It’s bounceback time. If the Falcons want to avoid a lot of shouty thinkpieces and podcasts, not to mention furious fan emails, it’s probably a good time for them to impressively win in Dallas, move to 1-1, and make it clear that that Week 1 effort against Seattle was not indicative of who they are and who they’ll be in 2020.
Easier said than done, of course. The Dallas Cowboys are keen to avoid 0-2 and bounce back themselves, and they’re quite capable of beating a Falcons team playing well, to say nothing of one that plays poorly. We’re banking on this Falcons team doing what they’ve so often done in Week 2 and winning—they haven’t started 0-2 since 2007, incredibly—but obviously that’s a nervous sort of banking.
Here’s what a few of our writers think lies ahead for this team.
Falcons 30 - Cowboys 28
I had an 8-8 season prediction, figuring either the Seahawks or Cowboys game would be a complete bust, but not both. With Seattle proving to be the implosion, I’m expecting the Falcons to continue their Week 2 streak of wins. Where we go from there, nobody knows.
I do expect this to be another frustrating effort, even if it ends with a win, because Dallas is a tough football team and this offense isn’t going to become a machine in one week, and nor is the defense going to work out all its issues at once. Just getting a victory here and keeping things moving would be a big deal, given what’s going to happen to this team and the coaching staff if they lose miserably this week, so let’s hope this is right. - Dave Choate
Falcons 28 – Cowboys 21
After what we saw last week, it’s hard to feel confident that the Falcons will make this a competitive game and even come close to winning. However, this team has a history of making little to no sense when it comes to games they win and lose. They have no business winning this game, and that’s exactly why I think that they will.
Last week, Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown did relatively well against the Cowboys and I think if Dirk Koetter can properly use Todd Gurley, we’ll see a similar result. Gurley was averaging 5 yards per carry during the first half of Week 1, and then the team completely shied away from him. This has the potential to be a big Gurley week. - Evan Birchfield
Falcons 28 - Cowboys 27
I should know better than to be optimistic, but here I am making the same mistakes year over year. Yet, this is more about the players than it is the coaches. And some dumb luck thrown in. I believe Atlanta has a very talented roster that’s capable of doing so much better than they did Sunday. I also believe they will bounce back in Dallas. When you add in the fact that Dallas is missing some key guys due to injury, particularly at linebacker, there’s reason to think the offense can put some points up.
Still, the Dallas pass rush gives me pause and the Atlanta coaching staff simply has to do better (assuming they’re even capable). This could go sideways just as easy, but I’m putting my cards in the optimism camp at least one more time. Please prove me right, Falcons. - David Walker
Falcons 31 - Cowboys 34
There is this weird feeling in my stomach about this game. Now, there is the possibility this feeling is due to that vegan lunch I had. Or this could be a feeling that even though certain things align for the Falcons to win this game due to a banged up Cowboys team, they have found ways in the past to somewhat trip up and not win this type of game handedly.
The Falcons offense totaled 506 yards of offense last week yet was on the losing end. The same can happen this week. One key factor is corralling a physical Dallas defensive front. Another factor is winning on third downs on defense, which is one positive that was taken from the season opener against Seattle. If the Falcons are able to keep the Dallas defense on their heels and generate a turnover or two on defense, they’ll walk out with a win. If they allow the Dallas defensive line to dictate game flow and Dak Prescott to find a rhythm with his explosive receiving corps, the Falcons can find themselves walking out of AT&T Stadium with an 0-2 record. - Eric Robinson
Falcons 28 - Cowboys 31
I think we’ll see Atlanta look much better in this game than we saw them look in Week 1, but I don’t have confidence in Atlanta’s young corners keeping up with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb throughout the afternoon. This is a much better receiving corps than what we saw in Seattle, and Zeke Elliot is also a better RB than Chris Carson.
The Falcon offense should be dominant, as Dallas will have similar issues keeping up with Julio, Ridley and Gage. I’d like for them to utilize a similar approach as the Rams did in neutralizing Dallas’ pass rush with the run game and using that to set up big play action down the field, but my faith in Dirk Koetter not abandoning the run game at the first speed bump is very small. If Tyrone Smith doesn’t play then my confidence in winning this game will grow, but we can’t assume that we won’t just yet. Dallas in a close one for now. - Adnan Ikic
Falcons 34 - Cowboys 30
On paper, this is a bad matchup for the Falcons. They’re on the road against a difficult opponent who has the firepower to outpace Atlanta’s offense—a recipe which will probably result in defeat most of the time for this team. However, Dan Quinn has never lost in Week 2, and for whatever reason the Falcons always seem to turn it on in the second game of the season. I think they’ll do that again on Sunday, shocking Cowboys fans and the NFL as a whole.
Offensively, Atlanta should be able to score on Dallas. The Cowboys are depleted at LB and feature a young, unproven secondary that lost their best player in CB Byron Jones to free agency. As long as Dirk Koetter features a somewhat reasonable scheme, this team should put up points. On defense, things might be lining up nicely for Atlanta. Dallas is already down two OTs and is starting UDFA Terence Steele at right tackle, and LT Tyron Smith did not practice on Thursday or Friday. He’s officially questionable, but if he happens to miss the game, Dallas has very few options to play on the outside. If the Falcons can apply the same level of pressure they did in Week 1, it could be just enough to help them outscore the Cowboys in Week 2. — Kevin Knight