Could the Falcons give the Bucs some trouble?

by Gary Shelton on September 18, 2021

in general

Running back Ronald Jones needs to snap back./© JOE MESASTAS

Saturday, 3 a.m.

They're going to win. Heck, everyone know the Tampa Bay Bucs are going to beat the lowly Atlanta Falcons.

Why, the Bucs are the Super Bowl champions. And the Falcons? Well, the Falcons got a nice draft choice out of last year, and not much else.

So sure, the Bucs figure to scrape the Falcons off of the bottom of their cleats. Right? Why, the Bucs were 12-5 last year. The Falcons were 4-12. Included in

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that were two victories during the Bucs' eight-game (counting playoffs) winning streak. Even this year, the Falcons were blown out by a lightly regarded Eagles team (the Bucs squeaked past the Cowboys).

So might it be easy?

Maybe not.

First of all, the Bucs didn't play very well against Dallas. And second, the Falcons have rarely been an easy mark for Tampa Bay.

Consider: In their two wins over Atlanta last year, the Bucs trailed 24-21 going into the fourth quarter of one game and led just 23-21 in the other. In those two games, quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 612 yards and five touchdowns. Receiver Calvin Ridley caught 18 passes in the two games.

In his 26 games against the Bucs, Ryan is 16 -10 with a rating of 95.5. He's thrown 41 touchdown passes against the Bucs.

Coupled with Tampa Bay's hobbling secondary, that could be a trouble spot for the Bucs.

Could the Falcons sneak up on the Bucs Sunday? It's hard to think so. The Falcons' defense simply wasn't good against the Eagles last week. But with Ryan and Ridley, there will be plays that can hurt Tampa Bay.

There won't be enough, however.

Prediction: Tampa Bay 30, Atlanta 23.

In other NFL games: Saints 20, Carolina 14.

Buffalo 28, Miami 20.

Kansas City 32. Baltimore 20.

In college football:

Alabama 33, Florida 17.

Miami 13, Michigan State 12.

Wake Forest 23, FSU 20.

USF 27, FAMU 14.

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