Sep 8, 2023 - News

The Falcons hope to open season with a win for the first time since 2017

Atlanta Falcons Desmond Ridder, wearing a black uniform, prepares to throw the football

Desmond Ridder. Photo: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons' season has arrived. Let us rejoice.

Driving the news: Atlanta takes on a familiar foe — the Carolina Panthers — at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday at 1pm.

What we're watching: Whether Desmond Ridder is the Falcons franchise quarterback.

  • The 24-year-old is entering his second year and after limited playing time last year, the team handed him the keys to the offense.

Yes, but: He is surrounded by playmakers at every skill position. Tight end Kyle Pitts is returning from a knee injury, Drake London is entering his second year as receiver and rookie Bijan Robinson arrives from Texas to join an already talented running back room.

  • So, even if the passing game falters, which it shouldn't, Ridder can just lean on the Falcons' rushing attack.

State of play: The Falcons finally had money to spend this offseason and used the bulk of it to improve their defense, which was in dire need of a rebuild.

  • Meanwhile, the Panthers are rolling with a rookie quarterback in Bryce Young. While he was dominant in college at the University of Alabama, this is a different game.

The intrigue: The Falcons haven't had a winning record since going 10-6 in the 2017-18 season. They also haven't won a season opener since that year.

  • In fact, a win on Sunday would put them above the .500 mark (an apparent glass ceiling for this team) for the first time in five years.

Ross' prediction: The Falcons win with relative ease. The offense lives up to the hype and the new defense makes Young look like the rookie he is.

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