Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Falcons Go for 6th Straight Win

Ryan ComstockCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2010

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 07:  The Atlanta Falcons prepare for pregame introductions before facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Georgia Dome on November 7, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For the second time in four weeks, the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off in a battle of NFC South contenders.

The Falcons won their last meeting on the strength of Michael Turner's 107 rushing yards, his two touchdowns, a fourth quarter goal-line stand and their forcing two Josh Freeman second-half interceptions.

Atlanta is unbeaten in three games since then, while the Buccaneers are 2-1.

Tampa Bay has yet to beat a team with a winning record this year, their two wins since playing the Falcons coming against Carolina and San Francisco, their loss coming at the hands of Baltimore. They are 0-4 against teams above .500.

The up-and-coming Freeman has played well since facing the Falcons, throwing five touchdowns and no interceptions. He was held under 50 percent passing against the Ravens, but that team has done that to many quarterbacks with much more experience than Freeman.

The Falcons were able to keep Tampa's running game mostly in check when they met, holding the team to 27 rushes for 96 yards, a 3.6 yards-per-carry (YPC) average.

Since then, the Bucs have gotten their ground game cranking, averaging nearly 150 yards per game on the ground while gaining 4.7 YPC.

They even cracked 100 yards against the Baltimore defense—no easy task.

The big-bodied LeGarrette Blount has seen the majority of the carries, but Carnell Williams has been an excellent change-of-pace back, averaging 8.3 YPC when spelling Blount. He has scored two touchdowns in his last three games and also caught five passes for 41 yards against the Ravens.

Tampa will surely feel that they could have, and maybe should have, won their Week 9 meeting with the Falcons. They would love to get revenge on their home field.

The problem for them may be that the Falcons offense appears to be clicking on all cylinders right now.

Since facing the Bucs, Matt Ryan has completed 70 percent of his passes for 766 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 104.9 in his last three games and has been sacked just four times in his last five.

Against the Ravens, for the first time in quite a while, Turner was not the focus of the Falcons offensive game plan, rushing just 17 times for 39 yards. In two games since then, against St. Louis and Green Bay, Turner has gone for a combined 241 yards and two touchdowns on 51 carries.

It seems he's beginning to rip off the long runs we grew accustomed to seeing when he first arrived in Atlanta.

Against a defense that has struggled stopping the run all year, Turner will likely see a large number of carries.

Roddy White has been held relatively in check in the past two games as defenses have committed two defenders to him on just about every play.

White got off to quick start against Tampa Bay in their first meeting before hurting his knee and missing some game time. White was held under 100 receiving yards in consecutive games earlier this season (Arizona and New Orleans), but followed them up by going for 101 yards on seven catches against San Francisco.

Tampa needs to hope he's not preparing to explode once again.

Tony Gonzalez and Michael Jenkins have stepped up while White has been held down (at least by his standards), and on Atlanta's last drive against Green Bay, the forgotten man in Harry Douglas even caught two passes.

Anyone who has read my pieces with regularity probably knows I'm high on Douglas. It generally takes two years for a player to fully recover from an ACL tear, and it could be that Douglas is getting his quickness back.

It's not so much speed that a guy loses after such a knee injury, but his ability to make the quick cuts that a receiver, particularly one coming out of the slot, needs to make.

I figure that you don't become the all-time leading receiver at a D-I school unless you know what you're doing, and Douglas could be ready to make a bigger contribution to the team.

The Falcons don't seem too concerned with what those outside the organization think of them, but the only real detraction of the team has been their ability to play on the road.

Atlanta beat New Orleans, Cleveland and St. Louis on the road, but some seem focused on their losses in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Again, Falcon players aren't worried about what the national media makes of them. They will still want to prove that they can win road games, though.

This is the beginning of a three-game road trip for the team.

A win here would give them six straight wins and would likely take Tampa out of contention for the NFC South.

The last time the Falcons won six consecutive games was 1998, when the team went to their only Super Bowl. Not saying, just saying.

The Bucs have not lost consecutive games yet this year and will be coming at the Falcons with everything they've got.

We should be in for another nail-biter.