After shaky starts for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons, the two NFC South rivals will have a chance to get their seasons on the right track in a Week 3 Thursday Night Football matchup. The Buccaneers will be forced to go on the road on a short week, not exactly an optimal situation for a team still looking for its first win. Atlanta looked great at home in Week 1, but failed to replicate that performance on the road last week.
Had it not been for a lesser-known rule that involved a clock runoff, the Buccaneers very likely would have won their Week 2 matchup against the St. Louis Rams. Instead, they fell to 0-2 and face the challenge of reversing that momentum on a three-week stretch of road games, beginning with a trip to Atlanta on Thursday. Despite a solid rushing attack, the Bucs have really struggled offensively. The passing game hasn't produced. Tampa Bay is 31st in the league in passing yards and 22nd in yards per attempt.
While the Falcons struggled to get things going against the Bengals in Week 2, there are plenty of promising signs in Atlanta. With healthy weapons once again, the Falcons' offense ranks No. 1 in the NFL in total yardage through two weeks, although four turnovers have left them without the points to show for it. Matt Ryan and the offense lit up the Saints in Week 1 with Ryan finishing with 448 passing yards. Cincinnati may have the best defense in the NFL, so the Week 2 struggles might not be a sign of things to come. How Atlanta fares at home against Tampa Bay could be an indicator of how this season will go.
Here are your media details for Thursday's matchup:
How to Watch
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.
When: 8:25 p.m. ET
TV: CBS, NFL Network
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms (CBS)
Radio: Buccaneers: WFUS 103.5 FM, WDAE 620 AM | Falcons: 92.9 The Game, 790 The Zone
Online Streaming: Verizon NFL Mobile
Nuts and Bolts
The Buccaneers struggled with some key losses in Week 2 that contributed to their loss to the Rams. Namely, they were missing Doug Martin, who was a late scratch with a knee injury. Martin, who had just 9 yards rushing in the Tampa Bay opener, would presumably provide a spark for the Buccaneers' offense, although Bobby Rainey shined in Martin's place, accumulating 144 yards rushing on 22 carries against the Rams.
The injury report for the Falcons is relatively clean, although they were without rookie left tackle Jake Matthews against the Bengals. If he returns to face the Buccaneers, the Atlanta offense would greatly benefit as Lamar Holmes struggled badly against the Cincinnati defensive line.