After both teams came out on the losing side need-to-win games last week, Atlanta and Tampa Bay come into this week's NFC South matchup needing to knock off each other. They don't just need to look good, they need to take home a victory.
The 8-5 Atlanta Falcons come off a heart-wrenching loss to the Saints.
Many people (including me) believed that the Falcons could have finally shown they were ready to prove themselves, but ended up dropping a game that changed leads every few seconds. The Saints ended up capping the game off with a touchdown and a big defensive stop. So, where do the Falcons go now?
They meet Tampa Bay, a 9-4 team who need a win JUST AS BAD.
The Buccaneers went into the game against a strong Panthers team trying to take the NFC South lead on a Monday night. Most football experts were truly questioning who would win this faceoff between a strong defense for the Buccaneers and a well-rounded team for the Panthers.
So what happened? The Panthers came in and they hit hard. The Buccaneers fell hard.
Let's get our hands dirty with some real analysis.
Matt Ryan is the true Rookie of the Year. The quarterback with such great talent that everyone could see.
His touchdown-to-interception ratio hasn't been great (14-to-7), but he is catching fire. In the last three games, he has averaged around 250 yards with a combined 3 touchdowns and an interception. Plus, he is completing around 70 percent if his passes. He is starting to catch on fire, but can the Bucs slow him down?
The Buccaneers secondary is ranked fourth in the land. They have been superb, a veteran club that was recently talked about it Sports Illustrated. Plus, they weren't the reason for the recent loss. The unit got two interceptions and held Delhomme to just 173 yards passing.
I look for Matt Ryan to throw for 225 yards and two touchdowns, but surrender a pick.
Michael Turner has shown he is not just LaDainian Tomlinson's understudy, he is legitimate. When he joined the Falcons and became a true starter, he made sure he stayed a starter.
Turner had a slow, 61-yard game against the Saints though. Still, in the two games before, he averaged 118.5 yards and crushed the teams. Oh, and don't forget this 'Jerious Norwood'. He has become a small yard player who could sprout.
Tampa Bay got BURNNEDD! The burning keeps on, and Turner has a huge 100-yard day.
Jeff Garcia just won't go away.
Lately, he has been having quiet games, with little more than a 100 yards per game. But, he KEEPS AWAY FROM THE INTERCEPTIONS! It has been key for the team's success. Not to mention he had a bit of an explosion against the Panthers, with 351 yards and two touchdowns.
The Atlanta Falcons went up against the mighty Brees-inator, and also got burned. They aren't exactly the best defensive team, and have a 23rd-ranked pass defense. So, don't be surprised if this doesn't go as well as hoped.
I would say that Garcia gets a 250-yard, one touchdown day (roughly).
The Buccaneers like running, a lot. Well, once upon a time they did. Earnest Graham is out though and Cadillac Williams along with Warrick Dunn can't keep up the pace. The two combined for 71 yards last week, and they are barely moving...
The Falcons running defense gives up over 120 yards per game...ouch.
Still, what happens when two negatives come together? Nothing, so nothing happens for the running game here.
Atlanta 27, Tampa Bay 21
Another great match up, tough pick!
NO: 24 CHI:17 Tough one though.
WASH:16 CIN:10 Redskins win this one, but not by much.
TEN: 21 HOU: 13 I can never decide this one.
GB:31 JAC: 20 Green Bay is much more impressive.
MIA: 21 SF: 13 Miami is sweet.. and rollin'.
NYJ: 24 BUFF: 14 Jets lose in weird games though....
SD: 21 KC: 20 San Diego isn't THAT bad.
IND: 31 DET: 7 When ones hot and ones cold, the hot BLOWS OUT THE COLD.
MIN: 24 ARI: 28 Its a great match up, I am very intrigued.
PIT: 27 BAL: 17 The Steelers are rolling pretty well right now.
CAR: 28 DEN: 20 Denver isn't that impressive.
NE: 28 OAK: 17 New England WINNSS!!!
NYG: 24 DAL: 23 This one will be tight....
PHI: 20 CLE: 14 Philadelphia isn't bad.