Kevin C. Cox
Your daily collection of Falcons and NFL news and notes from around the Web.
Happy Friday, Falcons fans. The weekend is nearly upon us, which means Sunday Night football is right around the corner.
Let's dive right into today's news.
Sean Weatherspoon to Miss Cowboys Game
Coach Smith officially ruled Sean Weatherspoon out for the Dallas game following Thursday's practice at Flowery Branch. Not much of a surprise here. While Spoon's absence will surely be felt, it does open up an opportunity for Akeem Dent, who will fill in at linebacker in the nickel formation alongside Stephen Nicholas.
"Each week I go out in practice and continue to get reps within the nickel package," Dent said. "It's no different for me. I always watch Sean when he's in there and get mental reps if I'm not in the game or not on the field in practice."
Ryan Not Interested in MVP Discussion
Matt Ryan is a leading candidate for offensive MVP this year, but our humble quarterback has no interest in talking about individual awards. This is no surprise, as Ryan has proven to be the definition of a team player since joining Atlanta in 2008.
"You’re never going to be completely perfect," he said. "But you’re always trying to work towards that and I’ll continue trying to do that this week."
Through seven games, Ryan has been on pace to break virtually every personal record. He'll be tested on Sunday, though, as the Cowboys currently rank third in the NFL against the pass.
Lose to the Cowboys, Win the Superbowl?
There's been a lot of talk over the last couple of days about how well the Cowboys have faired historically against 7-0 teams. Since 1991, Dallas has gone head-to-head against 7-0 opponents three times—and won all of them. While those teams had their perfect seasons cut short by Jerry Jones' squad, they did share something else in common: all went on to win the Super Bowl. Now, I'm not the kind of person that believes in superstitions or any kind of "greater power" in the sports world; but, if you are that kind of person, then this should serve as some comfort in the event of a loss next Sunday.
Corners Expect a Physical Game Against Dallas
Say what you want about Tony Romo, but the Cowboys have a lot of talent at the WR/TE positions. Of course, this conversation begins and ends with Jason Witten, who is on his way to his eighth Pro Bowl nomination with 487 receiving yards thus far. Toss in the likes of Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, and the Falcons pass defense figures to have their hands full on Sunday night.
"The guys we’ll face Sunday are one of the best receiving corps," Robinson said. "They may be the biggest, most physical set of playmakers that we’ll see so it’s definitely a challenge for Asante and I and Rob in the slot."
Bryant won't be 100% if he plays, but nevertheless, Dallas' passing game has the ability to tear up opposing defenses—and Atlanta knows it. Dunta Robinson, Asante Samuel and Robert McClain have been performing well of late, but stopping the Cowboys air attack goes far beyond the cornerback position. With Witten posing the biggest threat to the Falcons' D, Atlanta will require strong play from guys like Dent, Nicholas, Mike Peterson and the safety corps in double team situations (which we can expect a lot of). The Cowboys' running game is struggling (in part due to injuries), and it's hard to imagine the Dallas winning this week if the Falcons shut Witten down.
Gonzalez Needs Four Catches to Reach 50 for 15th Straight Season
The best tight end in Falcons history is closing in on another milestone. Four more catches will give Tony Gonzalez 50 for the season—and 15 straight years with that many receptions. Just another bullet point for the Hall of Fame resumé.
"I’ve got to give credit obviously to Matt (Ryan)," Gonzalez said. "Matt is playing really, really well right now. This is the best football he’s ever played in his career and I am not surprised by that. As he goes, we go."