WHERE: Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia
HEAD COACH: Dan Reeves (0-3 vs. Bucs' head coach Tony Dungy while the Falcons' head coach).
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: George Sefcik
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Don Blackmon
SPECIAL TEAMS COACH: Joe DeCamillis
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Buccaneers' DE Ellis Wyms vs. Falcons' QB Michael Vick. Although he is only a rookie, Vick can beat teams with his arm and legs. Vick has been impressive this preseason. He has struggled at times, but for the most part, Coach Reeves feels like Vick is ahead of schedule. Vick and the Falcons would like nothing more than to show the Buccaneers' defense what they are in for when these two teams are realigned into the NFC South Division next year and start playing each other at least twice a season.
Wyms was the second of Tampa Bay's two sixth round draft picks in April and is fighting for a roster spot. The fact that Wyms plays both defensive tackle and defensive end has increased his chances of securing a roster spot. Wyms has also shown some impressive pass rushing ability in camp and preseason. Wyms and the Bucs' defense must respect and contain Vick's game in order to leave Atlanta with a win in their preseason finale.
BACK ON TRACK Pro Bowl FB Mike Alstott will play in his first preseason game of the season against Atlanta after being sidelined with a pulled hamstring since the beginning of training camp. Alstott is expected to participate in 12-15 plays against the Dirty Birds and is also expected to be the team's starting fullback on opening day at Dallas. One of Alstott's most memorable career moments took place against the Falcons when he set a single-game high with a 47-yard touchdown run against at Atlanta in November of 1997.
SURVIVOR: PART TWO The players who survived roster cuts earlier this week can not breath a sigh of relief just yet. The Buccaneers are required by the NFL to cut their roster down to 53 players by the Sunday after the Bucs-Falcons game. The Buccaneers currently have 71 players on their roster, which means the action that takes place after the starters leave the game could be the most interesting and entertaining of the night.
CONCUSSIONLESS IN ATLANTA Well, at least the Falcons' hope they will not have any of their quarterbacks suffer anymore concussions. When the Bucs and Falcons met last season, Tampa Bay's defense sacked starting QB Chris Chandler on three consecutive plays. After the last sack, Chandler had to leave the game with a concussion.
FLYNN'S FINAL: Sure, the Buccaneers would love to end the preseason with a win over the Falcons, but there is a much more important goal they will strive to obtain on Friday night. Tampa Bay will be perfectly content if they can have all of their starters play a series or two and leave the game without injury. The Buccaneers would also like the rest of their team to stay relatively healthy, but having their starters remain injury-free would be the biggest victory of all.
When Falcons' QB Michael Vick lines up against the Bucs' defense, it will be the first of many showdowns between these two. Yes, Tampa Bay should fear Vick's arm and scrambling ability, but the Buccaneers' should be all too familiar with a quarterback like Vick. In the last season, the Buccaneers have faced similar style quarterbacks like Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper, Ex-Bears' QB Cade McNown, Bills' QB Rob Johnson, Dolphins' QB Jay Fiedler and Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb. Tampa Bay has fared well against this type of diverse quarterback in the past because their defense is so dependent on speed and possesses such unique open field tackling ability. Perhaps Vick will be a sneak preview for what Tampa Bay is in for when they open the season at Dallas against another elusive quarterback-Quincy Carter.
FLYNN'S PICK: Buccaneers 27 Falcons 6
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