- Match-up: Atlanta Falcons (1-1) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2)
- Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
- Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014
- Time: 8:25 PM EST
- TV: CBS/NFL Network
The Atlanta defense vs. the Tampa Bay passing game. The Falcons pass rush has been extremely weak during their first two games. This is mainly due to the fact that they have failed to get any pressure on the quarterback. The Falcons are the sole remaining team yet to record a sack this season. Luckily for them, Tampa Bay’s passing game has also been weak. Something has to give in this game. Either the Atlanta defense will begin to take advantage of some Josh McCown errors or Tampa Bay will expose the Atlanta defense and put up their best passing stats thus far. The Falcons desperately need to show they can put pressure on the passer. The Bucs will need to establish a strong running game to open up the passing game for McCown and his receivers. If they are able to do so, it might be another long game for the Falcons, especially the secondary who has been hung out to dry while Drew Brees and Andy Dalton had all the time in the world to hook up with their receivers.
Players to Watch
Gabe Carimi. As we know, many games are won in the trenches. With the season-ending injury to Sam Baker and with Jake Matthews unlikely to play this week, Carimi will be the starter at left tackle. Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith is familiar with Carimi from when he coached him Chicago. Carimi had trouble against the Bengals pass rush in Sunday’s game. He’ll have to have a better performance this week for the Falcons to have success in the passing game. If he can hold up against the Bucs’ defensive line, the Falcons should be able to air it out. Luckily for the Falcons, it’s unlikely that All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will be available. He is listed as questionable with a broken hand.
It should be a hard fought game. A good Falcons offense against a good Bucs defense. A subpar Bucs offense against a subpar Falcons defense. Who will bend and who will break? I expect Matt Ryan to have a bounce back game from a poor performance against the Bengals. Falcons win 27-23.