Week 6 Game Preview
(2-2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (1-4) Atlanta Falcons
What is up football friends? It's me your favorite Bucs beat writer. I am hype because this Sunday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to face division rival Atlanta Falcons in what will almost certainly be a shootout. Fantasy footballers will be watching this match-up in hopes of seeing their stud players - like Julio Jones and Mike Evans - reach their point ceilings. As of Thursday, October 11th sports book Bovada.lv has the over/under points total set at 57.5 and the over is likely as both team's defenses give up over 30 points on average.
The pirates in pewter are fresh off a brutal beatdown by the Bears before the bye week. The team is as healthy as they have been all season as all players practiced on Wednesday and only cornerback Marcus Williams (hamstring) did not participate Thursday. On Tuesday it was announced guard Ali Marpet signed a 6-year contract that will keep him with the team through the 2023 season. According to pff.com Marpet is the 7th best guard in the NFL for the 2018 season. It will be his responsibility to help protect quarterback Jameis Winston as he gets his first start of the young season.
Bucs Offense versus the Dirty Bird Defense
Winston will walk onto the field and command a crew capable of scoring at will. His team is 2nd in total offense averaging over 432 yards per game with 375.3 ypg coming from the pass offense. That is tops in the league. Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken took over play-calling duties from Head Coach Dirk Koetter this season and is making the most of his opportunity. Wide Receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson both have over 420 receiving yards while only playing 4 games. Both receivers along with breakout 2nd-year wide receiver Chris Godwin have 3 touchdowns receptions each. Atlanta's pass defense has been disappointing giving up over 277 ypg tied for 23rd in the league and their total defense is worse at 28th. As I mentioned earlier the dirty birds give up over 30 points per game and are second worst in that category.
As good as the boys from the bay have been at ball throwing they've been that bad running. The ground game is 30th and improving the rush offense is something the team focused on over the bye week. Monken believes running the ball will ultimately help the teams defense. When you run effectively you can control the clock and allow your defense to get some rest. Rookie running back Ronald Jones Jr was active for the first time against Chicago week 4 and I expect him to be more involved this week and going forward. RoJo is fast - capable of running a 4.4-second forty-yard dash and Monken will try to get him in space. He had RoJo line up at wide receiver in Chicago. Atlanta's run defense is 25th and the game is indoors - I can see the Tampa ground game finding itself against the Falcons.
Atlanta offense against Buccaneers defense
The dirty birds' total offense is ranked 13th in ypg, 26th in rush offense and tied for 8th in pass offense. They are tied for 9th in points scored with roughly 27 ppg. Quarterback Matt Ryan has one of the best receiver cores in the NFL led by stud Julio Jones. They have a rookie with superstar potential in Calvin Ridley who is first in the league with 6 receiving TD's. Their lead running back Devonta Freeman did not practice Thursday and he may miss the game but that won't affect the rush offense much as his backup Tevin Coleman is an excellent back himself and has 225 rushing yards this season. Like the Bucs, the Falcons are a pass first team. Tampa Bay is bad against the pass, in fact, they are last in the league in that statistic and 31st in total d. The rush d appears to be good but its hard to be sure when everybody can pass on you they don't need to run; regardless, the Bucs are 4th best at stopping opposing runners. Finally, they are worst in the league in points allowed - just behind the Falcons. Since week 4 many Buccaneers fans have been complaining about Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith's unit and are going as far as suggesting he be fired over the bye week. I don't know about that but I know this unit will have to play better against the Falcons than they did against the Bears if they want to win this game.
The Buccaneers can win this game. They had two weeks to prepare and they got embarrassed last game. They will make this a statement game. Mike Smith is a better coordinator than many fans think and this is the first Bucs team defense that has the talent for him to coach. Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has at least one sack in three straight games and he will continue that streak Sunday. I predict the Buccaneers win 31-20.
Thanks for reading friends I hope you enjoyed it and found it informative. Hit me up on twitter @stillnfac or in the comments section below and tell me what you really think. I can handle it. Be warned though if you come at me I will probably think it's pretty funny and will come back at you. Have a great day or night, whatever. Til next time.