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Buccaneers vs. Falcons: Avoiding embarrassment

The Bucs face the Falcons on Sunday, and big tactical previews don't make a lot of season. The Bucs still have something to play for, though.

Al Messerschmidt

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the chance to salvage some positive feelings from this season tomorrow. It doesn't matter if the Atlanta Falcons line up their best players or their worst, the team can do one thing to prove something has changed: they can play hard.

The past few weeks have been embarrassing to say the least. Losing a close game to the wretched Philadelphia Eagles, getting blown out by the New Orleans Saints and then losing in another near-blowout to the horrible St. Louis Rams. It's been one disappointing end to the season, and that won't help Schiano get his message across to the team going forward. Ending the season with a win would at least go some way toward helping fans feel good about a wretched season.

If the Bucs manage to lose tomorrow, though, the difference between this season and last season seems mostly academic. Yes, the Bucs were competitive and they played much more disciplined football. But six consecutive losses versus ten consecutive losses -- that's not a huge difference. Especially so when you consider the fact that the Bucs faced one of the easiest schedules in the league.

Can the Bucs prove that their secondary can at least stop someone? Can Josh Freeman show off his mid-season form, instead of his late-season slump? Can the Bucs at least save some face against the Atlanta Falcons, even if they're playing against backups? Or will we end Greg Schiano's first season on a huge down note, and an inability to win even one of the last six games?