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Key Matchups: Buccaneers vs. Falcons

Posted Oct 18, 2013

Among the head-to-head battles to keep an eye on Sunday in the Georgia Dome will be Vincent Jackson, the Bucs' top pass-catcher, working to get open against veteran CB Asante Samuel

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5) will take on the Atlanta Falcons (1-4) Sunday at the Georgia Dome.  Here are several head-to-head matchups that could go a long way towards determining the game's final outcome:

Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson vs. Falcons CB Asante Samuel
Last week, Vincent Jackson hauled in nine catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns. It was his second-highest single-game reception total and the eighth game of his career with two or more touchdowns. This season, he is second in the NFL in producing first downs per catch, with 22 of his 26 receptions moving the chains. The Falcons’ defense has been susceptible to the pass this season, allowing seven WR touchdowns and three receivers to eclipse the 100-yard mark. With WR Mike Williams potentially not at 100% due to a hamstring strain, Jackson has stepped up as Mike Glennon’s favorite target and should see a lot more attention this Sunday.  CB Asante Samuel, who Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano appreciatively referred to as a "dangerous player" on Friday is a big-play threat of his own and should see a lot of Jackson.
-- WR Vincent Jackson will face the NFL's 26th-ranked pass defense

Falcons WR Harry Douglas vs. Buccaneers CB Darrelle Revis
The Falcons will be without their top receiver, Julio Jones, for the rest of the season. Longtime star Roddy White also looks to be a game-time decision due to an ankle injury that has limited him for weeks and he could miss the first game in his eight-plus year career. If so, third receiver Harry Douglas bumps up to the #1 position, which could match him up with Darrelle Revis for a good portion of the afternoon. Douglas has 16 receptions for 219 yards this season but he will be asked to up his production in order to keep the Matt Ryan-led Atlanta passing attack (313 net yards per game) in a groove.  Revis will try to make sure that doesn't happen.

Buccaneers TE Tim Wright vs. Falcons S William Moore
Tim Wright made a name for himself last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and will look to continue his performance this week in Atlanta. In the last three games, Wright has 13 receptions – nine have resulted in a first down, six have come on third down. In the last two games, with Mike Glennon under center, Wright has 12 receptions for 132 yards. The Falcons have surrendered 250 yards and five touchdowns to opposing TEs this year, including 80 yards and two scores to the Jets in their last game. However, the back end of the Atlanta secondary is patrolled by a very experienced and productive safety in fourth-year man William Moore.  Moore leads the team with 47 tackles (nearly 10 per game) and has also broken up two passes.

Bucs RBs Doug Martin & Mike James vs. Falcons RBs Jacquizz Rodgers & Jason Snelling
That's a matchup on the stat sheet only, as those four backs won't be able to do much to stop each other, besides keeping their own offenses on the field.  Still, the winners of this statistical battle will likely be winners on the scoreboard, as well.  The Buccaneers are clearly determined to establish the run, with Doug Martin averaging 23 carries per game, and they also started to involve rookie Mike James a bit more last week.  Atlanta's defense, however, ranks sixth in the NFL in stopping opposing ground attacks.  Meanwhile, the Falcons' rushing attack is producing just 78.4 yards per game but Rodgers and Snelling have both emerged as dual rushing/receiving threats while starter Steven Jackson has been out with a thigh injury.  Rodgers has 286 yards from scrimmage and Snelling has 245, and both will try to find a way either through or – in the passing game – around the Bucs' 13th-ranked run defense.