What to watch for in ‘TNF’: Falcons-Buccaneers

It didn’t take long for Jameis Winston to win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers locker room as a rookie starting quarterback in 2015, and according to Stanford coach David Shaw, Deshaun Watson will be received much the same way by the Houston Texans.

Winston, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 draft, started as a rookie and has passed for more than 4,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons. If Watson’s presence sells in the Texans locker room the way Winston’s did in Tampa Bay, his competition with Savage will get some early momentum. Like any other quarterback, he’ll have to put the ball in the end zone to maintain the kind of support Winston has had, but makeup and leadership shouldn’t be an issue.

The Bears and Jets make sense as potential suitors: Chicago is certain to part ways with Jay Cutler, while two of last year’s arms — Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley — are set to become free agents. New York, meanwhile, could use a veteran ahead of Bryce Petty and the tucked-away Christian Hackenberg.

With the Bears picking at No. 3 and the Jets at No. 6, it makes sense to mine the veteran free-agent heap unless either franchise is truly in love with one of this year’s signal-calling draft prospects.

He wasn’t kidding. While Seferian-Jenkins offers good size and athleticism, Friday’s gaffe was the final straw in Tampa, where the pass-catcher has been low on production and high on drama.

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Seferian-Jenkins was kicked out of a Bucs practice in August by Koetter for not knowing where to line up, an incident the player called a “wake-up call.” He later saw upstart Cameron Brate take over the starting position, although Seferian-Jenkins saw more snaps than Brate in Week 2.

The true mark of a good NFL team is not sweating the small stuff and the Seahawks (7-3-1), after scoring just five points in a stunning loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday, are not sweating it.

“We all knew that was not us, only scoring three points as an offense after the past couple weeks that we had,” wideout Jermaine Kearse told ESPN.com. “We know that’s not us. We’ve just got to correct the mistakes and wholesale jerseys and continue to get better. There’s going to be some downs. And how we respond to those downs is going to tell you about the character of this team. I have no doubt that we’re going to pick it back up.”

The Falcons have a pass rush, (Shh, don’t tell anyone.) Through half of a full season, Atlanta’s defense has tallied 18 sacks, which is one behind the unit’s season-long, league-worst total from last year. The Falcons currently rank 12th in the league in sacks, 10th in picks, eighth in forced fumbles and fourth in combined tackles, Led by the youthful trio of pass rusher Vic Beasley (fourth in the NFL with 7.5 sacks), linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal, Quinn’s unit has improved mightily in his second season as coach. Their ability to correct mistakes made in the season opener, when Winston threw four scores and was not sacked even once, will say a lot about the maturity of Atlanta’s young defense and Quinn’s mettle as a coach.

Why aren’t these teams on national television every week? The Falcons’ last four games and six of their eight contests have all been decided by one score or less, including their season-opening loss at home to Tampa Bay. The Bucs are a bipolar bunch, settling for four one-score games and three unbearable blowouts. The reason for these teams’ increased likelihood to play close contests probably has to do with the unpredictability of their defenses, which are prone to surrendering big plays at unfortunate points in the game. It may not be great football, but it sure is great TEEVEE. Tune in, sheeple!

Where is Tampa Bay going to find its pass rush? Three of the Buccaneers’ top playmakers on the defensive line — , and Clinton McDonald — are listed as doubtful, and promising defensive end Noah Spence barely practiced this week. The Bucs embarrassed the Broncos’ O-line in the first half last week, sacking Trevor Siemian four times and knocking him out of the game, but then their linemen succumbed to their respective injuries and Paxton Lynch moved the ball with ease. Tampa Bay will need transcendent games from Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David if they’re going to disrupt Anderson and replace the sack and tackle production they’ve lost in the front seven.

With Cam and on the sidelines, Carolina will hope to limit its struggles in the running game. As the Panthers’ top rusher, Newton is able to extend plays, absorb hits reserved for his tailbacks and pick up yardage after the tackle; Anderson does not have that gift. Backup tailbacks and Cameron Artis-Payne don’t strike fear into any defensive line, and won’t frighten the Bucs. Tampa Bay is fourth in the league with rushing yards allowed per attempt (3.3); of course, the health, or lack thereof, of its front seven could allow for a breakthrough up the middle for Carolina’s run game.