Falcons FS Thomas DeCoud vs. Bucs QB Josh Freeman: DeCoud leads the team with four interceptions, has 46 tackles and one sack. He must be on top of his game against Freeman, who utilizes his big receivers well. DeCoud also will have a role in run support and must not continue to miss open-field tackles. Freeman has been much more effective with a rushing attack. He has guided the Bucs to wins in five of their past six games and has rekindled their playoff hopes. He has thrown 16 touchdown passes in the past six games.
Falcons RCB Dunta Robinson vs. Bucs WR Vincent Jackson: Robinson has played well in coverage, but has been susceptible to square-in routes against the Bucs’ bigger receivers in the past. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are bigger players and will show up on Robinson’s side of the field. Jackson, who signed as a free agent after playing seven seasons for San Diego, has 42 catches for 863 yards and seven touchdowns.
Falcons DE John Abraham vs. Bucs LT Donald Penn: Abraham has nine sacks as he continues to play at a high level. Abraham had two sacks last week, including a key sack-strip that led to a touchdown. He has 121 over his career, is the NFL’s active sack leader and one of 15 players in the NFL to reach 120 career sacks. Penn is a feisty mauler. He was fined $7,875 for getting into a facemask tugging match with Minnesota’s Jared Allen earlier this season.