Atlanta gets to open their 2016 season in the Georgia Dome, the final time they’ll draw that honor in their current stadium. After a relatively productive offseason, it’s little surprise that the Falcons are favorites to win.
If you saw these two teams play a year ago, and if you’re as bullish on Jameis Winston as most are, you can also understand why Atlanta’s only favored by a field goal today. The Buccaneers effectively embarrassed the Falcons a year ago despite the relatively close scores, simply outmuscling and outplaying Dan Quinn’s squad both at home and on the road. The Buccaneers did not blow up that team heading into 2016 and the Falcons are probably only moderately improved, so Vegas isn’t going to be so kind as to predict an Atlanta blowout.
I’ve gone back and forth on this game since we first looked at this year’s Buccaneers team, but I do think this is a winnable game for Atlanta, and it is one that I expect them to win. Given Atlanta’s crop of rookies stepping into major playing time and Tampa Bay’s potential excellence, we’ll go ahead and note that I expect it to be an extremely close game, as well.
We’ll hand in our score predictions later in the day, so mull yours over now.