Falcons DE John Abraham vs. Buccaneers LT Donald Penn: It’s usually a good battle when these two Pro Bowlers meet. Abraham, 33, is a 12-year veteran who racked up 13 sacks last season. He had two in this season’s opener against the Bears. Penn, a former undrafted free agent, is a self-made player who has started 62 consecutive games — the fifth longest streak among active tackles in the NFL. Penn, who has held his ground against Abraham, has respect for Abraham’s ability to power through blocks as a change of pace to his speed rushes.
Falcons WR Roddy White vs. Buccaneers CB Aqib Talib: In Week 1, Talib returned an interception for a touchdown against Detroit. White, who led the NFL with a franchise-record 115 receptions last season, is off to a slow start. Defenses have bracketed White and left the middle of the field open. White, who has 11 catches for 84 yards and one touchdown, is well off his pace of last season.
Falcons LT Sam Baker vs. Buccaneers DE Adrian Clayborn: After facing Chicago’s Julius Peppers and Philadelphia’s Trent Cole, Baker will face the Bucs’ highly touted rookie, the 20th pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Against Baker, Cole had one sack, three quarterback hits and one tipped pass a week after Peppers had a big game. The tenacious Baker kept fighting before settling down on the Falcons’ two 80-yard drives late in the game against the Eagles.
36th regular-season meeting. Buccaneers lead series, 18-17. Falcons coach Mike Smith has won five straight games against the Buccaneers after dropping his initial meeting with them in Tampa.
A look at how the teams match up in the latest NFL rankings:
Total Offense 20th (325.0 ypg) 17th (352.0 ypg)
Rushing Offense 25th (80.5 ypg) 9th (124.0 ypg)
Passing Offense t14th (244.5 ypg) 21st (228.0 ypg)
Total Defense 28th (414.5 ypg) 27th (412.0 ypg)
Rushing Defense 31st (156.0 ypg) 18th (110.5 ypg)
Passing Defense 19th (258.5 ypg) 27th (301.5 ypg)
Points Scored t18th (22.0 ppg) 16th (23.5 ppg)
Points Allowed 18th (23.5 ppg) t29th (30.5 ppg)
Sacks t28th (2) t14th (5)
Sacks Allowed t9th (4) t30th (9)
Turnover Margin t10th (-1) t9th (-1)
Rushing Yards LeGarrette Blount (86) Michael Turner (214)
Passer Rating Josh Freeman (84.4) Matt Ryan (85.1)
Receptions Earnest Graham (13) Tony Gonzalez (12)
Receiving Yards Preston Parker (142) Tony Gonzalez (155)
Sacks Mason Foster, Sean Jones (1.0) John Abraham (2.0)
Interceptions Aqib Talib (1) K. Biermann, Kelvin Hayden (1)
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog