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Preview: Falcons at Buccaneers

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally have their first win - now they have a chance to create some company in the NFC South cellar. The Buccaneers will try to make it two straight when they host the struggling Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The Falcons hope to snap out of their funk by continuing their dominance over Tampa Bay, as they've won eight of the past 10 meetings including a 31-23 home victory in Week 7.

Atlanta has lost three straight - the last two by a combined 47 points - and doesn't look anything like the team that played in the NFC Championship a year ago. "This season is not over," Falcons coach Mike Smith told reporters. "I know people want to say doom and gloom. That is not the case." It hasn't been rosy, though, a sentiment the Buccaneers shared until breaking through for a 22-19 victory over Miami on Monday night.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, Fox. LINE: Atlanta -1.5. O/U: 43.5.

ABOUT THE FALCONS (2-7): Atlanta has been plagued by turnovers - it's minus-8 in that department - as well as injuries to several standouts on both sides of the ball. The hits continue this week with tight end Tony Gonzalez (toe) missing practice Wednesday and receiver Roddy White (shoulder) and running back Steven Jackson (toe) limited. The Falcons should get linebacker Sean Weatherspoon back this week after missing seven games with a foot injury, which would help a defense that ranks in the bottom fourth of the league in most categories.

ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (1-8): Tampa Bay's offense ranks 31st among 32 teams in total yards and scoring, and the unit took another hit when running back Mike James suffered a season-ending broken ankle. James had proven a viable plan B after losing Doug Martin for the season, and now the workload falls to Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey to continue the improved ground game that has powered much-improved efforts the past two weeks. The defense has been solid, especially against the run, and limited Miami to 213 total yards and two rushing yards.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Falcons are 34-2 when Ryan starts and has a rating of 100 or better, a plateau he has reached only three times this season.

2. Tampa Bay rookie QB Mike Glennon has made big strides since taking over the starting role in Week 4, throwing six TD passes and only one interception over the past four games.

3. Gonzalez has a catch in 204 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in NFL history, and needs three receptions to reach 50 for an NFL-record 16th consecutive season.

PREDICTION: Falcons 23, Buccaneers 20

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/131117/preview-falcons-at-buccaneers