ON THE CLOCK! Week 5 : Bucs vs. Falcons7 min read
IT’S AN NFC SOUTH SHOWDOWN!
Well, sort of. It’s the Bucs versus the Falcons. It used to be more of a rivalry until all the Saints stuff started happening. Now Atlanta and Carolina are the basement dwellers of the division and the Bucs and Saints are on a whole different level. In any case, it’s a division game. And believe it or not, this game is for first place in the division.
Atlanta has actually scored at least 23 points in all four games this season, but each one of those games have been decided by four points or less. They lost to the Saints (27-26) in Week 1 and the Rams (31-27) in Week 2 before beating the Seahawks (27-23) and Browns (23-20) in Weeks 3 and 4. They could easily be 4-0 right now. At the same time, they could also be 0-4 too. That being said, let’s take a deeper look into both teams and get a better feel for this Week 5 matchup between these NFC South teams.
The Falcons come into this game at 2-2, riding a two game win streak. Marcus Mariota has played average at best totaling just 779 yards (195 yds per game), 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. His leading receiver isn’t even Kyle Pitts. It’s Drake London with 18 catches for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns. Atlanta is where they are because of their running game, which has been led by Cordarrelle Patterson who has 58 carries for 340 yards, 3 touchdowns and he’s averaging a whopping 5.9 yards per carry this season. In fact, all three of their running backs are averaging over 5 yards per carry. That’s their strength. Well, it was. Patterson is now on IR with a knee injury, which leaves Tyler Allgeier as their lead back. And that is who the Bucs defense needs to stop.
On defense, they have a pretty solid front four, but they have lost star linebacker Deion Jones to a shoulder injury. The weak spot of their defense is the secondary, which doesn’t bode well for them in this game since it looks like the Bucs will have their full receiving corps back for the first time since Week 1. Their best hope for this game is to figure out a way to run the ball and control the clock on offense and to get after Brady as much as possible with that d-line. That’s the only chance they have in this one.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
OFFENSE : WR #5 Drake London
This 21-year old rookie out of USC has played decent this season considering his quarterback. He has 18 catches on 32 targets for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns, while averaging 12.8 yards per catch. With Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson out for this game, he’ll have to step up big time if the Falcons want any hope of winning this game.
DEFENSE : DT #97 Grady Jarrett
The 29-year old is still one of the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL and he’s been playing like it so far this season. In their first four games, he’s totaled 16 tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He’s on pace for a career high in sacks this season and he’ll be lined up across from rookie left guard Luke Goedeke. That could end up causing problems for the Buccaneers on Sunday.
Tampa Bay has now lost back-to-back games for the first time since losing to the Saints in Week 8 and the Commanders Week 10 (Week 9 was a bye) of last year. They made it through the toughest four game stretch of their schedule at 2-2, but I think we can all agree that they’re a better team than their record indicates. I can’t say the same for Atlanta.
The Bucs are FINALLY getting healthy again on offense after battling the injury bug for the first four games. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the defensive side of the ball. The good news is that we might get a little better look at what this offense was supposed to look like this season in this game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
OFFENSE : WR #14 Chris Godwin
He’s back! He’s 100% healthy! And he’s ready to go! That’s the word out of One Buc anyway. After he tweaked his hamstring against the Cowboys in Week 1, the Bucs have been extremely cautious with him. He played last week, but he was on a snap count restriction. He should be a “full go” on Sunday, which means the Bucs will have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones, Russell Gage and Breshad Perriman available for the first time this season. That sounds exciting!
DEFENSE : OLB #58 Shaq Barrett
After running his mouth about the Chiefs o-line then not backing it up with his play, I hope that Shaq comes into this game with a burning desire to be better. Hopefully, he let’s his play on the field do the talking and he ends having a monster day.
1. LG Luke Goedeke vs DT Grady Jarrett
I touched on this before, but it seems appropriate to hit it again. This matchup could have a serious effect on this game. The rookie has had his fair share of tough battles so far this season and this will be another one.
2. LB Devin White vs QB Marcus Mariota
After the Bucs d-line got shredded by the Chiefs last week, I feel like they’ll want to come out and make a statement in this one against the #4 rushing attack in the league. Mariota is a big part of that run game totaling 95 yards and 2 touchdowns so far this season. White will be the man responsible for not allowing Mariota to run all over the field and make plays.
3. Bucs D-line vs RB Tyler Allgeier
Like I said, I think the Bucs d-line took that loss personally last week. They allowed nearly 200 yards rushing to a Chiefs team that was averaging less than 90 yards per game on the ground. Now they have one of the best running teams coming to town, even if it is without their leading rusher, and they’ll want to make a statement.
They are getting healthy on offense, but now that damn injury bug is hitting the defensive side of the ball. DT Akiem Hicks (foot) and S Logan Ryan (foot) have both been officially ruled “OUT” for Sunday, as well as TE Cam Brate (concussion). The only other players on the Bucs final injury report are WR Julio Jones (knee) and WR Breshad Perriman (hamstring), but both of them are likely to play.
Atlanta only has one player listed on their injury report, but it’s a BIG one. Literally. TE Kyle Pitts is officially ruled “OUT” for this game with a hamstring injury. Add that to them putting RB Cordarrelle Patterson on IR for his knee injury and that really kills this offense.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Stop The Run!
Last week was a fluke. At least I hope it was. It needs to be. The Bucs defense has got to get back to it’s bread and butter, which is stopping the run.
2. Make Mariota Make Plays!
If the defense can stop them from running the football, then they’ll force Marcus Mariota to make plays. When that happens, so do the turnovers. If they can force Mariota into making some ill-advised throws, then the “Gravediggers” can get to work burying the Falcons with interceptions.
3. Do Your Job!
It’s that easy. Just. Do. Your. Job. Nothing more. Nothing less. Stick to your assignment. Stay in your gaps. Make your blocks. Make your tackles. Make your catches. Make your reads. Make your kicks. It all sounds so simple, right? It is that simple.
ODDS & ENDS
Bucs -10.5 & Over/Under 47 pts
This is going to be a massacre. I was wrong last week with my score prediction. Way wrong. But I’m man enough to admit that. This week, I’m right. The Falcons just don’t have the firepower to hang with the Bucs fully weaponized offense and the Bucs defense has a point to make after last week. If the Falcons even sniff the redzone on Sunday then I’ll be shocked. This one will get out of hand really early and become a laugher. Bucs win easily.
Bucs 41 Falcons 9
THE WRAP UP
Tampa Bay is looking for a way to jumpstart this football team. What better way than to have this wounded duck divisional opponent come to town? They’ve lost two games in a row in front of record crowds in Raymond James Stadium and I don’t think they have any intentions of losing a third. This one gets real ugly real fast and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers find a way to right the ship and get the “Super Bowl or Bust” train back on track. First place is up for grabs in this one folks. So now that you know everything you need to know about the Buccaneers Week 5 matchup, there’s only one thing left to say.