The final week of the 2012 season is upon us and gives us one last game before the playoffs begin. This week the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to stop their now five game losing skid as they travel to take on the Atlanta Falcons. This is a case of two teams going in opposite directions as we wind down the final days of 2012.
This is in intriguing game to see one thing, how long the Falcons keep their starters in this game. The team has already locked up home field advantage but with the struggles that the Falcons have had in the playoffs you would have to think that they want to put forth a good effort and try and go into the post season with some momentum.
These two teams met earlier in the season for what might have been one of the better games of the year. Tampa jumped out to an early lead but couldn’t hold late as Matt Ryan and that offense was too much for the last ranked pass defense to handle.
The Falcons should go right after the Buccaneers as they still don’t have an answer to slow anyone down in the air. Eric Wright will return from suspension which can hopefully add some help to a secondary that has mightily struggled since his suspension. In fact the Bucs have failed to win a game since Wright played last, so that might be something that could help add a boost.
Last time when they played it was the rushing defense that looked off. Jacquizz Rodgers took advantage of poor angles and tackles and came up with some big runs. That is the thing the Buccaneers must do this time around is control the rushing game if they want to start bringing pressure against Ryan.
Offensively the Buccaneers need to get out of their slump. They have failed to start fast as of late and it’s led to them playing from behind early. Josh Freeman needs to have a good game to end his season on a high note.
Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams must establish themselves early and build Freeman’s trust or it could be a long day. Last time when they met the offense had a very quiet first half and led to them having to play from behind. I expect them to get Jackson involved early and open up the run lanes for Doug Martin.
Martin had a rough go around last game with little to no running room at all. The Falcons sold out to stop the run and did just that. It’s important like I said for the Bucs to get to a fast start and get some lanes for Martin to run through.
In the end it’s tough to predict this game. We don’t know how long the starters for the Falcons will actually play as even Las Vegas has left the game off the board this week for that exact reason. I think Schiano wants to end the season on a high note and will be playing against mostly backups by the time the fourth quarter rolls around.
I think Ryan will get a couple touchdowns early but Freeman will lead the Buccaneers back in the second half with a 31-27 victory to end the season off at 7-9.