The Falcons may be the most underrated team this year. I think many casual NFL fans, and even some diehard ones of other teams, haven failed to realized how much this team has improved. Still with a top offense, a (seemingly) very much improved defense, and a brand new head coach in Dan Quinn who preaches discipline as well as being "fast and physical" team, the Falcons look to be favorites in the NFC South division; possible making a deep run in the playoffs as well. Only a year after a 6-10 season that saw Mike Smith go, and an offseason that saw Blank bring in the coach who I believe can bring the city of Atlanta its first Lombardi Trophy, the Falcons are poised to have not only a winning season, but one that gives them a division crown and can hopefully set the road for lots of success in the many seasons to come.
Here is my predicted outcome of each game as we head into the last week of August and see the opening kickoff in the Dome quickly approaching.
With Atlanta playing its first game of the year at home, in front of what should arguably be the most pumped up crowd since the 2012 NFC Championship game, the Falcons will be coming in with a vengeance, ready to preform in the big stage that the first MNF game of the year will bring. A new coach, revamped defense and the same, productive offense filled with elite weapons will be tough for Philly to counter. The Falcons offense should be able to beat out the Eagles D, and with the only formidable weapon that the Eagles offense will bring being DeMarco Murray, the Falcons new pass rush should be able to focus their efforts and stop big ground gains, especially when talking about a RB yet to prove himself outside of the stacked Cowboys offensive line.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Vic Beasley may have a huge game in his first true contest. He will be eager to prove himself.
Last year, the Falcons fell to the Giants after another disastrous second half coaching performance from Smith. This year, the Falcons should be able to keep what was going in the first half last year going all the way through the whole game this time. Quinn will motivate, the improved defense will preform, and the offense will continue, simply put, being successful. Sure, OBJ may be a cause of problem, but we have a better CB in Trufant than they will be able to put on an equal dangerous Jones, and with a better QB in Ryan, the Falcons should be able to outlast the G-Men, especially with our addition of Beasley, Clayborn, and Durant, and their loss of JPP (barring a medical miracle.).
STANDOUT PLAYER: Julio Jones against a mediocre Giants secondary.
A game of offense, highlights from this game will be Romo to Dez (and Witten), and Ryan to Julio (and White.). With the offensive line that the Cowboys bring, pass rush may still be a slight problem with our still learning defense, and we saw last year what the 'Boys O-Line can allow their RB to do. Atlanta should be able to put up points, but the Cowboys should be able to put up more.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Dez Bryant, especially if he's on Alford's side of the field. If going up against Trufant, he won't be all that spectacular.
By now, you should know my thoughts on our offensive capabilities. After Texas lost their top receiver in FA and their workhorse running back for at least the first half of the season, if not longer, due to injury, the question will not be "is our offense better than theirs", or "can our defense stop their offense", because both of those answers are "yes". Hopkins is still good, and Blue is a valid replacement, but the real problem will be the Texans defense. As long as our line can keep Matt Ryan alive versus Watt and company, the Falcons should be able to squeak by. Don't believe me? Although the phrase goes "Offense sells tickets but Defense wins Superbowl's", in the last decade, we have seen mostly teams with strong offenses, but not (necessarily) as strong defenses win the Super Bowl (with some exceptions.). It seems that in this era now more than ever, offense is getting increasingly more influential to the outcome than defense. Im just rambling now, so, simply put, the Falcons have this needed edge in this game.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Atlanta gets the win, but Watt will be the standout going up against our offensive line.
In an effort to sound credible, I won't take the time to explain why the Falcons will win this game. But they should. Offense and defense will both take advantage of extremely favorable match ups. The only question is how many yards Julio burns the 'Skins for. Will Vic Beasley get double digit sacks in this game alone? We'll have to see.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Julio Jones against De'Angelo Hall.
football at the Mercedes Benz sponsored stadium? The Saints one, to clarify, not the one under construction. The Falcons - Saints is always a great rivalry, and with two good offenses and two defenses about the same (Falcons may have an edge from offseason progress), this should be a great game. While it won't be decided until late in the fourth quarter, the Saints fans should give the Saints enough of an advantage to capture the late game, fan enthused Thursday Night
game in the rivalries first of two meetings on the season.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Drew Brees and Matt rayan will both put up big numbers.
The first drive or two of the preseason game when it was starters vs starters will be the way it goes. Mariota will improve and score, but the Falcons will score a lot more and not give up very many points.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Lots of Falcons will have big days this game.
The Bucs may be better than people give them credit for. Winston - Martin - Evans - Seferian Jenkins is a decent QB - RB - WR - TE punch. But a young offense that the Bucs have compared to the established one of the Falcons won't be a match. Falcons D should anchor down the Dome well to. Remember last seasons series opener with the Bucs? Me to.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Matt Ryan should have a big game. Look for Jenkins to also have a good game in the Bucs loss.
"The ball is into the end zone, pass to White, interfer... NO. WHAT?" Every diehard fan remembers the 2012 NFC Championship game. Everyone remembers the blown call. How it was Atlanta's year to go to the Super Bowl. I've never liked the Niners since. After losing Gore, Crabtree, Iupati, Smith, Willis, Borland, and Harbaugh, this team won't be nearly as competitive. They'll be better than they're getting credit for now, but even on the road, the Falcons should be able to get a win if they play to their abilities. Knowing an off week is coming may help that mindset.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Matt Ryan should enjoy not having to face Neely as tough a defense as the last meeting. Jokes will also benefit and both will have big, impressive days.
WEEK 10 BYE WEEK
The Falcons will be at home and coming off of a bye week, so they will have plenty of time to prepare, energy to use, and fan support. None the less, this will by far be the trickiest regular season game for the Falcons. Going up against another top offense that features and elite QB in Luck, the dangerous T.Y Hilton, and new additions in Gore and Johnson, the Falcons will have no easy task. Neither team will have an elite defense, both most likely having one which will finish the season in the middle of the rankings. So, once again we look at another offensive battle, and with either Hilton or Johnson being line up on Alford's side of the field, that could spell trouble. While Gore has certainly lost a step, he will still remain a threat, as well as the all elusive Luck. I hope to see this matchup in another year or so, however, as that could be one of the better match ups of the whole NFL season. For this year, though, it won't be a blow out by any means, and it had the potential to be close with Atlanta at home, but they will still fall short, it seems.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Luck should do really good this week. So should Ryan, but the win will go to the Colts, mostly in part to Luck.
Last year the Falcons somehow found a way to fall to the Vikings, and to make it worse, the twas a Vikings team that didn't have Peterson playing due to suspension. Although I believe that ATL is a much better team, they just don't stack up well with the Vikings it seems. However, with a new coach in Quinn, the defense should still be able to keep us in it, contrary to last season. As one of the best rushers in the league, Peterson will but up big numbers, but if the D can prevent the rest of the Vikes offense from accelerating while the Falcons offense themselves puts up the numbers that they are capable off, Atlanta should come out with a win. Playing at home will give them an ads shrugs and may just ultimately be the push they need to get the job done.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Peterson, even against a revamped Falcons line and improved defense, will still have a good week. Jokes on Minnesota though when Atlanta still wins.
, Week 13:
This one should be closer than the first one, as it is an away game for the Falcons and the Bucs fans will be their to root on what will presumably be an improved team. Late in the season, Winston will have had plenty of time to figure the professional level out, and the Bucs offense will be harder to stop. Fueled by fan energy, they will put up points, by the Falcons should still not have any trouble both out scoring them as well as playing better defense. I can't see the Falcons even struggling, much less losing, to this team.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Another huge week for Ryan.
, Week 14.
In the Falcons first of two games against Carolina, this years surprisingly very late, the Falcons will struggle. Playing on the road could cause issues, as well as the Panthers defense. Kuechly, Davis, and Har... Oh wait. Still, Kuechly and Davis is a dangerous duo, and the Falcons offensive line will struggle in this one. With the loss of their only formidable offenses weapons for the Panthers in Benjamin, the Falcons defense shouldn't have too much trouble, believe it or not. As long as they can contain Newtons ground game, Carolina's offense should he kept mostly at bay, as will the Falcons offense, in a hostile environment facing a scary defense. Home field advantage will win this one for Carolina in a close matchup.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Kuechly against the Falcons offensive line.
, Week 15:
This game will be huge trouble for the Falcons. Jacksonville's elite offense will wreck havoc and the Falcons offense will struggle all day to put up points against Jacksonville's top ranked defense.
This should be any easy win for Atlanta. Former Bronco Julius Thomas shouldn't do to much of anything this season with Manning, and other than the occasional snag there or rushing burst from Yeldon, Atlanta should easily be able to contain Jacksonville's offense, which, as of now, features no stand out weapons. This should be a very easy win against a weak team, and a much needed one as well, as this game is the only one separating two crucial match ups against the Panthers. This is also Atlanta's last (regular season) road game on the schedule.
STANDOUT PLAYER: The whole team should play really well this week. Justin Hardy should get playing time to give Jones and / or White a break if the leads gets big enough, and he should standout. Fowler should do week for the Jags, as well.
, Week 16:
There's not anything else to say about this matchup then there was two week ago (See Week 14.). The only difference is now the home field advantage will favor the Falcons. In possibly the most important game of the season thus far for Atlanta, the odds are in their favor for a huge (momentum wise, not score-wise) win.
STANDOUT PLAYER: Ryan and Jones will show up again, in a big game and crucial win.
Saints, 1/3, Week 17:
Once again, the Falcons have got the advantage playing at home. It should be a close game, but similar to the first matchup with the Saints, the Falcons should have a slight edge at both offense and defense, and playing at home in front of an ecstatic home crowd should help. It will remain to be seen if this is the one that clinches the division for the Falcons or if that would have been in recent weeks; however, it looks like Atlanta will be poised to win the final regular season game at home, against their long time rivals, and accelerate into the post season.
STANDOUT PLAYER: It depends on who starts, based off of postseason implications, but the whole offense once again had the potential to do real well again in this game.
FINAL RECORD: 12-4
Game most likely to be lost that I have them winning: Vikings. -If AP, Patterson, and Bridgewater all show up, Atlanta could be in a shoutout that could end in bad pass, missed conversion, or blown coverage (something along those lines.). At home should help though.
Game most likely to be won that I have them losing: @Panthers. Yup. That's right. While I picked them to lose because, well, I think they will, if Cam as an off game and Ryan can get the ball away to recovers quickly, they could come out on top. Considering its late in the season, Panther fans, especially those of the bandwagon variety, may not be as passionate as the beginning of the season depending on how the first 13 weeks go.
Have any other games I have them winning that you think they might lose? Or any I have them losing that you think they will win? Say so in the comments!
<em>This FanPost was written by one of The Falcoholic's talented readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The Falcoholic.</em>