Could this be the first season in four losing ones that the Atlanta Falcons finally get on the winning track?
We will find out this Sunday at 1 PM, when the Falcons kick off the season at Mercedes Benz Stadium against the Carolina Panthers, the team that also resides in the NFC South with the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The past seasons have seen the Tom Brady-powered Bucs steamroll past the Falcons to win the divisional title (and in the Dan Quinn era, the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2020.) But all that’s in the past, and the Falcons are clearly looking to the future. A winning future.
That winning future starts with the Dirty Birds getting the W at home on Sunday. They will be taking on a Panthers team that has a new coach, Frank Reich, and a new quarterback, Bryce Young. It’s tough for teams with this much newness to have an advantage. Also, the Panthers already have some key injuries to deal with, according to CBS Sports. Wide receivers for the Panthers are on the injury list. New Panthers DJ Chark and Adam Thielen are also dealing with injuries and are questionable for Sunday.
The Falcons have questionable of their own: WR KhaDarel Hodge, RB Corrarrelle Patterson, TE Jonnu Smith and CD Jeff Okudah are on the Falcons injury list and could miss the first regular season game for the team.
This game could provide early answers to the biggest questions about the Falcons these days:
- Is this defense as good as advertised?-Training Camp and the preseason games were quite encouraging to Falcons fans and observers that the defense is better than last year, but now we get to see the full team, rookies and vets, together in a real deal game that counts.
- Can QB Desmond Ridder rise (up) to the occasion? – We haven’t seen as much as we’d like of Ridder in a full game. That starts Sunday and the pressure’s on. At Wendsday’s press conference, he certainly talked like his confidence level was up. Can he impress on game day?
- Can Bijan Robinson put on a superstar performance? – Newly drafted RB Robinson has Falcons fans feeling like they’ve found their next Julio Jones, based on his performance in Training Camp alone. Now we get to see him in a regular season game. Will the rest of the national football world (who still side-eye’s the Falcons despite the obvious improvements in the team’s key performance measures) see what Atlanta sports fans see in Robinson?
But the most obvious question is, will the Falcons win their first game of the season? The team certainly has the confidence. The defense appears sharp and fast, and the offense, despite the gaps left by forementioned injuries, should be a tough adversary against the Panthers at home. Ridder should do fine Sunday.
Vegas odds have the Falcons favored over Carolina with a positive spread of 3.5. (Fan Duel, Draft Kings and Action Network all have the same spread!) So sports bettors seem to think the Falcons will walk away winners.
Sports In The ATL thinks so too. We predict the Falcons will beat Carolina 28-21.