Although last week’s victory against the Eagles allowed Falcons fans to breathe a sigh of relief, Sunday night’s match-up against familiar division rival won’t be a walk in the park.
This weekend’s division collision between Atlanta and Tampa Bay will be a test of two marquee up and coming quarterbacks in the league. Matt Ryan is perhaps the most infamous of the two, but after Week 2′s gutsy win against Minnesota, Josh Freeman is feeling confident about this young and hungry squad who has, well, nothing to lose.
I’d venture to say Freeman will come out this weekend with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Not only will a victory against the Falcons prove they are able to play with the big boys in the division, it will be a way for the Bucs QB (who has a 54% career completion percentage against Atlanta) to throw a giant monkey off his back. Look for Freeman to step onto the field guns loaded on Sunday and if he and his thirsty Tampa Bay squad are unable to muster up a win, they are definitely not going down without a fight.
Regardless of Freeman’s poor performance against Atlanta, Matty Ice hasn’t faired much better against the Bucs throwing eight picks against them since he has entered the league. Last week, Ryan led a commanding drive in the fourth quarter against the Eagles and was much more the vocal leader we are use to seeing. He appeared to have shaken off the mental block he seemed to have in his lackluster performance at Soldier Field. Hopefully this is an indicator that the Falcons QB has his swagger back and will go confidently into the direction of a 1-0 record in the ever-so ruthless NFC South division.
The key for the Falcons will be an electrifying performance by their steamrolling back, Michael Turner. After having only ten carries in their loss against the Bears, Turner bounced back last week racking up 114 yards on the ground. Unfortunately for Atlanta, the Bucs have a back of their own that can pound the ball for triple digit yardage per game. LaGarette Blount will prove as much an asset to Tampa Bay this week as Turner will for the Falcons.
If Mike Smith doesn’t devise a plan to stop Blount from eating up his D and offensive TOP, his squad may be in trouble. If his offensive line can’t protect their quarterback, his squad may be in trouble. Fortunately, the latter may prove a bit less likely as Atlanta returns their veteran center, Todd McClure–which undoubtedly has Ryan feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
On paper, the Falcons have the upper-=hand, but it would be foolish to infer that this game will be anything short of a physical battle on both sides of the ball. Both teams have a lot riding on this game. Neither team wants to go 0-1 in the division. Neither team wants to leave the field with a losing overall record. Look for this game to be closer than you think and hope Atlanta got the memo- Don’t sleep on the Bucs.
About the Author
Written by Nicole Flanary
I am a 23-year old female from Dayton, Ohio. I am without a shadow of a doubt one of the biggest football fans you will ever meet...no, seriously...I have a tattoo of a football and a flower on my shoulder. THAT big of a football fan. I ran track and cross country in college and sports have always been a huge part of my life. That being said, it was incredibly easy to decide what I wanted to "do with my life" when I got older. I combined the two things I am most passionate about in the world--sports and journalism-- and proceeded to pursue a career in sports entertainment. I have a pretty cold sense of humor, which I find translates well about 85% of the time. I apologize in advance for anything I say that may be taken as too blunt and/or brash. I am simply not big on sugar coating. Get. Your. Popcorn. Ready.