Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

5 things to know before today's Falcons at Bucs kickoff

Here are 5 things to mull over before today’s 1 p.m. kickoff between the Falcons (6-5) and the Buccaneers (5-6) at Raymond James Stadium.

(Report: Lamar Holmes waived. No one left from 2012 draft class.)

1. GERALD MCCOY UPDATE:  Tampa Bay's All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had left hand surgery and did not practice on Thursday. He leads the Bucs with seven sacks. McCoy hopes to play according to Roy Cummings on the Tampa Tribune. He's officially listed as doubtful. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has missed the last nigh games with a shoulder injury, may play.

2. DEVIN HESTER UPDATE: Falcons returner Devin Hester was activated on Friday and is expected to play. Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson was released to make room for Hester.

3. THE RETURN OF FREEMAN: Running back Devonta Freeman is set to make his return. He missed last week's game while recovering from a concussion he suffered against the Colts. Freeman has rushed for  764 yards and nine touchdowns as well as gaining 420 yards receiving with two touchdowns. “Devonta is a huge part not only of our offense, but of our team,” Ryan said. “The addition of Devonta and his versatility, the ability to use him in all facets of the game I think is huge for us.”

4. PLAYOFF PICTURE: Basically, the playoffs start now for the Falcons. They can't afford to drop to 6-6 and be tied with the Buccaneers, who would then hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over them. With the Packers winning on the Aaron Rodgers' Hail Marry to move to 8-4, there's basically one open spot, which Seattle holds now at 6-5. The Seahawks play at Minnesota (8-3) at  1 p.m. Other games to watch include the New York Jets at the New York Giants (5-6) at 1 p.m., San Francisco at Chicago (5-6) at 1 p.m. and Dallas at Washington (5-6) at 8:30 p.m. Monday night. The Falcons have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Giants and Washington.

5. SERIES RECORD: This will be the 45th regular season meeting between the Falcons and the Buccaneers. The series is tied, 22-22. The Bucs defeated the Falcons 23-20 in overtime on Nov. 1 at the Georgia Dome. They are going for their first sweep of the Falcons since 2010.


Falcons must eventually replace Matt Ryan

Hester hopes to contribute against Bucs

Key Matchups: Falcons at Bucs

Philip Wheeler a great addition for the Falcons

QB corner: Matt Ryan on the Bucs

Bucs center Joe Hawley eager to see Falcons again

Bucs QB Jamies Winston is developing ahead of schedule

Matt Ryan knows the turnovers must stop

MINNESOTA GAME COVERAGE -- Vikings 20, Falcons 10

5 things we learned from the 20-10 loss to the Vikings

What the Falcons had to say after the loss

12 comments from Dan Quinn on the Falcons' loss

Ryan goes into detail about his interceptions

Quarter-by-Quarter: How the Falcons lost 20-10 to the Vikings

White feels team got complacent after 5-0 start

Falcons rookie Coleman fumbles again

Falcons defense pulling its weight

Falcons fans jeer Ryan after his second interception


5 things we learned in the Falcons' 23-20 loss to the Bucs

How the Falcons lost to the Bucs in OT

10 comments from Dan Quinn after the loss to the Bucs

Adams disagreed with overtime pass interference call

Matt Ryan's miscues help to gift the Bucs' 20 points

QUOTEBOARD: What the Falcons were saying after the 23-20 loss to the Bucs

Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston bests his role model: 'Mr. Ryan'

Falcons defense holds up, but forces no turnovers

Falcons rallied behind wide receiver Julio Jones

Bucs rookie linebacker Alexander dedicates win to


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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.