The Tampa Bay Buccaneers is playing against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, Sept. 18, where the former will be working hard to avoid a three game losing streak since the 2014 opener, but may be denied that chance as the Matt Ryan-led Falcons have opened their season as the league's No. 1 offense.
The Thursday Night Football Buccaneers vs. Falcons is scheduled to begin at 5:35 p.m. PT at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. Besides heading to the stadium in person, football fans can watch the game online through live stream offered by NFL Network, or on television through NFLN and CBS.
The Bucs have just lost to the St. Louis Rams after a close match of 19-17 on Sunday. Bobby Rainey rushed 144 yards and quarterback Josh McCown had two short TD runs. Although Tampa encroached upon the Rams end zone, St. Louis ended the game with a 29 yard catch.
The Falcons also lost their last game against the Cincinnati Bengals, whose defense kept top quarterback Ryan at bay, leaving Falcons at the mercy of Bengals. Ryan was 24 of 44 for 231 yards with a touchdown, two sacks and three interceptions.
Facing the Bucs, Atlanta defense must provide better coverage for the quarterback in order to complete the passes and get the ball down to the end zone. If Falcons falters in the offense, the Bucs have a very high chance to overcome the home team, just as the Bengals defeated the Falcons with a solid defense.
In the offensive and defensive comparison, the Falcons have clear advantage in their ability to gain yards, but fall slightly behind of the Bucs in rush offense. Perhaps the Bucs, ranked 11th in rush yards (129.5), can win the game through short passes and running plays.
Falcons are ranked 1st in pass yards (328.5), 2nd in total yards (438.5). Though they rank 21st in rush yards and 13th in points, quarterback Ryan can wreck serious havoc if the guards, right and left tackle can help him gain a little bit more time in making the pass plays.
It is uncertain if the Bucs can play at the level of Bengals, but one thing for sure is that if Ryan is not pressured the Bucs can expect a third game losing streak come Thursday night.
On Bucs' injury list, four players are out and five more are listed as questionable. Of the injured, the most prominent player is second round pick tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkens, who is out with an ankle injury.
The Falcons injury list looks clean, but first round pick offensive tackle Jake Matthews is also out with an ankle injury. While Matthews will be sorely missed, Atlanta still has a greater chance to defend their home field against the incoming pirates Buccaneers.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith has guided his team to the second-most wins in a season in the team history, but he will be going against Lovie Smith, the AP Coach of the Year in 2005, who led Chicago Bears (2004-12) to the most wins in the franchise history. Both coaches have strong backgrounds in defense, so the game will be another battle of wits as players strive to minimize on their mistakes and capitalize on their opponent's weaknesses.
The Thursday night football will begin at 5:35 p.m. PT, and fans can watch the game online through live stream by clicking here. The Buccaneers' radio station network can be found here, and those wanting to listen to them online can click here. Fans in the metro Atlanta area can follow the Falcons throughout the 2014 season on the team's flagship stations, 790 The Zone (790 AM) and Star 94 (94.1 FM), or through their radio network affiliates.