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Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28
Atlanta Falcons 43

This turned out to be a fairly straight forward win for the Falcons as they eased away in the second half and withstood a late push from the Buccaneers when the game was already out of reach.

The Buccaneers started off the game well, their opening drive going for a touchdown as their offence moved the ball, particularly through the air. The problem for them was however the costly mistakes they made rather than general bad play. In many games, throwing for two hundred and sixty-one yards and three touchdowns would win you the game, but sadly whilst Mike Evans caught eleven balls for one hundred and fifty of those yards as well as two of the touchdowns, he also had too many drops. If you are a Bucs fan Evans must be a frustrating player as he is capable of great catches, and made a spectacular one handed grab near the side line in this game, but he also drops easy balls that a receiver of his quality should really catch. There were plenty of other players catching the ball, but the real problems were a combination of the running game where the Buccaneers have lots of injuries, and turnovers with the Buccaneers fumbling the ball twice and were lucky to only give up field goals off these turnovers. One of the fumbles was particularly bad as a problem with the hand-off was exacerbated by defensive end Adrian Clayborn getting into the backfield and disrupting the play allowing linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to knock the ball out of Antone Smith’s hands. The other was again in the first quarter when Jameis Winston was trying a quarterback sneak to pick up a first down on third and one. However, the inability of the Bucs to sustain drives meant that they could not keep up with the top ranked offence by DVOA in the league.

The Falcons defence is not even in the top twenty of the league by DVOA, but it is doing enough for them to win games. The Buccaneers had success moving the ball through the air, but the Falcons defence did enough against the run and rushed the passer enough to get them the win. The combination of players in the front seven is starting to come together with Vic Beasley beginning to develop in his second year, even if he isn’t the pass rusher they had hoped for, but combined with Adrian Clayborn and others the Falcons managed three sacks and eight quarterback hits in this game. They are not a particularly good defence, but they are trending in the right direction and if they can keep doing enough whilst the Falcons offence is this good then they should keep winning games.

The Falcons offence just kept rolling in this one, with Matt Ryan throwing for three hundred and forty-four yards and four touchdowns. Julio Jones started the game quietly in the first quarter, but finished the game with one hundred and eleven yards and a touchdown. Fellow receiver Taylor Gabriel caught the eye with his speed, catching five passes for fifty-two yards with a long of twenty-six, but also running for twenty-four yards after taking two hand-offs whilst in motion. Devonta Freeman fan for over four yards a carry as he racked up seventy-seven yards and the team managed a total of one hundred and thirty-six yards on the ground. Balance seems to be the watchword for the Falcons this year, with the running game working well in tandem with the passing game, Mohamed Sanu establishing himself as the second receiver opposite Julio Jones. In fact Matt Ryan had seven different players catch the ball in this game, and with an offensive line that is playing well, it is easy to see why the Falcons have looked as good as anyone on offence this year.

The Buccaneers defence struggled in this game, often the Falcons were able to attack the seams of their zone coverage when passing the ball, and whilst the Buccaneers had to sustain drives for long periods to score, the Falcons frequently were able to get long plays in the air. The Bucs defence was able to make the Falcons kick field goals a couple of times, but they only generated one turnover and the Falcons did not have to punt the ball once. They did manage to get eight quarterback hits but Gerald McCoy was often doubled teamed and he was only able to get one sack as for the most part this defence did not catch the eye. That is perhaps is not surprising given the offence they were playing against, but it does make me want to go to the coaching tape at some point to find out if I can see a bit more clearly what is going on.

Overall the Falcons are now 6-3, and are the better team. They were able to keep sustaining their success, particularly on offence and ran out easy winners, scoring over forty points for the third time this season. They got off to a great start last year but could not sustain it, but things look to be a bit more stable this year although there are some tough games against the Eagles, Cardinals, and Chiefs on the horizon.

The Buccaneers looked okay on offence, but they are struggling to run the ball thanks to injuries, whilst their defence still needs work. They went 6-10 last season, and having gone 3-5 in the first half this year, it does not look like they are going to be improving on that record particularly soon.