Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/23/12
Despite committing six turnovers and having a -5 turnover margin against the Cardinals last week, the Falcons were still able to pull out the unlikely victory. If they want to continue winning, Matt Ryan and his Falcons are going to have to cut down on the bad decisions and play smart against a good Buccaneers team this Sunday.The Buccaneers (6-4) are quite possibly the best team the Falcons (9-1) have faced so far this year. They are winners of five of the last six games with their only loss in that span being against the rival Saints. During that span, the Bucs have had two standout players. The first is rookie running back Doug Martin who ranks 4th in the league in rushing. The second is quarterback Josh Freeman, who has also stepped up his game a lot since last year.  Martin himself has rushed for at least 85 yards in four of the last five, with a career high 251 and four touchdowns thrown in.Freeman has been just as impressive as he has thrown for 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions over the same span. His best game came against the Saints when he threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns. With these two playing at such a high level, the Bucs are serious contenders for the wild card as well as challenging the Falcons for the NFC South title.In order for the Falcons to continue winning, there are a few things they are going to have to do.  The first thing is stopping the run. The Falcons rank 26th in rush defense, allowing over 130 yards per game. One way the Falcons can stop the run is by putting more guys in the box. However, if they do that, then they leave the passing game open for Josh Freeman and his receivers to have open lanes.  Thus creating a catch-22. On offense, the Falcons are in desperate need of finding some consistent play from the passing and rushing game. Matt Ryan needs to bounce back from his worst game as a pro and reestablish himself as a MVP candidate with a stellar game on Sunday. Anything less than his best is going to greatly hinder the Falcons' chance of winning.The last thing the Falcons are going to have to do is re-energize the run game. Now, they don't have to gain 150 yards and score four touchdowns to win, but maybe 100 total rushing and one touchdown will be enough to open up passing lanes for Matt Ryan and his receivers to shred the Buccaneers' defense which ranks last in the NFL in passing. If the Falcons can accomplish this feat, then they should be able to move to 10-1 and one step closer to the playoffs.
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