Bucs (2-2) at Falcons (1-4)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, MercedesBenz Stadium, Atlanta
Danny Sheridan’s line: Falcons by 3 1 ⁄2
Buccaneers’ keys to victory: Tampa Bay is coming off a bye week and will be starting QB Jameis Winston, who has thrown 12 career touchdown passes against Atlanta; his best against any other team is five. The Buccaneers need their talented pass-catching group to take advantage of a Falcons secondary that is missing both of its starting safeties. Tampa’s defensive line will try to pressure Falcons QB Matt Ryan, who was under constant pressure against Pittsburgh. The critical element for the Bucs is improvement in the secondary; over the first four games of the season, they allowed more passing touchdowns (13) than any other team.
Falcons’ keys to victory: The offensive line has to do a much better job protecting Ryan than it did in the Week 5 41-17 loss to the Steelers. Atlanta also should look to get WR Julio Jones more involved in the red zone; he has 34 receptions and 55 targets through five games but has yet to score a touchdown. Defensively, the Falcons sorely miss LB Deion Jones, and their tackling has not been acceptable since he went on injured reserve.
Matchup to watch: Buccaneers WR Mike Evans vs. Falcons CB Desmond Trufant. Evans’ size makes him a difficult matchup for any cornerback. He is 3 inches taller and has 40 pounds on Trufant, who cannot allow him to get over the top.
Who wins? Tampa Bay always seems to bring its A game against Atlanta, and the Falcons’ spirit might be broken after such a difficult start to the season.