Bring on Atlanta! The game this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium will hold historical significance for both NFC South opponents. There are so many reasons that one could look at this game and think, meh. There will be no postseason for either squad. Both teams have a record that is just bad enough that they will pick early in the 2019 draft but not bad enough to be in line for one of the coveted top five spots. So what is this game other than a battle for the bottom of the division?
It’s all about the series record, the little nugget of information that is presented at the beginning of every NFL broadcast. One could be forgiven for not losing any sleep over this statistic, but it exists just the same, so let’s dig a little and see why this week’s game matters.
First off, the Falcons and the Bucs have faced off a total of fifty (50) times in their history. The Falcons lead the all-time series by two (2) games, 26-24. For the record, the Buccaneers do lead the series 17-16 since both teams moved into the NFC South in 2002. But the real meat is in the all-time series record. Going back to the days when Steve Bartkowski was the Falcons quarterback, we have always played the Falcons pretty evenly. Even though the Bucs were in the NFC Central and the Falcons in the West, the matchup between these teams always had a feeling of a battle for the south.
Out of 32 NFL teams, the Bucs have a winning record against only four (4), Buffalo (7-4), Cincinnati (7-5), Kansas City (7-5) and Miami (6-5). But the Falcons are a division opponent. They are like a sibling you never stop competing with. A win on Sunday and a sweep next year could put us up in the series, and that is something to work for.
There is so much talk about changes that should be made this offseason—players, coaches, management, all the ingredients needed to change the culture of football in Tampa Bay. These are all things that take time, like turning an ocean liner in the middle of the ocean. A victory on Sunday would not only be a satisfying end to a season that has been mystifying at times and painful at others, but it could be the start of a winning culture here in Tampa Bay. Let’s work to put Atlanta onto the list of teams we have a winning series record against. Let’s go out of 2018 with a victory for Tampa Bay. Bring on Atlanta!
Prediction: Bucs 28 – Falcons 3