Kevin C. Cox
The stingy Tampa Bay run defense gives the run game a chance to get going before the playoffs.
It's not a secret that the Falcons have not run the ball well in 2012. It's also no secret that teams with virtually no offensive balance are not usually the teams that go the furthest in the Super Bowl, though that has changed somewhat in recent years. The Packers and Patriots have proven that you can go a long way without a ground game.
The Falcons don't view it that way. All year long, they've fought the uphill battle that is trying to get the running backs going. This has been the worst year of Michael Turner's career with the Falcons by a wide margin, and neither Jacquizz Rodgers or Jason Snelling has been able to step up and take the starting job away. This is still a concern heading into the post-season.
The Falcons will get one final opportunity to get things going against the Buccaneers, who sport one of the better run defenses in the NFL. They're allowing a puny 3.5 yards per carry and have allowed the fewest rushing yards, period. They're not going to slack off just because they're out of the playoffs at this point, not with the Falcons on the slate and a chance to embarrass a rival.
What I want to see from the Falcons is a concerted effort to run the football on Sunday. If they can actually gain some yardage, rip off a few longer runs and make a dent in the top-rated rush defense, I'll be awfully encouraged heading into the playoffs. If they can't, they're just going to have to pass their way to victory. Again.