Watch the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter and Noah Coslov discuss the Falcons feelings about playing on Thursday night, getting Julio Jones ready and the defensive plan for Bucs QB Jameis Winston.
Here are 5 things to mull over before tonight's 8:25 p.m. kickoff between the Atlanta Falcons (5-3) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) at Raymond James Stadium.
1. Tale of the tape. Here's how the Falcons and Buccaneers stack up statistically:
2. Series Record. 47th regular-season meeting. The Buccaneers lead the series 24-22. The Bucs have on the last three meetings including the season opener, 31-24, at the Georgia Dome. They won the last meeting in Tampa, 23-19, on Dec. 6, 2015.
3. Key matchup. Falcons FB Patrick DiMarco and guards Andy Levitre and Chris Chester vs. Bucs LB Kwon Alexander:
Alexander shut down the Falcons’ rushing attack in the opener and helped to make the offense one-dimensional. He finished the game with 17 tackles. Levitre and Chester, when they have to move beyond the defensive linemen, must get their blocks on Alexander. When DiMarco is in the game as the lead blocker, he must win at the point of attack. Falcons running backs had only 42 yards on 19 carries in the opener.
4. Mid-season grades. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has tossed a league-high 19 touchdown passes this season.
Check out his grade and the rest of the team over the first eight games.
5. Stopping Jameis Winston. The Falcons are 0-3 vs. Tampa Bay second-year quarterback Jameis Winston. He is 6-14 in his other 22 starts in the NFL.
Here's how the Falcons plan to finally stop Winston.
GAME SEVEN: Chargers 33, Falcons 30 in OT
5 things we learned from the Falcons loss to the Chargers
Dan Quinn's gamble with house-money backfires
6 penalties 'unacceptable' for Falcons offensive line
Philip Rivers confounds Falcons with short passes: 'He picked us apart'
Matt Ryan's late-game interception leads to overtime loss
PHOTOS: Chargers rally to beat Falcons
GAME SIX: Seahawks 26, Falcons 24
5 things we learned from the Falcons loss to the Seahawks
MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons didn't win, but they made one guy believe (me)
MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons got jobbed but did themselves proud
Matt Ryan's turnovers were costly
What Dan Quinn had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle
Seattle slows down Falcons' running backs Freeman, Coleman
Ryan Schraeder, offensive line rebounds in second half
Julio Jones: 'It was just a missed call'
What the Falcons had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle
What Matt Ryan had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle
Richard Sherman non-commital on pass interference non-call
PHOTOS: Falcons at Seahawks in Seattle
GAME FIVE: Falcons 23, Broncos 16
5 things we learned from the Falcons upset of Super Bowl champs
MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons rock a rookie in the Rockies
What Dan Quinn have to say after the win over Denver
Coleman amassed 163 yards to power the offense
Vic Beasley has breakout game with 3.5 sacks
Kemal Ishmael moved to linebacker, led team in tackles
What the Falcons had to say after the win over the Broncos
Photos: Falcons battle the Broncos
GAME FOUR: Falcons 48, Panthers 33
5 things we learned from the Falcons' 48-33 win over the Panthers
Tweetcap: Falcons 48, Panthers 33
Old pro Freeney shows new trick with Falcons
Falcons' rookie Neal holds on vs. Olsen
What Julio Jones had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers
What Dan Quinn had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers
What Matt Ryan had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers
Alford battled; Collins to return
Early view in NFC South isn't what most expected; Falcons on top
GAME THREE: Falcons 45, Saints 32
5 things we learned from the Falcons' 45-32 win over the Saints
Falcons, Saints protest with unity circle before game
REPORT CARD: Falcons earned high marks for drubbing Saints
What Dan Quinn had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints
What Matt Ryan had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints
What the Falcons had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints
Keanu Neal makes strong debut for Falcons
Falcons' Deion Jones runs for glory, not survival, in return home
AJC POWER RANKINGS: Falcons best in NFC South?
GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28
5 things we learned from the Falcons' win over the Raiders
Trufant's heads-up play saves the day
Tight ends help to power offense
Weatherspoon plays strong in first start since 2013
Matthews, Schraeder held Mack sack-less
JEFF SCHULTZ: Falcons put on offensive show and win
What Matt Ryan had to say after beating the Raiders
What Dan Quinn had to say after the win over the Raiders
GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24
5 things we learned from the Falcons' loss to the Bucs
No sacks for new-look Falcons pass rush
Julio Jones not worried about his ankle injury
Falcons have a case of the "no-huddle" blues
REPORT CARD: Falcons can't 'gift' opponents 17 points
FILM REVIEW: Beasley missing in action
AJC'S NFL POWER RANKINGS: Where are the Falcons?
Hageman charged is domestic violence case