Game Scout: Falcons at Buccaneers

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Atlanta Falcons (2-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Sam Rosen, Heath Evans, Peter Schrager
*Keys to the game: The Bucs have been very competitive in most of their games despite their poor record. They finally managed to finish out a victory last week on the strength of an offensive line that protects rookie QB Mike Glennon well and a vastly underrated defense. However, injuries have decimated the running game and the loss of WR Mike Williams enables teams to slide more coverage toward Vincent Jackson. Atlanta activated LB Sean Weatherspoon this week and hopes its emotional defensive leader can have an immediate impact in run support that has been lacking. The Falcons' also have the league's worst ground game on offense, while Tampa Bay allowed just two rushing yards to Miami last week. It's yet another game in which QB Matt Ryan will be asked to move the chains out of constant long passing situations. He has been uncharacteristically erratic while too often forcing the issue downfield.
*Matchup to watch - Falcons CB Desmond Trufant vs. Bucs WR Vincent Jackson: Trufant is quietly putting together an excellent rookie season. Jackson will be one of his biggest tests to date - a big-play receiver who has a five-inch height advantage.
*Player spotlight - Bucs RB Bobby Rainey: Undrafted out of Western Kentucky in 2012, Rainey earned a Super Bowl ring with Baltimore despite not playing in any games last season and was cut by Cleveland after six games this year. With Doug Martin and Mike James done for the season, Rainey is the proverbial next man up.
*Fast facts: The Bucs have an NFL-low one play of 40-plus yards this season. ... Trufant leads the Falcons with 10 pass breakups.
The Falcons didn't figure to be battling the Bucs for the NFC South cellar in the second half of the season. Atlanta's inability to run the ball leaves QB Matt Ryan in a precarious situation against a quality defense.
*Our pick: Bucs 21-20

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