TAMPA, Fla. -- When Tampa Bay opened the season with a 31-24 road victory over the Atlanta Falcons, it was a promising start to Dirk Koetters head coaching career against a team he and Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith coached together.But as the rematch approaches Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium, much has changed as the Buccaneers find themselves considerably short-handed as they try to stop a Falcons offense that has established itself as the NFLs best.I think theyre playing with more confidence, and you would expect that: They won some big games, Koetter said.The Falcons (5-3) have the NFC South lead and quarterback Matt Ryan leads the NFL in touchdown passes (19) and passing yards (2,636), having thrown scoring passes to an NFL-best 10 different players. The biggest challenge will be containing receiver Julio Jones, who went off for 300 yards in a victory against Carolina this season, but the Buccaneers held him to 66 yards in the first meeting. Jones has been slowed by a knee injury, but the Bucs fully expect to face him.Julio Jones is going to play, said Smith, his coach in Atlanta until last year. He is obviously one of the top three receivers in the league. Theres no doubt about that. Maybe No. 1. I think hes probably one of the toughest guys to defend.The Bucs wont have nearly the same offensive lineup they had around quarterback Jameis Winston in the first meeting. Doug Martin and Charles Sims, the teams top two running backs, are injured as is No. 2 receiver Vincent Jackson, and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who caught a 30-yard touchdown against the Falcons, has since been arrested on a DUI charge and waived.As if losing their top two backs wasnt enough, the Bucs will be without former Falcons back Jacquizz Rodgers, who had filled in admirably with back-to-back 100-yard games before getting injured Sunday in a loss to the Raiders.Now the Bucs move forward with three backs all signed off the street since the start of the season -- former Falcons back Antone Smith, who has never had more than four carries in a game; rookie Peyton Barber, who played only three offensive snaps in Sundays loss; and Mike James, who was signed Tuesday after being waived-injured by the Bucs in Week 1, days before the first Falcons game.The quick turnaround to a Thursday game is tough enough, but the Bucs are coming off an overtime loss to Oakland that saw their defense on the field for 94 snaps. The Raiders piled up 626 yards of total offense, including a franchise-record 512 passing by Derek Carr, whose fourth touchdown won the game late in overtime.Atlanta, too, had their game Sunday come down to the wire as Mohamed Sanu caught the game-winning touchdown in a win over the Packers, so both teams will be physically spent entering the game.Our last three weeks, all the games have come right down to the end, coach Dan Quinn said Tuesday. We had some disappointing finishes where we thought we had a chance to finish and we didnt, then in this game where we did. Were glad we had another opportunity to try to finish ... weve got work to do, but were pleased we were able to finish it this past one.If the Bucs (3-4) win, theyll have the season sweep of the Falcons and be a half-game out of first and even in losses with the Falcons. Theyll need to play much better defensively than they did against Oakland, while facing the NFLs top passer, but Tampa Bay has won three straight against Atlanta -- all since Winston took over as quarterback last season.Both teams will enjoy the longer break after Thursdays game with the Bucs staying home to face the Bears in Week 10, while the Falcons go to the Eagles next weekend before finally getting their open date. Wholesale NBA Jerseys . -- Bryant McKinnie came out of his stance and lowered his shoulder into a practice squad player, causing a crisp thud to reverberate in the Miami Dolphins practice bubble. NFL Jerseys 2018 Cheap . 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The NCAA is sending out a questionnaire to cities interested in hosting college championship events that asks the prospective hosts to detail how they will protect athletes and fans from discrimination.The questionnaire follows the NBAs decision Thursday to move the All-Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, over the states House Bill 2, which limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.Prospective host cities must identify local anti-discrimination laws in the questionnaire.We are committed to providing a championship experience within an inclusive environment for student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans, Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president for championships and alliances, said in a statement. With the Board of Governors direction, we are taking steps to assure that anyone associated wwith an NCAA championship event will be treated with fairness and respect.ddddddddddddFor championships that are already booked through 2018 -- including mens basketball tournaments in 2017 in Greensboro, North Carolina, and 2018 in Charlotte -- the hosts must fill out the same questionnaire.?The NCAA board of governors will review the information for these events and determine if they will stay in those cities.The questionnaire also applies to facilities to ensure there are no anti-discrimination policies within the buildings.The completed forms for future events, which are due by Aug. 12, will be sent to the specific sport committees for evaluation.Information from ESPN senior writer Andy Katz contributed to this report. 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