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Bucs vs. Falcons: By the numbers, what they're saying

Bucs at Falcons

1 p.m., Georgia Dome, Atlanta

TV/radio: Ch. 13; 620-AM, 103.5-FM

The poll

How would you describe the Bucs' 2012 season?

No different than last year: 58 percent

A step forward: 34 percent

Awful: 4 percent

Successful: 2 percent

A step backward: 2 percent

Total: 988 votes

Inside the numbers

19-19 Bucs' record against the Falcons

2.4 Yards per carry for the Bucs' Doug Martin against the Falcons on Nov. 25, second-lowest this season

11 Consecutive home wins for Atlanta, which seeks its first perfect season since 1998 (the only time it reached the Super Bowl)

1,766 Yards from scrimmage for Martin, third in the league

89 Receiving yards needed by the Bucs' Vincent Jackson to surpass the franchise record of 1,422 set by Mark Carrier in 1989

What they're saying

There have been no winks or sly smiles from Falcons coaches or players; no hints that they don't really mean what they say. The Falcons insist they really are "playing to win" their regular-season finale against the Buccaneers as coach Mike Smith said. The game may not matter for their playoff standing. But to the Falcons, that's not the same as saying the game doesn't matter.

Michael Cunningham Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The enigma that is Josh Freeman has returned, and solving that particular puzzle will now become one of the Bucs' foremost offseason priorities. He's not exactly a Mark Sanchez-level problem, but he was taken in the same first round of the 2009 draft.

Don Banks Sports Illustrated

Optimism ran high a month ago that this was a playoff team. But they faded down the stretch with five straight loses. Coach Greg Schiano has more work to do than he expected.

Pat Kirwan cbssports.com

The picks

Remember when the Bucs were 6-4 and in all those playoff-scenario graphics? Well, they'll finish the season on a six-game losing streak that has everyone at Tony Dungy's barbershop in Tampa wondering: "Was it fool's gold with Greg Schiano in the first two months?" Falcons, 30-13.

Peter King Sports Illustrated

The Falcons don't plan to rest their starters, so they will play to win. The Bucs are playing like they've packed it in. Atlanta rolls against a Bucs team that just hasn't played well the past couple of weeks. Falcons, 27-17.

Pete Prisco cbssports.com

(The Falcons have) been coy about how much QB Matt Ryan and other stars will or won't play. Still like Falcs to make sure they don't enter the postseason off an upset loss. Remember, this is a team 0-3 in the playoffs under coach Mike Smith and Ryan and sensitive about inviting fresh doubts — internal or external. Falcons, 24-16

Greg Cote Miami Herald

Bucs vs. Falcons: By the numbers, what they're saying 12/28/12 [Last modified: Friday, December 28, 2012 8:26pm]
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