The 2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are piecing together a much longer impressive streak than last season. Remember when those silly pirates beat not only the Saints but the Falcons on their way to an impressive 4-2 record last year? If you said, "very vaguely," then congrats, you are in my boat. Problem was they never won a game after going 4-1 and weren't even competitive in the remaining 10 games. That "youngry" team refused to tackle Michael Turner who rumbled for 172 yards and his 2nd best YPC of his Falcon career.
I do fear the muscle hamster.
Tampa is a completely different team from last year and will give our Falcons a tough day. More after the jump.
Hey, remember how I was just talking about how the Bucs tackle as well as our secondary poorly? Times have changed. For the Bucs, not our secondary. The Bucs shut it down when it comes to opponents run game. They are 1st in run defense while the Falcons are 28th in run offense. I think it would be most sensical to just have Matty Ice kneel down on run downs. The Bucs front 7 is killing it.
Is Michael Turner anti-effective? The Bucs run defense has nothing to do with Atlanta because we are 28th running the ball. To that point, I've seen little to no difference between elite run defenses and terrible run defenses, if only the opposite outcome you would expect. Michael Turner puts up 80 yards (5.7 YPC) against the #3 run defense and 15 yards (1.2 YPC) against the #32 run defense. Weird, right? Maybe Turner is anti-effective. He could run for 500 yards on Sunday but I have to go with the odds and say he will disappoint me.
Doug Martin will likely own our souls. And if you have Doug Martin in fantasy, or, sadly, played against Doug Martin, you know Muscle Hamster doesn't care he lost his two best offensive linemen and is now runing behind some mediocre guards. Martin is averaging nearly 150 yards and a touchdown his past four games and is likely ready to slice up our weak run defense. Expect Mike Nolan to run more three defensive tackle alignments that worked so well at plugging the run against the Eagles and Cowboys. Well, expect it if we are lucky. We may see our base formation and Martin will easily reach 150 yards.
Fantasy football advice: start all Falcons pass catchers. The game will be far more than running the ball. At least it better be if we are going to win. The Bucs are a very Bucs 32nd in pass defense. Not to mention they traded away Aqib Talib and have Eric Wright nursing a leg injury. The Falcons and their 4th ranked passing offense (just a few yards out from 2nd, FWIW) should carve up their terrible secondary and mediocre pass rushers. At this point should be a given. Roddy White and Julio Jones are some of the more physical wide receivers in the league and will likely get physical with these scrubby corners. The bigger question is whether or not we can stop their passing attack.
Vincent Jackson is a monster. Jackson has been a favorite of mine for years. He has tight end size with kick returner speed and is tallying up an absolutely ridiculous 20.5 yards per catch this season. With the help of Jackson, Josh Freeman is putting up some pretty nice stats with his ridiculous run game taking some heat off him. Freeman is looking more comfortable at QB at looking much more like his sophomore season.
Josh Freeman has improved. Brent Grimes used to be Freeman kryptonite, usually pulling away even well thrown balls for interceptions. With Grimes out and Asante Samuel currently a game-time decision, Robert McClain and Dunta Robinson may have to step up against Vincent Jackson on the outside. Atlanta will need a great game out of Jonathan Abraham against Donald Penn to get Freeman out of his comfort zone and get his timing off.
Expect a tough game. Tampa is a very good team that will probably give us fits today. I think if they can pass the ball effectively this game will get unnervingly close.