I don’t think confidence is going to be easy to come by over the final three weeks of the season. The Falcons badly need an offseason of contemplation and retooling, not to mention hiring a new front office and coaching staff, so the final three games are more something we’ll watch in case of pleasant surprises than anything else.
Nonetheless, we dug deep and came up with a reason to feel confident about this weekend’s matchup between the Falcons and Buccaneers, and we managed to winnow down the reason to worry to just one.
Feel confident that the Falcons will force a turnover or two
Look, this even feels like a stretch. The Buccaneers have a good offense and capable defense, so it’d be hard for me to predict great things from Atlanta’s offense or defense. One thing I do feel confident about, even if it doesn’t ultimately change the outcome of the game, is that the Buccaneers will turn the ball over.
This is almost certainly going to be on Tom Brady’s shoulders. Brady has thrown seven interceptions over the past five weeks, and the Falcons defense has caused at least one turnover in each of the past six weeks. Brady’s looking a little older to these eyes in recent weeks, he’s forcing the ball a bit, and Atlanta’s defense has gotten at least a bit better at taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them. Taken together, that means I’m feeling very confident they’ll pick off Brady at least once, and then it’ll be on the offense to actually do something with it.
Worry the offense won’t be able to keep up
This one is self-explanatory. Dirk Koetter and the Falcons offense have petered out after a strong start to the year, and they’re now a middle-of-the-pack unit on the season, one that has been downright poor at times over the past month. The Buccaneers are good enough that I don’t expect that to suddenly change, especially without Julio Jones.
Tampa Bay has the top run defense in the league in terms of yardage, plus at solid pass defense, and that seems more than enough to contain an offense that has rarely been more punchless over the past decade. I just hope that the Falcons can make the kinds of changes that keep them from getting embarrassed at home.