I'm not sure there is a team in the NFL that can try and spin a 1-7 record into a positive like the Bucs. The defense is not getting better. The left tackle spot is not fixed with Oneil Cousins. Josh McCown will not work the 2nd time around. Those are the things we're hearing as the Bucs enter Sunday's matchup with the Falcons.
I don't need to remind you of what happened the first time these two teams met. Unfortunately, I believe there is a better chance of that result being duplicated than the Bucs coming out with a win.
While some optimistic Bucs fans and media members will try and tell you the Bucs defense is improving, the fact is that the defense did look slightly better against inferior offenses. Against top 10 quarterbacks this year (Flacco, Brees, Roethlisberger, Ryan) the Bucs defense, and in particular the secondary, has been shredded. With Alterraun Verner likely out on Sunday, it's hard to imagine Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White not having big days again.
Offensively for the Bucs, it is the return of Josh McCown. Not excited? Neither is anyone else. McCown was awful as a starter earlier in the season, including the game against the Falcons, and most likely he'll be awful again. The good news for the Bucs should be that the Falcons defense is terrible. However, that same terrible Falcons defense dominated the Bucs offense earlier this season.
Bucs fans will get their first view of rookie running back Charles Sims. Doug Martin is likely on his way out of Tampa Bay and Bobby Rainey has been decent, but nothing special. Sims has been compared, in style, to Matt Forte of the Bears. Sims ability as a receiver out of the backfield will likely be on display Sunday. I expect Sims to get around 10 touches on the game.
As Greg Linnelli pointed out on this site, the Bucs must do a better job with Devin Hester if they want to keep this game close. The last time these two teams played, the brilliant gameplan for the Bucs special teams was to kick it directly to Hester and hope the coverage unit could get him to the ground. They didn't, and the Bucs got blown out.
The weather should be beautiful on Sunday, but the attendance and the outcome might not be.
PREDICTION: Falcons win 38-20
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