Welcome to this week's game preview, featuring the Atlanta Falcons against their longtime rival...the Bengals? Eh, whatever.
This has all the makings of another shootout; both teams are capable of putting up points in gobs. The Bengals have an awesome receiving corps, a very good QB, and a running back who probably will break at least a couple good runs. The Falcons counter with Cyborg Michael Vick, the two headed tandem of Norwood and Dunn, and then Crumpler and the Pop Warner receivers crew. If Jenkins and Lelie show up, I fully expect this be a very long day for the Bengals' secondary. For that to happen, Vick has to throw accurately while rolling out, as he did last week. As I mentioned earlier this week, there probably is going to be lots of pressure on Vick all day, so he's going to have to use his legs to create some breathing room. I think if the Falcons can put up over 100 on the ground and a couple TDs through the air from Vick, they'll be well on their way to winning.
And what of the defense? Tougher call. The Bengals can be a scary, scary offensive team, though they haven't shown it off as much this year. The Bengals are going to try to pick on the Falcons' weaknesses, of course. Unless Rudi Johnson gets remarkably lucky or just plows through everyone, this game is going to come down to what Palmer and the passing game can do. That obviously concerns me. Crocker, Milloy, and Webster are not premier coverage guys, and Chad Johnson and the Housh of Pain are premier receivers. You can sense the conflict here. If those three can clamp down, get in the way of a few passes, and hit hard when asked to, we'll probably be able to win this.
The key to the game? The dueling QBs. My guess is that whoever has the better game is going to see their team win it, because both team's front sevens are high quality and can create pressure. I really think this has the potential to be another shootout, but only if Palmer and Vick can stay on their feet for most of the game. Of course, all this is rendered moot if the Bengals' defense, currently averaging 127 rushing yards allowed per game, lets Dunn take off in the open field. That'll take quite a bit of pressure off Vick to win this game by himself.
Prediction: Falcons win another close one.