Falcons - Buccaneers: Three key matchups when the Bucs have the ball

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 18: Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hands off to LeGarrette Blount #27 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 18, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images)

Here are my three key matchups for Sunday's game on offense. 

Donald Penn vs John Abraham
Penn is facing elite pass rusher after elite pass rusher early this season. In the first two weeks he did a decent job against Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jared Allen, but now he faces John Abraham. The veteran pass rusher has two sacks in two games this season, and will be looking to add a few more. 

Last year Penn clearly struggled to contain John Abraham, as Abraham's speed and power both gave him problems. While that was never enough to really stop the offense from succeeding, Penn can make it a lot easier on Freeman by playing well versus his regular nemesis. 

Josh Freeman vs Brent Grimes
Brent Grimes is Josh Freeman's kryptonite. Grimes has snared three interceptions off the Tampa Bay quarterback, more than any other player. Grimes played a big role in stopping the Bucs late in both games last year, perhaps single-handedly keeping the Pewter Pirates out of the playoffs. 

If the Bucs want to win, Freeman can't keep throwing that ball into Brent Grimes hands. Either he has to start avoiding the diminutive cornerback or he has to find a way to beat him. With the Bucs receivers struggling to get open the past two weeks this will be a very interesting matchup. 

Legarrette Blount vs Curtis Lofton
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made it abundantly clear that they do not want to run a spread offense. Instead, they want to pound the ball inside and then hit big plays on play-action passes. For the Bucs to run their preferred style of offense they need Blount to run downhill and run through linebacker tackles. Curtis Lofton is the Falcons middle linebacker, so beating him will be key to getting the running game on track. And once the running game is on track, the passing game should follow. 

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