The Falcons will need every bit of help they can get to pull off the first massive upset of the NFL season. On most betting sites, the Buccaneers are 12.5-point favorites, showing the incredible disadvantage Vegas thinks Atlanta is under. Rightfully so, though, Tampa has starting-caliber players as backups, which has to pain Falcons fans as they have backup-caliber players as starters.
Atlanta doesn’t have a single advantage anywhere on the field outside of Calvin Ridley and the Bucs cornerbacks. Tampa’s front seven on defense is the the best unit in the league. The offensive line is an elite group, and the incredible breadth of weapons at Tom Brady‘s disposal is just unfathomable at times. Still, the Falcons have something working in their favor that is out of their control — injuries.
Jason Pierre-Paul is an important piece of the Bucs front seven, able to rush the passer but also an underrated run defender. He’s elite on the edge against the run and possesses the versatility to line up anywhere along the front. Good news for Matt Ryan, JPP’s status for the game will be something to pay attention to leading up to the game Sunday.
He was a limited participant with a hand injury on Wednesday, and now took a step in the wrong direction on Thursday as he missed practice altogether. Tampa could certainly be managing his workload to ensure he’s healthy enough to suit up Sunday, and Friday’s report will bring clarity to the situation.