Audibles: NFC South Week 9 previews

October, 31, 2008
10/31/08
4:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Atlanta Falcons at Oakland Raiders, 4:15 p.m. ET

In a season that's been all about the future, the Falcons will visit their past.

They'll face DeAngelo Hall, the cornerback they once drafted in the first round. Hall's spotty play so far in Oakland could be another boost for Atlanta rookie quarterback Matt Ryan.

Hall's problems in Atlanta got overshadowed by Michael Vick and Bobby Petrino. The Falcons already have moved beyond their former quarterback and coach. Moving beyond Hall -- and perhaps getting receivers Roddy White and Michael Jenkins behind him in coverage a few times -- could be another major step in Atlanta's dramatic turnaround.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m. ET

Fullbacks don't seem like a big deal, until you don't have one.

That's the situation the Bucs have found themselves in with starter B.J. Askew out with an injury and not looking like he's ready to come back any time soon. That's part of the reason the Bucs scored just nine points in Dallas in Week 8 and why they haven't been able to run the ball consistently.

They're using Jameel Cook, whom they signed off the street a couple weeks ago, as their lead blocker. Cook was with the Bucs in 2005, but the offense (which had Chris Simms at quarterback at that point) is dramatically different.

Against a struggling defense like the Chiefs, this is a perfect opportunity for Cook to show the coaches he can handle the playbook. If the Bucs truly are going to contend for the NFC South title, they need more out of Cook and they need a lot more than nine points a game.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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