WEEK ONE: vs. CAROLINA PANTHERS (1PM, FOX)
For the second consecutive season, the Falcons open up the season at home with a divisional opponent. Last year, it was the Saints (and we know the heartbreak that happened), but this year, two things are different: the starting quarterback and the opponent. This is truly the beginning of the Desmond Ridder era because, while he did get four games under his belt last year, this is his first season starting since his sophomore campaign at Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, let's look at the opponent: the Carolina Panthers. After wrongly letting go of Steve Wilks in favor of Frank Reich (not to say Reich isn't a good coach; just that Wilks had the locker room and those boys played hard), the Panthers then shipped their best receiver, DJ Moore, to Chicago alongside multiple picks in future drafts to move up and select Bryce Young out of Alabama. While Young's a very good player in his own right, rookie quarterbacks drafted first overall starting in Week One are 0-13-1 in the last 14 instances, with the last being David Carr in 2002.
Add in the fact that Carolina's offensive line is currently the same suspect levels Atlanta's was in Matt Ryan's final year, their best receiver right now is Adam Thielen, and star defensive end Brian Burns might sit out this game due to contract negotiations, and it's essentially a recipe for a Falcons victory.
Furthermore, Atlanta's overall record when playing the Panthers to kick off the season? A pretty impressive 3-1. However, the last time these two teams played to kick off the regular season was back in 2006, a 20-6 road win for the Dirty Birds in the "I-85" rivalry.
Atlanta starts the season 1-0 for the first time since the 2017 season.
PREDICTION: ATLANTA 30, CAROLINA 17