The Falcons move into their second division test of the season with rampant momentum on their side following back to back wins, which has them at their best four game start since 2017. They are coming off of an emotional victory against the Cleveland Browns, which represents just their second home win at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium since the start of last season.
Their opponents, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also sit at 2-2, but they come into this one having lost back-to-back games. Given the difference in expectations between the two teams coming into this season, the Falcons likely feel much better about their .500 mark than their opponents do.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding the Falcons if they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 5, as well as looking at the scenario if they lose.
If the Falcons win
They will move into what would have seemed a short time ago to be the unlikeliest of division leads, given the expectations coming into this season as well as the initial poor start to the campaign. They will also be halfway toward owning the outright tiebreaker against the Bucs in what would be a division battle where Atlanta would suddenly be a real player. The Birds’ division record — another potential tiebreaker — will also move to 1-1.
The Falcons will also beat Tom Brady for the first time ever. Brady is undefeated all time against Tampa Bay, Dallas and Atlanta, with his 10-0 record against the Birds being his best career mark against anybody. The Falcons will also move back into a tie against the Bucs in the all time head-to-head series, which Tampa has taken the lead in with a four game winning streak that coincided with Brady’s arrival.
Atlanta will finally move their record to above .500 for the first time since 2017, and this would be their best start to a season since that year as well. They have had a handful of opportunities since 2018 on to move above .500 and have fallen on their face every time.
Arthur Smith will move his road record as head coach of the Falcons to an impressive 7-5, and the buy-in from the fanbase will continue to build. I would imagine that the Mercedes-Benz Stadium would be at capacity for the following game against the San Francisco 49ers.
If the Falcons lose
It won’t be catastrophic. This is a game on the calendar which even the most optimistic of Falcons fans likely penciled in as a loss before the season, and it is made all the more difficult with the absences of Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts.
The Bucs would retain their spot at the top of the division despite their early season struggles and they will have a head start toward repeating as NFC South champions, while the Falcons will gear up for a continued challenge in the form of games against the 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals in the next two weeks. They will ideally aim to win at least one of the games in this difficult three game stretch.
Atlanta’s division record will fall to 0-2 and they stand to be caught by the Saints and Panthers when it comes to early season standings, though both of those teams don’t figure to hang around all year.
Atlanta’s losing streak to the Bucs will swell to five games, the longest such streak against Tampa since they lost six straight between 1997-2003.