is quite formidable in the air. As I am supposed to be talking about what Tampa Bay could hurt us with, I won't mention there less then formidable rushing defence.
Aqib Talib, Ronde Barber, Cody Grimm and Sean Jones are their deadly starters for their back 4. Clearly Jones isn't as scary as the others but regardless they are no laughing matter. Talib and Barber have 7 interceptions between (5 for Talib). With his current form, he may be Roddy White’s biggest challenge this year. As the rest of the team has the secondary has made some important plays in the 4th quarter to help them win games with Talib getting 3 of his 5 interceptions in the last quarter.
I think we will run the ball a lot more then we pass it this week but with Tampa’s weak pass rush I expect Matty Ice to have a lot of time to pick him passes and, as seen in the Bengals game, when Ryan has time to pass the ball he is a deadly weapon. This will be an interesting matchup.
They find ways to win: The Bucs have made some incredible turn around victories this year with Freeman winning more then half of his games in the final quarter. I’m not sure if it is their fitness, their coaching, their desire to win or something that they have put in the water but Tampa is getting it done. Freeman plays clutch football like no ones business. When there is less then a TD separating the two teams in the 4th quarter. 70.7% completion, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and a passer rating of 120.4. But he also lifts his team, this year alone 4 of there 5 wins have been by 3 points or less and all of them have been comeback wins. But it isn’t just Freeman winning these games, the whole team steps up and fights like a madman in the final quarter.
And that ends another, hopefully insightful, look at the good and the bad possibilities of the coming week. Clearly we are looking for Falcons to do more good then bad but we aren’t naïve. C’mon Falcons lets show them how good we really are.