This is the last regular season game of the NFL season for the Falcons who have already clenched a play-off birth as a wild card team, and the last game of the year for the Bucs who want to try and salvage their losing season. Both the Falcons and the Bucs want to close the regular season with a win, and the Georgia Dome will be the site of the battlefield where these two NFC South teams collide for the second time this season.
Tampa Bay suffered 11 loses so far this season including a devastating loss to the Panthers last week. The Bucs rank at the bottom of the NFL in almost all categories. The only place Tampa Bay is not suffering is in Passing yards. There Quarterback Josh Freeman has completed for 14 touchdowns. Last week Freeman was stopped by the Panther defense for only one touchdown. Despite injuries Freeman is listed as probable to play on Sunday against Atlanta. The Panther defense also capitalized on one interception. LeGarrette Blount will be looking to get more playtime this game. Last week he was pulled early after a mishandled snap. The Defense who was completely unable to stop Carolina last week. The Panthers were able to put 48 points up before the game was over. Last time The Bucs played Atlanta the Defense was much more successful only holding Atlanta to 13 points. That was the lowest total allowed by any team all year.
Atlanta for their part is coming off a hard loss against the Saints. The Defense was helpless to stop Drew Brees from breaking the single season passing record. Matt Ryan wants to end the regular season with a win. Ryan has been throwing constantly all season. Consistently meaning at least a touchdown in every game, however it also means he has almost been throwing a pick in every game. Despite this Atlanta ranks 7th in passing overall in the NFL. This did not do anything to help the last time Ryan faced the Bucs. He threw for one touchdown, one pick and not much else in the 13-16 loss. On the ground Michael Turner has ran for 284 carries for a total of 1168 yards. Against the Bucs he was shut down completely for only 20 yards on 11 carries. Atlanta will rely heavily on their defense who is looking for redemption after the Monday Night loss against the Saints. After letting Brees and company put up 45 points up against them they are ready to stop everything that comes their way. Against the Bucs, the Defense can stop the Pass and the Run. Even though Tampa Bay won in the last meeting, the Falcon defense was able to keep them under 20 points.
Both teams are meeting in Atlanta looking for a win. Tampa Bay will enter The Dome knowing that they can win against Atlanta. The last thing Tampa Bay wants for this season is to end on a 10 game losing streak. If they can manage to pull out a win, they won't go to the play-offs, but they will end their season with a better outlook for next year.
The Falcons want momentum. They will be entering the Play-Offs as a wild card. This means that they will have a hard game on the road. To win at home, against a team that has beaten them once already this year will help the Falcons gear up for the Play-Offs. Atlanta is focused on this game. This will be the last home game Atlanta has all year and they want to win at home for themselves and their fans. The Georgia Dome will be full and ready for this game.