We come at last to the end. On Sunday, the Falcons will finish off a dreadful 2018 season either with one more disappointing loss and a 6-10 record, or a meaningless (though likely fun) win and a 7-9 record. The difference between those two marks? Jobs, potentially, and also draft position.
It’s likely to be a period of sweeping change in the NFC South, which was expected to be one of the NFL’s best divisions again and turned out to be crummy as hell instead. The Falcons were disappointing out of the gate, the Panthers collapsed, and the Bucs are the Bucs as per usual. Only the Saints are any good, and to their credit, they are very good.
The Bucs may fire their head coach, the Panthers may follow suit, and the Falcons could fire assistants and sweep out of the cobwebs in a front office loaded with former GMs but lacking in big results the last two offseasons, with a handful of notable exceptions. Hell, the Saints could conceivably lose Drew Brees if he decides to hang it up, though that’s a long shot.
Look for plenty of passing in this one and two stubborn coaches playing starters for as long as they can pretend this one matters. Here’s what you’ll need to know to watch.
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When: Sunday, December 30, 1 p.m. EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, Florida
Radio: 92.9 The Game
Announcers: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Jennifer Hale
Prediction: Falcons lose, 27-24
Key Questions: Will the Falcons get Dirk Koetter fired with a win? Will Atlanta be able to continue a run of solid defense against a Tampa Bay offense that is capable of playing some very good football games? Will the offensive line hold up for the third straight week, despite an imposingish front seven in Tampa Bay.
Opponent Site: Bucs Nation
2018 Falcons Schedule (6-9)
Week 1: Falcons @ Eagles, Thursday Night Football - Loss
Week 2: Falcons vs. Panthers, Win
Week 3: Falcons vs. Saints, Loss
Week 4: Falcons vs. Bengals, Loss
Week 5: Falcons @ Steelers, Loss
Week 6: Falcons vs. Buccaneers, Win
Week 7: Falcons vs. Giants, Win
Week 8: BYE WEEK
Week 9: Falcons @ Redskins, Win
Week 10: Falcons @ Browns, Loss
Week 11: Falcons vs. Cowboys, Loss
Week 12: Falcons @ Saints, Loss
Week 13: Falcons vs. Ravens, Loss
Week 14: Falcons @ Packers, Loss
Week 15: Falcons vs. Cardinals, Win
Week 16: Falcons @ Panthers, Win
Week 17: Falcons @ Buccaneers, Sunday December 30 1:00 p.m.