After a great game by the defense in Cleveland, a dominant performance by Michael Turner and Kroy "Polamal-who?" Biermann's pick of the century, the Falcons turn their attention to the 3-2 Eagles, who are coming off a close win at the 49ers. I have three important questions for the game, so if you're so inclined let's see what delicious Falcohol lays beyond the jump.
1) Will the Falcons offense click?
Over the offseason it was well documented that, if the Falcons wanted to win a ring (or at least take a shot at New Orleans), it'd be by the arm of Matt Ryan and our explosive offensive group. 5 games into the season, we have seen many different sides to the Falcons team. Weeks 1, 4 and 5 have seen individuals shine, but others suffer (think Turner being held comfortably by the Steelers, or Ryan's less than impressive game against both San Fran and Cleveland). Weeks 2 and 3, however, saw big plays stick and sheer offensive dominance. The Browns game saw Ryan stutter early but find a groove late to end up with reasonable, but not astounding, stats. His pass to Roddy for the 45 yard TD was a thing of beauty, but likewise we saw some happy feet in the pocket and a receiving group struggle to get free in the red zone. Turner, on the other hand, cruised to a casual 140 yards. The point is, our offensive play makers have had amazing games, just not all at the same time. If we can click, I can honestly see us crushing Philly, especially considering that they rank 24th against the run and have let in some huge gains. If the Jekyll/Hyde Falcons offense clicks, Atlanta leaves Philadelphia at 5-1. Hallelujah.
2) Can our defense continue choking the run and forcing turnovers?
I can honestly say that I'm happy and confident with our defense in all areas (league leaders in intercepts, 11 sacks on the year and ranked 8th against the rush, a figure which falls if you exclude the Rashard Mendenhall and Tim Hightower carries). It is a little unnerving being so confident in our D, but maybe it's the sign of a growing dominant force. Spoon/The Police are a tandem to be reckoned with. John Abraham is producing nicely, and forcing pressure which have resulted in at least two interceptions this year (see Stephen Nicholas' pick against the Browns). It turns out that Kroy Biermann is a wide receiver...who knew? This Eagles offense has been both dismal and unstoppable at times. Philly ranks 10th in the rush, 8th in yards and 7th in scoring. Our run defense has been incredible, especially against a much touted Hillis/Mendelhall. The Jonathan Babineaux and Curtis Lofton vs LeSean McCoy battle could be the match up which decides the ball game. Will our defense step up even further and cement themselves as a real force in the league?
3) Who's going to clap for Michael Vick?
It's pretty unclear whether Vick is healthy or not, but if he plays, do the Falcons faithful clap the man? He did, after all, put us at the forefront of the league. I get that this is a personal decision/issue, but I for one would love to see him clapped if he played. That being said, I'd love to not see him play. The threat he offers could turn our defense inside out, and put strain on a secondary which let in plays against Drew Brees and DennisDixon. Plus if the Falcons get an early lead, we could use Kevin Kolb as a tackle bag (and I'm all for seeing Abraham/Biermann/Lofton/C4 Moore/Babineaux rack up a few more stat-padding sacks). Do we want Vick in, to prove that we have a better guy in Ryan, and do we want to make him feel welcome if he is in?
Ultimately I'm picking the Falcons to win this one 28-21, with Turner having another big game to put him in the Pro Bowl picture again (and maybe help my fantasy team out along the way).
There it is, my first real attempt at a contribution to this site. Thanks for reading; now discuss and enjoy. Go Falcons!