WR Mike Evans vs CB Desmond Trufant
Mike Evans had a breakout game last week when he managed two touchdowns and 124 receiving yards on seven catches. And he would have had two more long touchdowns, had Mike Glennon not consistently underthrown the big man. Evans has arrived, and my bet is he's here to stay.
And there's no better opponent than the Atlanta Falcons to continue his breaking out, as no team has allowed more net yards per attempt through the air than the Atlanta Falcons, and only two have allowed more total yards. Simply put: the Falcons are horrible at defending pass across the board -- even worse than the Bucs, really. And Mike Evans' speed and size should be ideal -- as long as Josh McCown can find it in himself to actually throw the rookie the ball.
The Falcons have issues at every position on defense, but cornerback and safety are real problem areas. Desmond Trufant is not having a good second season, and the lack of a pass rush as well as the inability of safeties to cover for mistakes on the part of the cornerbacks has led to some pretty awful performances. Here's to Mike Evans taking advantages of that.
T Oniel Cousins vs DE Osi Umenyiora
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will almost certainly be without starting left tackle Anthony Collins on Sunday, which means Oniel Cousins will get his second ever start at that position. Yay! Cousins was a complete disaster at offensive guard during the preseason, so much so that the Bucs overpaid for Logan Mankins, but he actually looked fairly solid when asked to start last week -- so there's that.
You would expect an experienced veteran like Umenyiora to take advantage of Cousins' inexperience, but then I expected him to be a disaster last week, too. Plus, Umenyiora has been pretty much useless this year, as has the rest of the Falcons pass rush. He has exactly one sack, which...well, that's not very good.
Still, if anyone on the Falcons' line can consistently beat Cousins, it's Umenyiora. And if someone can consistently beat Cousins, Josh McCown is not going to start tossing stupid interceptions again. And that would cost the Bucs the game.
RB Bobby Rainey vs LB Paul Worrilow
The Buccaneers would like to run their offense through the running game. They haven't been able to do that much this year, but that changed the last couple of weeks. Bobby Rainey has been important to the limited success the Bucs have had in running the ball, and he'll have to step up again this week.
And to do so, Rainey is going to have to make people miss in the hole. That small thing that Doug Martin hasn't been capable of since his rookie season. Rainey has looked fairly solid when he hasn't been fumbling the football, and Paul Worrilow and Joplu Bartu aren't exactly world-beaters at linebacker. Plus, the Falcons run defense has been kind of blurgh, so this is very doable.
One additional factor helping the Bucs' running game is the anticipated debut of Charles Sims. The rookie should be able to take some of the load off Rainey's hands, especially on passing downs, and he's a little more explosive than Rainey, too. He should bring a different dimension to the running game, too.
And all of that will help keep the pressure of Josh McCown. Which, given his earlier performances, is desperately needed.