In Week 1, Matt Ryan and the Falcons gave us a view of this team’s upside.
In Week 2, they showed us their ugly alternate universe.
So projecting what happens tonight, even against the apparently horrible Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is risky. But if the Falcons had to pick an opponent in this situation — a short week and coming off a bad game — they might choose Tampa.
The Bucs are 0-2. They’ve lost to two backup quarterbacks, Carolina’s Derek Anderson and St. Louis’s Austin Davis (19-17). Tampa is in the early stages of a transition/reconstruction under coach Lovie Smith and the team isn’t near a finished product lately. They have a solid rotation of running backs on the roster with Doug Martin (currently out with a knee injury), Bobby Rainey (26 carries for 156 yards) and Charles Sims, but the offense behind quarterback Josh McCown has struggled, which is probably just what the Falcons’ maligned defense needs. The Bucs rank 28th in yardage and 27th in scoring.
New Orleans and Cincinnati each totaled 472 yards in offense but the Falcons were fortunate to win the first game off of Matt Ryan’s arm and Matt Bryant’s foot. Atlanta is the only team in the league without a sack through two games. They figure to struggle in that area all season but it would be nice to see some semblance of a pass rush against a weaker opponent.
Offensively, the Falcons will be without wide receiver Roddy White (hamstring). But they should be able to mount an effective enough to win this game. If not, it doesn’t project well for the end of the season.
Tonight’s actives: The Falcons are sitting White, tackle Ryan Schaeder (as Jake Matthews returns from an ankle injury), third quarterback Sean Renfree, cornerback Javier Arenas, linebacker Tyler Starr and defensive tackle Cliff Matthews. The Bucs’ scratches include injured starters Martin and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (hand).
I’ll be here live blogging during the game, so feel free to throw your questions and comments but preferably no rocks in this directions.
EARLIER TODAY: Weekend Predictions: Falcons win, NFL and Tech lose
— AJC: Falcons win, Jackets lose, Goodell cowers — AJC: Braves see Nats celebrate, and Pirates may do same — MyAJC: Fredi Gonzalez: ‘It’s my team, I take full responsibility’ — AJC: Braves’ opponents often celebrates here — MyAJC: Falcons let everybody see their ugly side — AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ loss to Cincinnati — MyAJC: Georgia Tech has problems, but it also has Justin Thomas — AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s narrow escape — AJC: Danny Ferry takes leave but Hawks won’t change with this ownership — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons (real ones) over Saints — AJC: Hawks giving lessons on how not to contain a fire — AJC: Goodell was at Masters when Rice video arrived at office — AJC: Adam Silver, Magic Johnson see Ferry-Deng differently — MyAJC: Only cure: All Hawks’ owners and Ferry must go — AJC: Levenson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar miss point about Atlanta — MyAJC: Levenson gone but timing raises questions — AJC: Hawks’ Levenson has ugly exit because of email — MyAJC: Matt Ryan wouldn’t let Falcons lose — MyAJC: Georgia Tech still looks wobbly at 2-0 — AJC: Short takes on Tech’s 38-21 win over Tulane — AJC: Live blog: Tech tries to spoil Tulane’s party — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons (real ones) over Saints — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons (real ones) over Saints — AJC: Video evidence of Stephen Garcia hitting bottom — MyAJC: Falcons need Mike Nolan to create an illusion — AJC: Michael Sam not being viewed as just a player — MyAJC: With Todd Gurley, possibilities are endless — AJC: Short takes: Georgia 45, Clemson 21 — AJC: Cantor’s magic tallis has cure to Braves’ problems (on Fridays) — AJC: Weekend Predictions (no lie): Dogs over Clemson — MyAJC: Richt, Georgia need another highlight — MyAJC: Braves CEO Terry McGuirk vows ‘Everybody accountable’ — MyAJC: Full Q&A with Braves CEO Terry McGuirk — AJC: On Braves, McGuirk and repairing baseball