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TIM GREEN

 
Published Nov. 5, 2000|Updated Sept. 28, 2005

(Fox)

I think the biggest challenge for Tampa Bay is to not overlook Atlanta.

This is a team, the Falcons, that does not look very good. The offensive line is struggling, they have no rhythm in the deep passing game and their defense is littered with injuries.

I know the tendency may be for Warren Sapp to look at the film and start laughing like Santa Claus because he's going to think they play it easy and get a win.

The biggest danger when you do that is you open up to lowering yourself to the level of your opponent. If that happens, Atlanta can win if they get some big turnovers, big plays on special teams and big passes. They have to find that deep passing game they've lost.

Jamal Anderson looked pretty good against Carolina's defense, but to me the Bucs defense is tackling as well as any team in the league. He's not going to get that extra yard or two or 20. Even the Bucs cornerbacks are coming up and making tackles.

On the other side is Tampa's offense. I would think they're going to throw slants to Keyshawn Johnson until the Falcons stop it. They have inexperienced linebackers and while their corners are athletic, the linebackers are not going to be as quick to get back in drops. The slant play will be there for Tampa's offense.

As far as the running game goes, Atlanta statistically is no great against the run, but the defensive line is pretty solid. You can't think it's going to be a cakewalk just because they have inexperienced guys at linebacker. It doesn't matter what its record is, Atlanta's defensive line is going to bring it.

Overall, the Bucs are going to be up there in the Georgia Dome and there's not going to be a lot of energy like they have in tampa bay. It's almost like they're going to be playing in a dream. They have to be careful not to start sleepwalking.

ERNEST HOOPER