Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2018 Bucs' Opponent in Question: Atlanta Falcons

The Buccaneers will meet the division-rival Falcons on October 14 in Atlanta then again for the last game of the regular season on December 30 here in Tampa Bay. Here’s a quick outlook on what this year’s Falcons team should look like.

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How'd they do in 2017?

The Falcons finished third in the NFC South but still managed a 10-win season and made the postseason. They were thrown in the wildcard game against the Los Angeles Rams and advanced to the divisional round where they would then suffer defeat at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl champs in the Philadelphia Eagles.

Going into 2018 with a team that already has Julio Jones, the Falcons added arguably the best receiver in this year's draft in Calvin Ridley out of Alabama. Pair the two threatening pass-catchers with running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, sprinkle in some Mohamed Sanu in the slot with Matty Ice under center and the Atlanta offense only got better this offseason. The Falcons did take a bit of a hit on the defensive line with the departures of Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn, but they re-signed Derrick Shelby and still have Grady Jarrett on the interior. They also picked up defensive tackle Deandrin Senat from the University of South Florida in the third round of this year's draft. At the end of the day, don't expect Atlanta to let the NFC South pass them by in 2018.

Anything interesting between the two teams?

-The series history is at 25-24 in favor of the Falcons, meaning October 14 in Atlanta will give the Bucs the opportunity to even up the all-time series. Tampa Bay has dropped its last three to the Falcons but had won the three previous meetings before that. In their last game on Monday Night Football during Week 15 of last season, the Bucs managed to get the ball back with a minute left to go while down by just a field goal. In the end, Tampa Bay couldn't convert, forcing Patrick Murray into an unsuccessful 54-yard field goal attempt with five seconds on the clock. It was a hard-fought effort in prime time against a tough division opponent for the Bucs that will hopefully swing the other way come October.

What about off the field?

Atlanta will play host to Super Bowl LIII this upcoming season at the newly built Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They aren't the only NFC South team to be awarded the big game in the near future, either. Tampa Bay won the bid for Super Bowl LV in 2021 because of massive renovations to Raymond James Stadium that total $160 million as of 2018.

So… what if I want to go?

The Week 6 contest between the two teams will take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. It's not a bad drive, should you want to bring all your tailgating equipment along, clocking in at about six-and-a-half hours. Or you could leave Tampa International Airport and be at Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta in one-and-a-half hours.

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