(Photo Credit: AJC.com)

The Buccaneers will be looking to unseat the Atlanta Falcons as NFC South Champions in 2017.

A goal for the Buccaneers is surely to reach the Super Bowl like their division foe did last season, but unlike the Falcons, hopefully the good guys get the win this time.

There aren’t many divisions as competitive as the NFC South, and every season means a legitimate shot at a new top team.

Can the Bucs become kings of this hill? Of course they can. However, it’s worth looking at what the Falcons have done since we last saw them.

 

2016 Results

To look forward at the Buccaneers chances at unseating Atlanta, first we take a look back.

The 2016 regular season began with Jameis Winston firing four touchdown passes to four receivers.

Sure, he threw an interception to go with them. Still, a 31-24 win was a nice way to start the year.

A road win to start the campaign gave the entire fanbase high hopes for sustained success.

We may not want to think about what happened in Tampa when the Falcons visited the Buccaneers, but we can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.

Mike Evans and Winston opened up the scoring on a 3-yard connection in the first quarter.

After this touchdown, it was all Atlanta.

The visiting team outscored the Bucs 33-7 after the first score of the game. They opened up a deficit so big that two fourth quarter touchdowns still didn’t make the game a close one.

A 1-1 split against the NFC’s Super Bowl representative shows the team has potential to beat big teams, but a 2-0 record may be needed to surpass them in the divisional rankings.

 

2017 Off-Season Moves

How the Buccaneers stand-up against the Falcons new defensive front featuring Dontari Poe will be interesting to watch.

The team moved Ali Marpet to center, pitting their best offensive lineman against one of the better defensive tackles in the league.

After failing to get elite push up the middle throughout 2016, the Falcons had to address the middle part of their front, and they did so splendidly.

Of course, there’s always the dreaded trend of stud linemen moving teams just to fizzle out, but I don’t see it happening here.

Re-signing Desmond Trufant was a huge move for the franchise as well.

Having an elite cornerback talent can’t be undersold, and now Atlanta will have one through 2022.

A strong effort to shore up their defense gives Atlanta huge possibilities, and the Buccaneers will need to execute their gameplan against them really well to win-out in 2017.

(Photo Credit: MyAJC.com)

2017 NFL Draft

Did the Buccaneers get closer or further when comparing draft classes?

Which team had the better draft will be truly determined about three years from now. Still, you can’t argue with the entertainment value of the Falcons’ first pick.

Takkarist McKinley certainly showed his intensity with his – um, colorful – reaction to being selected 26th overall.

I’m certainly a fan of his from an unbiased standpoint. As a Bucs fan though, I hope he does nothing twice per year.

My second favorite pick in Atlanta’s draft class is their second pick. Duke Riley has all the potential of a first-round pick by my evaluation.

LSU has been churning out defensive studs over the last decade or so. Buccaneers fans are familiar with one Kwon Alexander of course.

This Les Miles product has taken Tampa’s fanbase by storm, and don’t be surprised if Riley does the same. I mean, Deion Jones worked out pretty well for them already.

 

2017 Match-ups

The Buccaneers certainly have their hands full facing this team twice in 2017.

This doesn’t mean they can’t win though. In fact, they could feasibly go 2-0 against this team.

Both of their match-ups against this franchise come in the second half of the season.

Looking at the improvement the Bucs defense made in the last half of last season, it’s not unreasonable to think this unit could be even better come November 26th when the Bucs visit the Falcons.

If they are, then they may have the defensive tools needed to keep Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to a modest score total.

With the additions of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard, Winston certainly has the weapons to make a dent against Atlanta’s defense.

Even with Poe and Trufant on the squad, this offense will find ways to score.

Their second game of the season versus Atlanta comes in December as the first of three straight division rivals to finish the year.

What a great way to see just where this Buccaneers squad stands.

 

Weakest Link – Youth

The Buccaneers aren’t exactly veteran driven themselves, but the Falcons are really young.

Especially on defense. If the Bucs can get some early scores on this team, then some of these young players will start to take chances.

Of course, these risks taken could work and de-rail Tampa Bay’s attempts at dominating momentum. They could also backfire big-time and the Bucs could take full advantage by exploiting those youthful transgressions.

Still, this young defense was pretty good down the stretch and in the post-season.

 

Biggest Threat – Matt Ryan

The weakest part of the Buccaneers remains the secondary until proven otherwise.

Brent Grimes was a solid presence, Pro-Bowl worthy even.

Beyond him there wasn’t a whole lot of consistent greatness.

Sure, Keith Tandy flashed a lot in a short amount of time. Can he do it for a full 16 though?

Ryan is a savvy veteran at this point and making better decisions than ever for the most part.

Sure, he’ll make his own mistakes, but if the secondary doesn’t come in like they went out last season then it could be a long couple of games when they face off.

 

Conclusion

This wraps up our look at the Falcons and how they match-up against the Buccaneers in 2017.

There’s still time to give these two opponents a really deep look.

Let me know your thoughts on this year’s version of the Atlanta Falcons. How do you see this year’s games going for the good guys.

Find me on Facebook or twitter, and let me know your thoughts!

 

David Harrison is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Lead Writer and Draft Analyst for Pro Football Spot. Follow @draftharrison on Twitter as well as on Facebook. Check out his other work HERE.

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David Harrison is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Lead Writer and Draft Analyst for Pro Football Spot. He's also the co-host of the weekly Buccaneers podcast "Walking the Plank" and a contributor to The Pewter Plank. Follow @draftharrison on Twitter and on Facebook.