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What are Falcons fans thinking going into a divisional matchup against the Panthers?

For the first time in years, confidence is high going into a season opener.

NFL: Preseason-Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The wait is over. Falcons football is officially back. For the first time since 2018, there is legitimate excitement about the direction of the team. They have an excellent chance to end a long, frustrating playoff drought dating back to 2017, which happens to be the last time they won a season opener. While it will take consistent all-around moderately high-level play (moderate is one way to describe the NFC South) for the next five months to make the playoffs, they can end one of those disappointing streaks today against a divisional rival.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this divisional clash is how the Falcons will manage carries in an ultra-talented, crowded backfield. With Cordarelle Patterson recovering from a thigh injury, Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier will primarily share the workload. For all the understandable excitement about Robinson heading into his NFL debut, fans aren’t expecting him to see a significantly larger workload than the franchise’s all-time rookie rushing yardage holder. In fact, over 40 percent of fans believe Allgeier will receive the most carries against Carolina’s talented front.

There is plenty of anticipation for how Desmond Ridder elevates his game this season. With Kyle Pitts back in the fold and an array of new weapons, Smith’s offense should be nowhere near as one-dimensional as it was last year. A functional passing game is an understandable expectation for a team that struggled to pass for more than 200 yards last season. Most fans expect Ridder to throw for more than 200 yards to set the tone for the season.

With a new defensive coordinator who specializes in defensive line play and three free agent signings to strengthen inside the trenches, all eyes will be on how improved Atlanta can be at bringing down the quarterback. They can’t possibly be worse after several seasons of failing to produce 30 sacks. Carolina’s fragile offensive line protecting a rookie quarterback making his debut presents a favorable opportunity to start the season impressively. Fans aren’t quite convinced the Falcons’ revamped front will be able to generate enough big plays.

Despite not having high expectations of taking over the game defensively in the trenches, fans are hugely confident about the team’s overall chances of winning. The Falcons haven’t won a season opener since 2017 in a lackluster performance against a rebuilding Bears team. It did feature a memorable ending with Brooks Reed sacking Mike Glennon to win the game. Considering how dramatic games can get between the Panthers and Falcons, a thrilling finish wouldn’t be surprising with the home team coming out on top.

How confident do you feel about the Falcons heading into today’s home opener?

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