We kick off the action in week 3 of the 2014 NFL season with an AFC South clash between the Atlanta Falcons who have had two very different performances to start their campaign, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who carry with tradition to show everyone that once again this probably isn’t their year.
Both teams have plenty of worries to keep them busy going into the game, and for the Bucs it’s on both sides of the field. Josh McCown hasn’t exactly taken the offense into the next gear, averaging just 168.5 passing yards per game and has three interceptions to two touchdowns so far, with a passer rating of 75.1. The ground game, even without Doug Martin, is working thanks to a big game in the loss the Rams from Bobby Rainey, but obviously this wasn’t what they had in mind when they hired Lovie Smith.
The defense is a concern as well. The Bucs have forced just one turnover so far in both games and missing key players like Gerald McCoy and Mason Foster isn’t going to help them in a tough stadium against Matt Ryan, who’ll probably be bouncing back from a rough performance against the Cincinnati Bengals. Ryan is 5-1 as a starter against Tampa Bay at home with seven touchdowns, no interceptions and two sacks in the last four such meetings.
While the overall numbers for the Falcons offense seem impressive, most of them are due to their 37-34 win over the Saints at home on opening week. Against the Bengals nothing actually worked for them, but one connecting feature in both win and loss has been the defense, which seems to be unable to get stops on anyone.
They haven’t been able to record a quarterback sack and have just one QB hit to be proud of. However, that quarterback hit came as Dalton completed a touchdown pass on a 76-yard play, so maybe the Falcons aren’t looking at that roughing as a sign that they’re getting better defensively. Running and passing seems to be working, and the Falcons have so far given up just over 470 yards per game, conceding 58 points.
For the Bucs, this is the last stand in terms of keeping some playoff hopes alive. This team wasn’t favored to do extremely well anyway, but starting at 0-3 will usually put an end to any aspirations left standing. The Falcons are hoping to figure out who they really are, and missing Roddy White (questionable) isn’t going to make it easier. However, if their defense is going to be awful all season, at least they can hope for another memorable display at home, as going all out on offense seems to be their only way of winning games right now.