The Falcons are big underdogs against the 49ers this weekend, as you might expect. Atlanta’s expected fortunes in that one shouldn’t prevent us from watching on the off chance that the team actually pulls off a miracle on Sunday, and these links will help prepare you for what’s ahead.
Will the Falcons strike gold against the 49ers?
There’s no particularly compelling reason to think so, but that never stops us from breaking down the matchup.
Jeanna Thomas asked fans what message they’d like to send to Kyle Shanahan, David Walker took a look at the rather grim matchup between the Falcons defense and the San Francisco offense, and Kevin Knight broke things down by the numbers. If you’re feeling optimistic about this one in spite of all that, you’ll probably want to keep a close eye on the injury report, as Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman (fresh off his best game of the season) were limited in practice Thursday.
Ricardo Allen, Walter Payton Man of the Year
Throughout this lost season, few players have been more outspoken or left more on the field than Ricardo Allen. The defensive leader has stepped up despite the injury to Keanu Neal, and throughout his time in Atlanta he’s drawn praise from coaches and fellow players for what he’s meant to the locker room.
Now Allen’s also Altanta’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, and as our Evan Birchfield writes, he’s a deserving candidate.
Do be offensive
Every year, we say the offense is one of the best in football from a talent perspective. Every year since 2016, they fall a little short off really impressing the way that talent suggests they ought to.
That’s why Cory Woodroof argues that the Falcons should focus, when the seemingly inevitable changes to the coaching staff come, on getting back to those elite days. This offense isn’t going to magically turn back into the stellar unit it was when Kyle Shanahan was in charge, but there’s no reason it can’t be better than it has been in 2018 under Dirk Koetter, or even what it was in 2018 under Steve Sarkisian. Even in what are likely to be the twilight years of the Matt Ryan era, there’s no particular reason this offense should have more than a single dud a season, especially if Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary work out and Austin Hooper returns.
That focus would kind of a great present, even if we don’t actually get it until the fall of 2020.