Another Look Ahead

This week, I've added predictions and closest two upcoming games get "X wins if, Y wins if" sections. For those that missed last week's post, the importance scale is as follows: Meh = Win or lose, this one ain't tearing at any heartstrings; Hmm = Interesting matchup, but has little effect on season; Pay Attention = This one isn't pivotal, but it could end up effecting our chances in the long run; Serious Business = Winning this one is an absolute must.

Pats_medium

New England Patriots
Where: Gillette Stadium
When: Sunday September 27th, 2009 @ 1:00pm
Network: FOX
Why: To quote the great Nick Saban, "The NFL punishes success."

Importance: Serious Business. This is a statement game no matter who wins. For the Falcons, a win would be a big "look at us!" We have gone 2-0 for the first time in a good long time and yet we're one of the quietest teams out there. We're ranked high but media squawkers are still waiting for us to prove that we belong atop the rankings with the elites. This is the perfect opportunity. Of course, for New England, a win would say "we're not that bad!"

Notes: The Patriots are indeed beatable. The Jets managed to keep them out of the endzone. Do not, however, expect the Pats to play like that against us, especially at Gillete. This one will be a hard fought game and likely an offensive shootout. Both defenses lack a little to be desired. If our D can step up, we could win this one.

The Falcons win if: Alien and Predator (along with Babs and maybe even Anderson) get adequate pressure on Brady. As Dave the Falconer said to me "If Brady's not lying there in a twisted heap, it hasn't been a good game." Proper pressure on Brady, as the Jets demonstrated Sunday, will help the Falcons go a long way in forcing incompletes and possibly some interceptions. If we manage to create turnovers, we can stack up the points and keep the Patriots from making this one a shootout. Another thing the Falcons have to do is control the ball. If we have the lead with 2:00 to go in the fourth, we must get first downs. If Brady gets the ball back, he will orchestrate a comeback. That's just how he is.

The Patriots win if: they wake up and realize that they're the Patriots. Their defense isn't going to be stopping every one of our five quadrillion scoring assets of offense. This means we will be able to score. What the Patriots have to do is beat our defense, and the only real way they can do that is through the air. If Brady shakes his funk, his team can make this game a shootout, and the Pats excel at winning shootouts. 

Prediction: Falcons lose. We keep it close all game long. Brady does his thing and Pats win on a FG.

Sanf_medium

San Francisco 49ers
Where: Candlestick Park
When: Sunday October 11th, 2009 @ 4:05pm
Network: FOX
Why: Because the Falcons were once in the NFC West for years and we met the Niners a lot. We still beat them more than %50 of the time, though.

Importance: Meh. We’re not in the West anymore.

Notes: The Niners are now 2-0. Never thought I'd be writing that this year. Bully for Singletary's group. Frank Gore scares me. Glenn Coffee does as well. That defense? Not too worried. 

The Falcons win if: they play like they did the against Miami, stuffing the run and pressuring the quarterback.

The Niners win if: the Falcons are jet-lagged.

Prediction: Falcons handle 'em.

Bears_medium 

Chicago Bears 
Where: Georgia Dome
When: Sunday October 18th, 2009 @ 8:20pm
Network: NBC
Why: Last year's game was the most exciting Falcon win since the NFC Championship in 1998. The NFL is obviously hoping for a repeat.

Importance: Pay Attention. A loss here won't doom our season but it will certainly have an impact. Jay Cutler destroyed our defense last year with the Broncos and he looks to do it again this year with the Bears. 

Notes: Urlacher's gone but Cutler's looking good. Defense is still iffy though.

Prediction: Falcons handle 'em.

Dallas_medium

Dallas Cowboys 
Where: Cowboys Stadium
When: Sunday October 25th, 2009 @ 4:15pm
Network: FOX
Why: NFC "Powerhouse" meets NFC "Up-and-Comer." In other words, one team with potential faces another team with potential.

Importance: Pay Attention. Dallas won't take losing to the Giants really well. They're going to win the next few.

Notes: Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush! Keep Romo off kilter and the game's in hand.

Prediction: Falcons lose a very close one.

Saints_medium

New Orleans Saints
Where: Superdome
When: Monday November 2nd, 2009 @ 8:30pm
Network: ESPN
Why: Divisional Game

Importance: Serious Business. If we want the Division, we have to go through Brees and co.

Notes: The New Orleans offense is, in a word, frightening. Our defense needs to play above and beyond what it's done so far this year. This will likely be our toughest game all season.

Prediction: The Falcons lose but go down fighting. Offensive shootout of the year? I think so.

Skins_medium

Washington Redskins 
Where: Georgia Dome
When: Sunday November 8th, 2009 @ 1:00pm
Network: FOX
Why: Why not? The Falcons have only won 5 of the last 19 meetings of these two teams. Expect this year to be different.

Importance: Meh. This could get ugly if our D's on form.

NotesJason Campbell should make for some nice prey for the Abe/Biermann tandem. The Redskins look dismal on both sides of the ball. I still don't know why so many talking heads believe Campbell's the future of this franchise.

Prediction: Falcons stomp 'em.

Panth_medium

Carolina Panthers Part Deux
Where: Bank of America Stadium
When: Sunday November 15th, 2009 @ 1:00pm
Network: FOX
Why: Divisional Game

Importance: Serious Business, for obvious reasons.

Notes: The Panthers will either be in ruin by this time, or be much improved. I'm expecting the latter.

Prediction: Falcons squeak by with a win.

Giants_medium 

New York Giants
Where: Giants Stadium
When: Sunday November 22nd, 2009 @ 1:00pm
Network: FOX
Why: To be the best, you have to beat the best. 

Importance: Pay Attention. The Giants’ running game is superb. Hopefully our D can stop it. A great midseason test.

Notes: Our rush D will be put to a heavy test. Our pass rush will be up against a big wall. Our secondary will have to account for a lot of threats. Our running and passing games will be up against a stout defense. A win here will be a big statement.

Prediction: The Falcons lose, but manage to hang a bit of points against the G-Men

Bucs_medium 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
Where: Georgia Dome
When: Sunday November 29th, 2009 @ 1:00pm
Network: FOX
Why: Divisional Game

Importance: Serious Business. We meet Tampa late in the season this year. A young, growing team, the Bucs could have some rhythm going into this one.

Notes: The Bucs stink, so far. I no longer expect them to be decent by this time.

Prediction: Falcons stomp 'em.

Eagles_medium 

Philadelphia Eagles
Where: Georgia Dome
When: Sunday December 6th, 2009 @ 1:00pm
Network: FOX
Why: Because Eagles and Falcons are natural enemies.

Importance: Serious Business. Lots of history here plus You Know Who returns to the ATL.

Notes: McNabb will likely be back under center, but Michael "sack magnet" Vick will be eligible to play. Abe and Biermann will hopefully have a field day with either. The Eagles are consistently tough, and consistently kick our butts on D. With all the weapons we have now, I think the story will end a little differently this time. I’m hoping we take them behind the woodshed. If not, I’d take a regular ol’ win with a side of some stout, brick wall-like Falcons defense.

Prediction: Falcons steal a win by a touchdown or less.

Saints_medium 

New Orleans Saints 2: Electric Boogaloo
Where: Georgia Dome
When: Sunday December 13th, 2009 @ 1:00pm
Network: FOX
Why: Divisional Game

Importance: Serious Business. With a probable loss in the Superdome, the Birds will definitely have to win here on their home turf if the division title is to be theirs.

Notes: We have to win. We have to shut down Brees, Bush, Thomas. We have to light up the passing game, rush it down their throats, and leave them begging for mercy (they won’t get any).

Prediction: Falcons lose this one. New Orleans just looks that good.

Jets_medium 

New York Jets 
Where: Giants Stadium
When: Sunday December 20th, 2009 @ 1:00pm
Network: FOX
Why: Because New Yorkers couldn’t get enough of us the first go round against the Giants.

Importance: Pay Attention. A good showing at a late road game is bound to bolster our playoff stock, should we be talented/lucky enough to have any at this point.

Notes: They beat the Patriots, yes. But they aren't that good. Offense is iffy. Defense is stout.

Prediction: Falcons win with premier offense.

Bills_medium

Buffalo Bills
Where: Georgia Dome
When: Sunday December 27th, 2009 @ 1:00pm
Network: CBS
Why: The Bills are expected to be better this year, especially with TO in the fold. If the Pats game is any indication, as long as they take care of their mistakes, Buffalo will be quite the formidable opponent.

Importance: Pay Attention for one reason; TO versus our secondary.

Notes:  When stacked against a pretty average Pats pass rush, the Buffalo OL collapsed in key situations. With our strong end rush, I don’t expect Trent Edwards to have much time in the pocket. Still, the Bills looked good against the Pats so, barring any collapses during the early and mid season, this game could be quite entertaining.

Prediction: Falcons win a close one.

Bucs_medium

Tampa Bay Buccaneers With a Vengeance
Where: Raymond James Stadium
When: Sunday January 3rd, 2009 @ 1:00pm
Network: FOX
Why: Divisional Game

Importance: Either Meh if we’ve locked a playoff spot and sit our starters or Serious Business if we need a win to take control of the division and/or earn those back-to-back winning seasons.

Notes: Tampa Bay will likely be looking for a win here to build momentum going into the offseason. Let's not give it to them.

Prediction: Falcons win, even if they sit some starters.

Current season record: 2-0

Current season prediction: 11-5

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