WEEK SEVEN: @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (1PM, FOX)
Oh you know Grady Jarrett's got this date circled, and for good reason. Much as people would love to forget this moment, it's hard to deny that the Falcons got wrongly screwed out of an opportunity to win this road game against the Buccaneers last year. Again, we're not saying the Falcons would've actually won; they just earned the chance that was never given because even at 45, Tom Brady was given extra treatment for quarterbacks.
However, that was 2022, and now we're in 2023. Tampa Bay's essentially falling into the "salary cap hell" that Atlanta just got out of last offseason, fielding a less than stellar team while having 45% of their active salary cap being tied up into players who aren't on the roster this year. Also, it's possible that by this point, Tampa could be fully into the Caleb Williams sweepstakes, having removed star wide receiver Mike Evans and linebacker Devin White for cap relief entering next offseason.
Looking further at Tampa Bay, while they still have capable pieces on their roster in the form of Chris Godwin, Tristan Wirfs, and Vita Vea, the reality is that these players, while all top tier at their respective positions, can't do anything if the quarterback and running game isn't at the top of their game. And we remember how laughable the Bucs were running the ball last year; add in Baker Mayfield, on his fourth team in the last three years under center?
Atlanta exacts revenge from last season's robbery.
PREDICTION: ATLANTA 28, TAMPA BAY 17