Bucs schedule analysis — Week 10

The BucsBlitz.com schedule analysis continues with the Bucs' first meeting with the Atlanta Falcons.

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Each day for the next 16 days, BucsBlitz.com's Matthew Postins will take a quick look at each game on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2007 schedule. Some things to keep in mind:

Tampa Bay opens on the road for the fourth time in the last five years. The Bucs are 3-1 in that situation.

The Bucs have the third-easiest schedule in the NFL in 2007, by winning percentage.

The Bucs have just one prime-time game scheduled, Dec. 23 at San Francisco. That start time could change if NBC chooses to exercise its "flex scheduling" option for that week.

Tampa Bay at Atlanta, 1 p.m., FOX, Nov. 18

The Falcons swept the Bucs last year.

The Falcons lost some key players, including DE Patrick Kerney, FB Justin Griffith, CB Kevin Mathis, G Matt Lehr and QB Matt Schaub. In their places come QB Joey Harrington, WR Joe Horn, and FB Ovie Mughelli.

The losses of Kerney and Mathis could hurt more than people think, if the Falcons don't draft well. This defense doesn't scream "scary" to me right now, though a fully healthy John Abraham may change my mind completely. Horn gives QB Michael Vick a reliable, if aging, target. And the Falcons still have the game's best ground attack and only lost Lehr on the line, a loss that can be replaced without much fuss. Vick is the key to this game. If the Bucs face the Vick they saw early last season, there may be no stopping the Falcons. If it's the Vick that showed up late in 2005, when the Bucs beat them at Raymond James, the Bucs have a real chance to win. I think the Bucs defense will be much better this year, and more likely to keep up with Vick. I think the Bucs steal one on the road, if no other reason than they're coming off the bye week and should be relatively healthy.

Final score: Tampa Bay 22, Atlanta 19. Record: 6-4

— Matthew Postins


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