The Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers kick off their seasons on Sunday in Atlanta with a chance for either side to set the pace for the division. With the Tampa Bay Bucs taking on a solid Vikings team and the Saints playing a well-coached Titans unit there is reason to believe the winner of this game will have the division lead to start the season.
A lot hinges for both sides on two young quarterbacks with vastly different expectations. You have the first overall pick in Bryce Young on one side who is expected to be a franchise-saving answer. Young already has dealt with issues at offensive line and receiver before meaningful games have kicked off.
On the other side you have Desmond Ridder a quarterback that has been continually maligned and overlooked throughout the off-season. Despite this the Falcons find themselves a trendy wildcard pick based on their schedule and what Arthur Smith has built in Atlanta.
Unlike the Panthers the Falcons won't need Ridder to go out and save the offense every week but rather simply play point guard at a high level. This is the first of three clear reasons that the Falcons are going to walk away Sunday with a chance to claim first place in the NFC South.