Game 1: Falcons at Bears
OK Folks. The list none of you wondered about. Here's my full prediction for the 2011 Falcons regular season. This prediction is guaranteed to be completely inaccurate and full of non-truths and conjecture. Feel free to rip it apart and humiliate me through insults, disagreements and general human disdain.
Here it is - the first true test of what this team is made of. Going up against the winners of the NFC North, this game would normally be a scary one - except for the fact that it's Jay Cutler and an offensive line made up of 5th graders. Falcons offense struggles in this one as Ryan seeks to establish chemistry with his new weapons, but the defense shines. Cutler will be sacked so many times, his future children will have constant headaches.
Falcons win: 21 - 3 (1-0)
Game 2: Eagles at Falcons
The Return of Vick to Atlanta. Don't be shocked to see a plethora of #7 jerseys all over the Dome that day. Which will be good, because Philly will need someone to substitute for Vick after his head is ripped off by Abe, Edwards, Babs, Jerry and Beer-man. However, the Eagles have some kind of voodoo curse on this team and as much as I want our guys to beat them - I don't think it happens here.
Eagles win: 14 - 13 (1-1)
Game 3: Falcons at Buccaneers
So, Matt Ryan has never lost back-to-back games in 3 years. Guess what - it doesn't end here. The loved - but oh-so-over hyped Bucs prove they still don't know how to beat a winning team and show that Freeman can only do so much. Matt Ryan dissects their defense like a surgeon and has a near career day.
Falcons win: 35 - 21 (2-1)
Game 4: Falcons at Seahawks
This will be the game that reminds NFL fans that the NFC West should be considered the minor leagues. With a retooled defense, a QB competition between Tavaris Jackson and Charlie WhiteHurst, and a general malaise over the franchise, the Seahawks will serve as a rest game for the birds. To make it a fair game, Matt Ryan will throw left-handed - and he'll still throw for over 300 yards. Michael Turner will run the whole game sideways and still put up 150 yards. A truly ugly game.
Falcons win: 45 - 3 (3-1)
Game 5: Packers at Falcons
Probably the toughest game of the year, and a possible preview of a postseason matchup, I believe the Falcons will draw on the playoff loss to muster up the gusto to pull this one out. Green Bay is formidable - no doubt - but I think Ryan and the offense and Lofton and the defense will have a major chip on their shoulders for this one. A brutal game that sees the Falcons barely squeezing another one out.
Falcons win: 28 - 27 (4-1)
Game 6: Panthers at Falcons
Sorry Panthers fans. I know you all look at what Atlanta did in 2008 and think that you can do the same. However, the problem you have is that Newton is about as accurate as a shotgun. I do think Newton will run for over 70 yards in this game, but I also think our secondary picks him off repeatedly. A growing game for Newton, another win for the birds.
Falcons win: 42 - 14 (5-1)
Game 7: Falcons at Lions
These aren't your parents Lions. This is a team on the rise and I think they have a shot at making the playoffs. So long as their QB doesn't prove to be their version of Chris Chandler. Six straight games, with some brutal opponents and I think the birds are setup for a small disappointment. In no way a blow-out, I think the Falcons drop this one - barely.
Lions win: 24 - 21 (5-2)
Game 8: Falcons at Colts
The bye-week will serve the Falcons well as they travel to the promised land to meet the Lord - Peyton Manning. By this point, Manning will be back and will be back to racking up 400 yards per game in his quest to take every record away from Favre. However, the Colts D is not what it was and Ryan shows the NFL that the comparisons to Manning are accurate. Ryan dices up the Colts D as he finally starts clicking with all of his offensive weapons. This will be a break-out game for the Falcons and send a statement to the rest of the NFL. The birds are for real.
Falcons win: 35 - 28 (6-2)
Game 9: Saints at Falcons
I can't stand the Saints, but they are a very tough team. But for some reason, games between these two teams always stay close and almost always come down to the wire. However, Mike Smith will pull out pictures of the Saints taking pictures in the middle of the GA Dome last year. The Falcons D takes it personally, and finally realizes that Drew Brees can be tackled. Falcons and Saints beat the snot out of each other, but the birds take this one.
Falcons win: 42 - 35 (7-2)
Game 10: Titans at Falcons
For a team that once was a perennial contender, the Titans have fallen hard. Jake Locker looks like he'll be a good player, and any team with Johnson in the backfield is going to be hard to beat, but the birds are on a roll at this point - and they just way outclass the Titans. Not a gimme game, but not a struggle either.
Falcons win: 38 - 27 (8-2)
Game 11: Vikings at Falcons
The Vikings may be one of the worst teams in the league now and it will show here. Their patch-work offensive line will suffer and their aging defense will be like candy to Ryan and crew. A sad day for Minnesota fans.
Falcons win: 42 - 7 (9-2)
Game 12: Falcons at Texans
Every year, the pundits predict that this is the year the Texans will make it. Every year, the Texans flounder at the end of the season. But not this year. They look to have a stout defense (finally) and their offense is already amazing. Schaub greets his former team with a loss to a future playoff team.
Texans win: 35 - 28 (9-3)
Game 13: Falcons at Panthers
At this point, Jerry Richardson may well be in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes and the back-and-forth between Clausen and Newton will destroy the confidence of both QBs. Their defensive line proves weak in the middle and the combo of Turner, Snelling and Quizz will beat them into complete submission. Their lack of good corners will leave them open for the punishment of White, Douglass and Jones. They'll move one step closer to landing Luck in 2012.
Falcons win: 31 - 10 (10-3)
Game 14: Jaguars at Falcons
The Jaguars will shift to their rookie QB during the year and the Falcons will use this game to welcome him to the league. Our backfield punishes their receivers and Jones will have his way with their undersized DBs. Falcons lock up a playoff spot and remain in contention for the NFC South, and the #1 seed.
Falcons win: 28 - 3 (11-3)
Game 15: Falcons at Saints
And this is where it ends. The Saints will have a good season, and this is the game where they take the lead in the NFC South. Falcons will contend, but Brees in the obnoxious bowl is so hard to beat.
Saints win: 24 - 21 (11-4)
Game 16: Buccaneers at Falcons
Falcons will still have alot to play for, as they look to lock up the highest wild-card seed. Buccaneers will improve during the year, but so will the birds. It's hard to imagine, but I think the Falcons sweep the Bucs this year and finish with a bang.
Falcons win: 35 - 17 (12-4) - #5 Seed in Playoffs
At some future point, I'll give my utterly pointless prediction to the postseason, including my belief that the Birds will win AT LEAST one playoff game.
What do you think? Are we destined for a fourth straight winning season and another playoff spot? Or am I underestimating the start of our schedule, and are we destined for a let-down?