Both squads — the visiting Atlanta Falcons and the home team Tampa Bay Buccaneers play in the South Division of the National Football Conference (NFC). The Falcons are in second place with a Won-Loss record of 6-5 while the Buccaneers find themselves in third place with a Won-Loss record of 5-6.
Interestingly, each team is hopelessly behind the squad in first place, the Carolina Panthers, the NFL’s only undefeated squad with a Won-Loss record of 11-0. Clearly, first place is out-of-reach and the only remaining route to the playoffs for the Falcons and the Buccaneers is via a Wild Card.
There are two Wild Cards available and both teams have a chance to win one. But, there are many competitors with similar Won-Loss records. In order to continue playing in January, the team from “the gateway to the South” and the squad from central Florida will have to win most, if not all, of its remaining games.
It won’t be easy for either squad and the winning streak, if it exists, will have to begin this Sunday in Tampa Bay. Atlanta, a squad that won its first five games, has been performing poorly for the past several weeks and has lost five of its last six games. The Falcons, led by slumping franchise quarterback Matt Ryan, are absolutely desperate for a win. Falcons fans will be looking for their star wideout, Julio Jones, to dominate against the young Bucs team.
Tampa Bay, a young squad with developing players, will line up behind its rookie quarterback, Jameis Winston, when the game with the Falcons starts at 1 PM on Sunday.
Winston was the first player chosen in this year’s NFL Draft and his performance this year has been inconsistent. In games where he has played well, the Buccaneers have won. When the first year quarterback’s on-field performance has been spotty, his squad has lost.
However, when both teams “hit the gridiron” a few days from now, desperation will be in the air, the home crowd will be tense and on edge and play on the field is likely to be spirited and hard-hitting. This is clearly a “must win” contest for both teams.
Atlanta has been in free-fall for more than a month, but can still salvage its season and play in January if it starts winning right now. That means this Sunday. The Buccaneers are very much a “team on the rise,” filled with young players. Inconsistent performances have led to its losing record, but Tampa Bay can play well and win.
Fans who attend the game and those that watch it on TV can expect lots of hard-hitting by defenders on both teams with rugged and determined play from offenses and defenses and a close game that will probably be decided at the very end of the fourth quarter.
Courtesy of Tampabay.com