This week, as we do every week, we’re going to look at a great reason to feel good about the Falcons’ chances and a reason to tear your hair out in frantic worry. Some of us don’t have hair, but bear with me.
One reason to feel confident: The fireworks show
The Falcons, meanwhile, are on quite a roll. After a beyond-disappointing performance in the first game of the season, the Falcons have rolled up 68 points over the last two weeks, with Matt Ryan rolling up nine touchdowns all on his own. The run game has been a bit spotty—it was great against the Panthers and lousy against the Saints—but the Falcons have been killing it through the air.
That’s unlikely to magically change, too. The Bengals have some very good cornerbacks, but Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are proving to be capable of hurting you regardless of which one you ultimately choose to double team, and the Falcons can spread the ball to Austin Hooper, Mohamed Sanu, Tevin Coleman, Ito Smith, Eric Saubert, Justin Hardy, and Marvin Hall if those two are tied up. There are defenses who will be able to slow Atlanta down, but this doesn’t look like one of them.
One reason to worry: Tackling
The Falcons lost against the Saints for many reasons, but when you come right down to it, missed tackles did as much to swing the game as anything else. The Falcons missed at least 15, per Marquand Manuel, and some of those led to huge gains for Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill. Hell, they even led to a Drew Brees touchdown run.
The Falcons can’t afford to repeat that error against the Bengals, who offer some problematic players of their own. They have speedy receivers, Giovani Bernard available as a dangerous receiving option out of the backfield, and even a solidly athletic quarterback in Andy Dalton. If the Falcons can keep plays in front of them and get a little more out of the pass rush, I feel pretty good about this one. If they continue to whiff, this is going to be a difficult game for them to win unless the offense goes absolutely ballistic.
What are you worried and/or confident about this week?