Feel confident about the defense
This feels weird to say, but I’m pretty confident in the defense heading into this game. Part of that is due to what the Falcons have accomplished thus far, and the rest is due to circumstances entirely outside of their control.
Let’s start with the good. The Falcons’ defensive numbers are skewed quite a bit by Kirk Cousins’ 10 pass attempts and Carson Wentz’s lack of weapons/injury in Week 2, but they’ve still done a far better job as a collective pass defense than they did a year ago, with Desmond Trufant and the defensive line standing out. The run defense has been more of a mixed bag, but they clamped down hard on the Eagles a week ago after letting Dalvin Cook run all over them in Week 1. Given the talent on hand, it’s a safe bet that they’re going to be better than they were a year ago, and the Colts are far from the most intimidating offense they’ll face.
Those circumstances outside of Atlanta’s control? All of them concern the Colts, who lost Andrew Luck to retirement, have seen Mark Glowinski turn into a pumpkin a bit after a strong 2018, and may well be without stud-in-the-making Marlon Mack for this one. Without Mack in particular, this Colts offense has a capable but not particularly dynamic quarterback, a mixed bag of backs, a good receiving corps with some high end options, and a capable offensive line with a weak spot or two. The Colts will probably still put up points—this defense isn’t that good yet, and Jacoby Brissett and company are still a quality crew—but the defense probably isn’t going to be the reason the Falcons lose this game.
Worry about overconfidence
This Falcons team has shown, again and again, that they can rally from adversity. They did it last year, albeit too late and a dollar short, and they certainly did it last week after that brutal Week 1 loss. The bigger problem comes when you ask the Falcons to keep the good times rolling.
Atlanta’s been accused of being a front-running team many times in the past, to the point where the air of truth around it has become difficult to deny. They’ve also had a problem coming into games where they’re justly favored and coming out with a win, with games against the Browns, Bengals, and Buccaneers looming as examples in recent years.
I’m not suggesting that overconfidence is going to be the thing that dooms Atlanta here, but I think it’s a legitimate concern given what we’ve seen this team do in the past. They’re coming off a physical, gratifying win against the Eagles, a team that has haunted them for years now, and they’re heading into a road matchup against an inferior team (on paper) with injuries at cornerback, linebacker, and running back, the kinds of injuries that could significantly hurt their chances.
The Falcons can’t afford to take this one lightly, and letting off the gas in what will probably be a close game could prove fatal. I hope this team is well past the complacency that has been a problem for them in years past, but we all heard Grady Jarrett talk about the team’s preparation for Week 1, so I’m just going to be over here worrying quietly.