The Talking Plank - Week 14
The Talking Plank - Week 14
Bucs At Falcons:
Well, last week's game pissed me off so much that I really didn't have much of a desire to address that game (Defense gets an F, BTW). From the refs not making some proper calls, including missing a ton of obvious holds by the Panthers OL, to the missed tackles (number well into the 20's), it was a game best forgotten. The Bucs can still win the division by going 3-0 and the Panthers going 2-1 (or even 2-1 Bucs, 1-2 Panthers as long as we beat the Falcons tomorrow). The Falcons are looking to stay in the race, but the Bucs will be absolutely pissed on defense after a game like that. Plus, the Falcons are a much weaker defensive team than the Panthers. So who will win this one?
On Offense, the Bucs come in ranked 12th overall (339.2y/g), 17th in points (23.3/g), 12th passing (223.6y/g), and 13th rushing (115.5y/g). The Falcons' defense is ranked 22nd overall (344.8y/g), 11th in points allowed (20.8/g), 23rd against the pass (223y/g), and 22nd against the run (121.8y/g). In last week's game, the Saints racked up over 180 yards on the ground against the Falcons. Now the Falcons get to defend against the Bucs with Jackson's knee banged up and with Abraham suffering with a thigh injury. The Falcons aren't good at all against the run with Jackson out or banged up, so the Bucs should be able to run against the Falcons up the middle at times. Where they really had success, though, was on the outside, and I expect Dunn and Caddy to get plenty of opportunities to take it to the outside on the Falcons' defense. The Falcons' have decent linebackers, but not good enough to deal with good edge rushing teams. Houston is their best, by far, corner, and the Falcons' safeties are alright, but not spectacular. So the Bucs should be able to exploit this secondary as long as the QB stays relatively upright. If Abraham can't go, the Falcon's lose over half of their 24 total sacks. If Penn can keep Abraham in check if he goes, then the Falcons' will struggle to get a pass rush going. Of course, the QB they will be rushing is a bit of a mystery. Gruden apparently believes Garcia will go, but if he doesn't, it will be Luke. That makes gauging the passing game a little difficult. Garcia has finally started trying to hit the deep ball with a little more frequency, but you can see that his deep accuracy isn't what it used to be, and he never had a really strong arm anyway. If Luke plays, he can accurately hit passes anywhere on the field, and he's a better, and much faster, runner than Garcia is, which could prove really usefull. Either guy should be able to take advantage of Bryant and Clayton going against this defensive backfield. One of them is going to be open on most plays, so we just need to hit them. Using the tight ends will also work well against the Falcons' linebackers. I exepect to see the offensive line play well enough to allow the Bucs to have a solid running game and give the QB time, on most throws, to hit the receivers down the field and stretch this Atlanta defense. I see the running game chewing up some clock, and giving the defense plenty of rest. I fully expect to see the Bucs post more than 20 points in this game.
On Defense, the Bucs come in ranked 9th overall (293.7y/g), 5th in points allowed (18.3/g), 4th against the pass (182.6y/g), and 19th against the run (111.1y/g). The Falcons come in ranked 5th in total offense (366.7y/g), 9th in points (24.8/g), 13th passing (220y/g), and 2nd rushing (146.7y/g). As in week 1, the key to stopping the Falcons is to stop the run. After last Monday's debacle, the defense is going to be fired up and flying to the ball. Expect them to play top notch and take advantage of the fact that the Falcons' aren't as healthy on the OL as they were in week 2 when the Bucs got 4 sacks and shut down Turner. The Bucs still gave up 105 yards rushing, but they forced 2 fumbles and 2 picks and harassed Ryan all game as they made the rushing game average. If the Bucs' offense can get an early lead, the defense will really be able to tee off and make it even harder for the Falcons. Without a dominant running game, the Falcons tend to have a much harder time getting it done on offense. The secondary will be primarily focused on shutting Roddy White down. If they can double him up, single up on Jenkins, and keep the other safety up close to stop the run and defend agains the Tight Ends, the Bucs should be able to slow Atlanta's offense down. Atlanta will still score some points, but I don't think we will see anything like Monday's game.
On Special Teams, the Bucs come in averaging 9.8 yards per punt return (16.7 by Smith) and 24.6 yards per kick (29 by Smith), while allowing 8.4 on punts and 20.3 on kicks. The Falcons are averaging 9.3 per punt (15.2 by Douglas) and 22.5 per kick, while allowing 1.7 per punt and 22.5 per kick. The Falcons have gotten teams to fair catch 20 times in the punting game, which helps reflect on the punt return numbers. In either case, Smith has been a big weapon for the Bucs, and I expect him to find a way to get some big returns this week. The Bucs should be up to the task of slowing down the Falcons. With this game in a dome, Elam will have the advantage over Bryant, but both kickers are solid and can win this game with a field goal if it comes down to it. I don't know if Special Teams will be big in this game or not. I have a feeling, after really not getting any shots last week, that Smith will be itching to bust a big return in the punting game. That could be the difference.
When it comes right down to it, I think the Bucs' offense will put up some points, while I expect the defense to come in like a crazed banshee, wanting to prove that MNF was a fluke. Historically, the Bucs have followed up crappy games like that with a big game the next week. With the Bucs tending to have success in Atlanta, and against the Falcons in general, I believe the Bucs will come out and keep pace in the division and take the dirty birds down.
Bucs 27 Falcons 20