Back in the days of “Fitz-magic” when the Buccaneers found themselves 2-0 and sitting atop the NFC South, this game looked like it might help decide someone’s playoff standing or even the division title.
But three months later, the Falcons and Buccaneers meet in an effort to avoid a last-place finish and go into the offseason on a high note.
Injuries destroyed the Falcons’ Super Bowl hopes. The loss of several defensive starters put them in the category of shootout teams along with the Rams and Chiefs.
Indeed, Matt Ryan is having a career season, but once Devonta Freeman went down, the running game vanished. A five-game losing streak followed a hopeful stretch that brought the Falcons to 4-4, but they couldn’t maintain the momentum.
Tampa Bay had high hopes, too. With some key additions to their defense, they expected to hold teams down enough to let their talented receiver group carry them to a winning season.
But after a promising first few games, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston started a stretch of multiple-interception games that the team could not overcome. Winston has played better in the last quarter in what might be an audition for a new team.
Injuries and notes
Atlanta running back Tevin Coleman could play in the finale, coming back from a groin injury.
Neither team reported new injuries or reports heading into the week. With nothing on the line but pride, both coaches are expected to play their regular starters.
Dan Quinn has been told he will return in 2019. Owner Arthur Blank understands the role injuries played and appreciates Quinn’s efforts in previous seasons.
Quinn is reportedly not as satisfied and could replace his coordinators. Despite Ryan’s fine statistical season, the Falcons’ offense has not appeared in synch for much of the year and that could spell the end for Steve Sarkisian in what Quinn called a “second chance” to make the offense as powerful as it was under Kyle Shanahan. Marquand Manuel might have taken too long to respond to defensive injuries, too.
Despite season-long rumors of the demise of Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter, the Glazer family is reportedly still mulling whether to bring him back for a fifth season or not. If they decide a fifth season of Koetter’s offensive prowess is in the cards, it will probably be with a new defensive coordinator to make better use of their defensive acquisitions.
How to watch the Buccaneers-Falcons game
Fox Sports will broadcast this game, which means you can watch it for free on Sling TV. Sling TV, like fellow internet TV providers Fubo and DirecTV Now, lets you try their service for a week with no obligation to subscribe.
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Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and Fubo TV don’t require any expensive equipment, nor do they ask you to sign any contracts. You just pay your subscription as you go and cancel any time without a penalty.
That is why so many NFL fans have cut the cord with cable and satellite to sign up for Sling TV, Fubo TV, and DirecTV Now. You should too. Go to their websites and join the internet TV revolution today!
Who will win the Buccaneers-Falcons game?
Both of these teams have talent superior to their records. But only one of them has a coach under fire. Look for Dirk Koetter’s team to put up a banner effort to save their coach’s position in front of the home crowd.
Final score: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 27