With their backs against the wall, the Falcons find themselves in another must-win game. An injury-plagued season has put the Falcons in a position that many did not expect. A loss today could completely wipe them out and we could soon be talking about the NFL Draft. In the meantime, let’s take a look at what to watch against Tampa Bay.

Offensive Line

Matt Ryan has already been hit 45 times this season, putting him on pace for the most in his career. The Falcons offensive line came into the season as a top 5 unit, but have yet to show that potential. All-Pro center Alex Mack has not been himself early this season and right tackle Ryan Schrader has looked a step slow.

There is time for this unit to start clicking and I expect them to get it figured out. But the time is limited and they need to be clicking on all cylinders if we expect the offense to score at a high rate. This is a unit worth watching today as the Buccaneers present a daunting defensive line. We should be paying close attention to these battles.

Defensive Line

I decided to break the two units up this week because I think they both deserve to be highlighted. Outside of Takk McKinley, the Falcons have produced zero pass rush and it’s a big reason the defense can’t get off of the field. We need to pay heavy attention to this today because star defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is out again.

Who is going to step up? Who is going to be the player that sparks the defense? We have been waiting all season for that spark and it hasn’t happened. The defense has allowed over 40 points a game the last three weeks and it starts up front.

Big Day From Wide Receivers

I fully expect the Falcons wide receivers to get the better of Tampa Bay secondary. This could be the week that Julio Jones scores a touchdown, who has been scoreless since week 12 of last season. It’s often a statistic that is completely overblown by outside sources but this could be the week for him.

Almost every position on the field has an advantage on the Buccaneers secondary and this could lead to another high scoring contest. Most defenses are going to have a tough time matching up with the Falcons weapons but the Buccaneers will especially struggle.

Bottom Line

The Falcons need to win, there is no need to sugar coat it. The next man up approach can only work for so long but this team has a favorable schedule over the next several weeks. This game gives the Falcons a chance to get back on track and could be in prime position when middle linebacker Deion Jones returns in week 10.

Rise Up!

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