After a gauntlet that features the Saints, Rams, Seahawks, and Browns in the first four games, Atlanta’s not getting a breather. Instead, they’ll pack up their bags and head south to the soupy air of Florida in October, facing off against the defending NFC South champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I had high hopes this would be the offseason that the Bucs crashed back down to earth, but the roster still unfortunately looks very formidable. Rob Gronkowski has retired—again—and Tom Brady is in truly unprecedented waters, as he’ll take the field as the oldest quarterback ever to start an NFL game this fall. Barring a true Brady meltdown or multiple disappointing campaigns from players who look like they’re set to be 2022 stars, the Buccaneers are once again going to be the easy favorite to win the division. I’m sick of it.
Will the Falcons be able to go on the road and steal one away? Our staff roundtable weighs in below.
Buccaneers 30 - Falcons 24
I want this one. I would like very much for the Falcons to finally beat Tom Brady, I’d like a chance for this Atlanta team to avenge some recent ugly losses to Tampa Bay, and I’d like the divisional implications of a victory. When this week rolls around, you can bet I’ll be trying to find every reason I can to predict the win and nullify this particular prediction, especially because I have the Falcons sitting at 2-32 coming into this and being above .500 near the tail end of a brutal opening stretch would be magnificent.
Right now, though? The Buccaneers are still the most talented team in the division, and even if you think Tom Brady is a lock to finally slip and they’ve bled some talent, this is a deep squad that added legitimate talent up front with Akiem Hicks and rookie Logan Hall. Barring injuries, it’s hard for me to see any way they fall to Atlanta here at home, as much as I might wish otherwise. -Dave Choate
Buccaneers 31 - Falcons 16
The Buccaneers are dealing with some changes from its dominant last few seasons, but even without the likes of Bruce Arians and a few losses, the Buccaneers remain nearly unbeatable to a team like the Falcons. The Falcons are absolutely not built to win a shootout. The most realistic chance is the bargain Tom Brady made with a wizard finally expires and he suddenly looks like some mediocre, short, unathletic quarterback well past his prime. - Matt Chambers
Buccaneers 27 - Falcons 17
I don’t think this game will be a blowout. In fact, it seems like these two teams always play each other tight — no matter if it’s Josh Freeman, Mike Glennon, Jameis Winston or Tom Brady under center for Tampa. Even last year, the Falcons were within one score in the fourth quarter in Week 2 and down only 10 in Week 13.
The Falcons have lost four straight to the Bucs, but it seems like they’re always right there in the fourth quarter before Tampa runs away with it. It feels like that’ll be the case again this season. While the Falcons are in a transitional year, Tampa has once again geared up to win now. They had a top five scoring defense last year and returned all of their key contributors. That’s not a great recipe against what will either be a journeyman or a rookie quarterback. Meanwhile, Tom Brady will have plenty of time in the pocket against Atlanta’s subpar pass rush. - Adnan Ikic
What’s your prediction for Falcons-Buccaneers?