The Atlanta Falcons open up their 2016 season with a crucial match-up against the rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Is it a must-win game despite it being early?
When it comes to must-win NFL games, those usually don’t come until the latter half of the season. And a lot of the time, must-win games are against teams that aren’t very good.
But with the pressure circulating around the Atlanta Falcons at the beginning of the season, their week 1 home match-up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might just be a must-win situation.
According to the NFL’s strength of schedule, the Falcons have the hardest in the league. There isn’t a game that you as a fan can point to and tell yourself that that is an easy win.
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And when it comes to playing games inside the NFC South, the Falcons cannot afford to have more wins than losses like they did in 2015.
Most would agree that in order to make the playoffs, the Falcons need to win at least four division games. And in order to do that, they would need to sweep a two-game series with either the Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints or Carolina Panthers.
And with the Panthers expected to have another great season, it will likely come down to either the Buccaneers, or Saints.
Starting off the regular season with a win is always a good thing. But it doesn’t always translate into a good season – reflect back to Atlanta’s 2015 season.
But starting off the season with a win against a team in your division? Now that’s pretty darn meaningful. And to make it a trifecta, the game is played inside the Georgia Dome.
Everything points towards a Falcons victory over Tampa Bay when toe meets leather next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. But it will by no means be an easy win. History tells us that this will be a back-and-fourth battle that will likely be decided with whomever plays better in the second half.
Week 1 could drastically change outcome of Falcons’ week 2 matchup with Oakland
If the Falcons can jump out to a 1-0 start in both the NFC and in the NFC South, having to travel out to the west coast in week 2 will seem like a breeze. But if they were to drop the game against the Buccaneers, a week 2 win vs the up-and-coming Oakland Raiders just got a lot harder.
Losing to Tampa Bay won’t be the end of the world. There will still be 15 more games to help decide the Falcons’ fate. But starting 0-2? That absolutely cannot happen.