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Buccaneers 2016 season preview: Opening against the Falcons

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Previewing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2016 season, game by game. Today we talk about week one: at the Atlanta Falcons

Bucs’ all-time record vs. Falcons: 23-22

After beating the Atlanta Falcons twice in 2015, probably the team’s biggest accomplishment, last season, the Bucs open the 2016 season against their division rivals.

The number of storylines here is somewhat amazing. This will be defensive coordinator Mike Smith’s first regular season game since getting fired by the Falcons after the 2014 season. Dirk Koetter will face his former team as a head coach for the first time. Jameis Winston vs. Matt Ryan and Mike Evans vs. Julio Jones to open the season. Two teams that really disappointed last year, and are looking to rebound. And two teams that are really similarly built.

The games between the Falcons and Bucs have generally been pretty close, and this one should be no exception, with two pretty close teams. Both offenses want to run the ball and get the ball down the field to their big wideouts. Both of them are based on a 4-3 with explosive and somewhat undersized edge rushers. The biggest difference is the secondary: the Falcons ad Dan Quinn like their cornerbacks big, while the Bucs are going with smaller guys.

Either team could win this one, but the fact that it’s in Atlanta should give the Falcons a minor advantage. That’s it, though: these two teams look pretty evenly matched. Which should make this one cracking game.