In the third to last week of the season, the Falcons finally have their first meeting with the new-look Buccaneers, featuring Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. By this point in the year, we will know how legit Tampa Bay is. A lot of the Super Bowl hype may be unwarranted, but it is difficult to imagine that a team with Brady under center and weapons like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski around him will not at least be competing for a playoff spot, making this game all the more critical as the Falcons aim to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
Chase Irle’s Prediction
I’m of the nature that Tom Brady is on the decline, and that decline could accelerate exponentially in the next few years. However, his football IQ and his new offensive weapons make him a threat every time he steps onto the field until he can’t throw a ball anymore. I have the Bucs as one of my playoff teams, but I don’t see them winning 12-13 games like many expect. Their defense still has several holes, and Brady isn’t going to be as effective if their offensive line doesn’t improve. It doesn’t matter what kind of weapons the Buccaneers are wielding.
The Falcons have this first matchup at home; however, it’s a pretty tricky spot for them. They played the Saints two weeks ago at Mercedez-Benz Stadium, which is always an emotional matchup. They then traveled to the other side of the country for what could be a must-win game against the Chargers. Now, they come back home for another grueling matchup against Tom Brady and company. I have them winning the first two legs of this stretch, but coming out victorious in all three seems almost impossible. The Buccaneers win round one of this year in a game that is never that close.
Falcons 21, Buccaneers 40
Jake Gordon’s Prediction
Like the Saints, I have the Bucs taking round 1 against Atlanta. Chris Godwin cooked the Falcons in Mercedes Benz last season, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he put up a repeat performance in 2020. I don’t think Tampa will be the unstoppable juggernaut the media is making them out to be. Gronkowski has been out of football for a while, and it’s not clear what Tom Brady can do without Bill Belichick. Ronald Jones and the offensive line still have a lot to prove as well. Tampa Bay takes this one, but the Falcons will have another chance in a huge Week 17 with playoff implications
Falcons 27, Buccaneers 41