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Falcons vs. Buccaneers: Can Atlanta possibly hold Tampa Bay in check?

That’s it, really. A simple question.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, there are questions both big and small about this Falcons team. So many of them have become moot, even elementary in the face of a very big one with a rich vein of tiny, doubtful questions running through it.

That question, this week and for every week after it, is simply whether the Falcons will win. But that’s boring, week after week, and so instead we’ll once again tackle the uncomfortable question of the defense. This week, they’re up against a feisty Bucs offense led by Jameis Winston, who has traditionally victimized even solid versions of this Falcons defense.

So the question is whether the Falcons can stop them. They’re on a run they haven’t equalled in over 15 years with the number of points they’ve given up in recent weeks, and while I have little doubt the offense will bounce back offensively against an awful Tampa Bay defense, the defense may not be equipped for this.

Despite that, the Falcons are sticking to their guns and sticking with their players, with Dan Quinn saying on Wednesday morning that the Falcons didn’t try anyone out. The team is betting that the lack of discipline and communication issues can be solved with enough work, and that getting anyone currently left on the market isn’t going to be much of an upgrade. The Falcons have yet to see the fruits of that philosophy—and they aren’t even using everyone currently on the roster—but they’re dedicated to doing so.

What this means is that the Falcons are counting on things clicking, and that’s playing with fire with the way this team has played in recent weeks. But it’s also a bet that continuity, which has evaded the Falcons throughout this season, will finally help smooth things over, and that street free agents won’t be the salve that simply having the same lineup together will be.

My guess is that the Falcons will have to win on the back of their offense this week, but I’m hoping the Falcons will also tighten up enough to hold the Buccaneers under 30 points. Some signs of progress, however faint, would make the rest of this season more bearable. I doubt the Falcons will be able to shut down this offense or anywhere close to it, but enough of a stand to win the game would be good enough for me.