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NFL Week Eight Preview – Tampa Bay at Atlanta

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Falcons will look to continue their success Sunday as they play host to first overall pick Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers at the Georgia Dome.

Atlanta is coming off a game in which they clearly didn’t play their best, but were able to overcome a game Tennessee Titans team 10-7 in Nashville last Sunday.

The Falcons are 6-1, and would like to get back to the form of what they did to the Bucs last season when they beat the Buccaneers 56-14 last September 18th.

Atlanta hasn’t looked as dominant as they did in their first few games, as in their last three contents they have turned the ball over eight times, and are putting up 18.7 points per game.

By comparison in their first four games Atlanta put up 34.2 points and 403.2 yards of total offense with two total turnovers.

“We are just in a funk,” Falcons WR Julio Jones said. “We have to get out of it. We have to keep battling and keep going and keep trying to get better and fix these things.”

Devonta Freeman is still running the ball well, as he leads the league in rushing with 621 yards. He’s averaging 136.0 yards with 5.68 per carry in the last three and hasn’t turned the ball over all season.

The Bucs will focus in on him, which could open up for a big day for Matt Ryan, who will see a Tampa defense that is a lot better against the run than the pass.

Tampa Bay is coming off Sunday’s 31-30 loss in Washington after leading 24-0 late in the second quarter, and they’ve allowed 20.3 points per game in the second half over the last three.

“I’ve made the statement that we are getting better as a football team,” Bucs coach Lovie Smith said.

“I think first off you have to be a decent team to get up 24-0 on a team in the NFL. That’s telling you a little bit of what you can be. Hopefully, that’s going to tell us a lot about what we’ll be in the future.”

The Bucs may not have all their weapons on offense, as wide out Vincent Jackson (knee) and Louis Murphy (ACL) were both injured against the Redskins.

Murphy landed on injured reserve and Jackson is still being evaluated, which could mean Russell Shepard and rookie Donteea Dye are forced into significant roles.

That will put more pressure on the run game and Doug Martin, who has run for 541 yards this season and will do his best to keep the Falcons offense off the field.

The two teams know each other well, and while the Falcons need to be careful with the ball, they should be able to squeak out a home win against a Bucs team that should have won last week on the road.

Atlanta 24 Tampa Bay 20

Tampa Bay – Jameis Winston 212 yards 1 TDs, Doug Martin 114 yards 1 TD, Donteea Dye 78 yards receiving 1 TD
Atlanta – Matt Ryan 241 yards 2 TD’s, Devonta Freeman 94 yards rushing 2 TD’s, Julio Jones 118 yards receiving 1 TD

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