The Atlanta Falcons travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers in an intriguing Week 3 matchup. The young Bucs will try to knock off a divisional rival that beat them twice in close games in 2010 (and beat them three more times before that). The Bucs will have home-field advantage, and Vegas sees these two teams as being very evenly-matched.
Five of the Bucs' six 2010 losses came against the Falcons, Steelers, Ravens and Saints (they beat the Saints in Week 17, but New Orleans was preparing for the playoffs then). So the Bucs will be looking to show they can beat tougher competition this year. They've lost to the Lions and beaten the Vikings so far this season.
Atlanta, meanwhile, lost badly to the Chicago Bears in Week 1, but came back to beat the Philadelphia Eagles the following week.
Peter King takes the Bucs by a score of 20-16, and compares Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman to Atlanta QB Matt Ryan.
It won't surprise me at all if, in 10 years, we look at the careers of the two quarterbacks in this game and say Freeman's been a better pro than Matt Ryan. And believe me, that's not meant to be a knock on Ryan. It's how strongly I feel about Freeman.
SB Nation's Jason Garrison, meanwhile, doesn't think the Bucs will be able to pull out a win.
In an effort to stop [Michael] Turner and the running game they could open things up for Roddy White and Julio Jones.
At Yahoo!, Jason Cole and Mike Silver are taking the Bucs, while Les Carpenter and Yahoo! users are picking the Falcons.
For more on the Bucs, be sure to check out Bucs Nation, which thinks the Bucs are finally going to win one against the Falcons, since the Bucs will have answers at the Falcons' positions of strength.
On defense, the Bucs have done a good job stopping wide receivers, which is where the Falcons are strongest. Roddy White wasn't a major factor in beating the Bucs last year, while Julio Jones has looked pretty bad as a receiver. Tony Gonzalez could have a big game, but Ronde Barber has done a very good job stopping him in recent years.
For the Falcons, check out The Falcoholic, which stresses the importance of winning divisional games.