American football is my favorite sport. While I do enjoy watching the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, and Nashville Predators a lot, they’re not football teams. Still, a taste of the next NFL season was given to with the release of the 2017 schedule. I now know not only the opponents of my Falcons but also their order.
I see us doing very well again. Steve Sarkisian doing well as offensive coordinator. He’s experienced and hasn’t had those drinking issues that some fear come up in some time. And don’t sell short the notion that Kyle Shanahan has been given a bit too much credit as we used the no huddle offense a lot, which required Matt Ryan to sometimes run the offense.
I do still see our offense regressing somewhat from the dizzying highs of 2016. But experience for our young defense and the additions of Dontari Poe and a pass rusher and/or safety in the draft should boost our defensive play that was already at a very high level in the latter half of the regular season and in the playoffs Thus, the team will be more balanced, which should work in our favor.
Without further ado, here’s how I see the games going.
Week 1: @Bears
The NFL has made everybody look bad. A trip to Chicago, not the Super Bowl rematch with the Patriots, is our first game.
Mike Glennon, a quarterback who couldn’t win the starting job from Josh McCown or Jameis Winston is Chicago’s quarterback. Some think he’s only filler until another quarterback coming out of the draft develops. Makes perfect since. Anyway, they can’t put many points on our defense with an even worse offense than last year. Their so-so defense will stop this from being a 30-point drubbing, but just barely.
But I’ll say this for Glennon: He has the most distinctive neck in the NFL.
Result: 37-10 (1-0)
Week 2: vs. Packers
Rematches of all of our postseason games are scheduled. This one is on the big stage of Sunday Night Football. With no Eddie Lacy and the Pack appearing to have lost as much on defense as it has gained, this remains the most quarterback-dependent team this side of the Colts, so it’s a good thing they have Aaron Rodgers. Regardless, Dan Quinn will be 5-0 when coaching against Green Bay because of there mediocre defense, and history inconsistency in warmer climates. If this were in snowy Lambeau, I’d probably chalk this up as a loss.
Result: 31-24 (2-0)
Week 3: @Lions
This time we do have to play in a cold environment. No sweat, we get the Lions, who can’t seem to beat above .500 opponents other than the Packers, who Matthew Stafford still has a losing record to. We got this!
Result: 34-26 (3-0)
Week 4: vs. Bills
OK, we always seem to have this one game against lesser adversaries who press what strengths they have to prevail (Bears ’14, 49ers ’15, Chargers ’16, all division rivals ’12). I’ve got this as that game. LeSean runs for a dollar, five dimes, some pennies and a pair of touchdowns on us while a defense that should be better with Rob Ryan out of the picture stops us from responding to every score.
Our reaction to losing to the Bills.
Result: 26-30 (3-1)
Week 5: bye
Yeah, our bye comes already. Earliest bye since 2013. We got banged-up into oblivion that year. I hope that’s not an omen…
Week 6: vs. Dolphins
I’m sorry, I don’t see this as the surging team that others do. The AFC East got a very easy schedule and weak conference last year that enabled Miami to make the playoffs while beating next to nobody significant. The reality is that while their defense is fine, their offensive line will limit them until it is addressed.
Result: 27-13 (4-1)
Week 7: @Patriots
Ah, yes, the Super Bowl rematch. It may not have kicked the season off, but the NFL did put it in prime time.
I think we’ll actually win this time. We’re hungry for revenge and really, we would’ve won the Super Bowl if the pressure on Tom Brady hadn’t been stopped due to our defense getting tired on account to offensive line injuries and Shanahan’s curious decision to not go for a game-winning field goal. This time, the pressure never lets up and we know better than to try to convert third and forever in field goal range. But it will give us a feeling of “two little, too late.”
Result: 26-20 (5-1)
Week 8: @Jets
With a defense of past-their-prime players and Josh McCown as the likely starting quarterback, the J-E-T-S are ready to T-A-N-K! It goes without saying that we’ll beat them. The admirably passionate fans in Metlife Stadium will nonetheless cheer hard until midway through the second quarter, though.
Will Fireman Ed keep the crowd going?
Result: 38-7 (6-1)
Week 9: @Panthers
Ordinarily, three straight road games would be brutal, but we have performed exactly the same on the road as at home for three straight seasons. Throw in an opposing quarterback who was allowed to play through a torn rotator cuff and the fact that sub-par Matt Kalil will be charged to protect Cam from Vic Beasley, and this is another win.
And yes, seven games have gone by before the first single divisional bout. Guess the NFL thinks we’re shoo-ins to win the South.
Result: 24-10 (7-1)
Week 10: vs. Cowboys
Thought to have been a classic shootout pitting Matt Ryan and Julio Jones against the best offensive line in football, cheap Jerry Jones has ruined that idea by allowing a couple starters to walk. Dallas still does fairly well this year because it has a lot of remaining talent, but not enough in this one.
Result: 31-21 (8-1)
Sorry, Dak, but you can’t count on this kind of protection this time.
Week 11: @Seahawks
Oh, God. A trip to Centurylink Field. It’s not the West Coast trip or Seattle with Eddie Lacy (who cheerleading coach Pete Carroll might not be able to discipline into keeping his weight down anyway). It’s how many breaks the ‘Hawks seem to get at home by the refs. Bribery? Remarkably loud home crowd that officials won’t defy. I dunno. I just know that this team that is pissed off at what we did to them in the playoffs and hammering the final nail in the coffin of their dynasty. So they will play dirty and get away with it!
My game plan? Matt Ryan just needs to avoid injury on this Monday night from the late hits Michael Bennett will deliver. Throw picks if you have to, just live to fight another day.
Result: 20-34 (8-2)
Week 12: vs. Buccaneers
I still don’t think Jameis Winston is a very good quarterback, even with DeSean Jackson, but Tampa Bay’s defense is really good and was the reason for the team’s late season push in 2016. I don’t disagree with the hype they’re getting. I also see them beating us.
Result: 13-20 (8-3)
Week 13: vs. Vikings
With a declining Adrian Peterson seeming poised to leave the Vikings, this team has one of the worst offenses in the league. Defense is another story, but I don’t see a loss here.
Result: 21-13 (9-3)
Week 14: vs. Saints
I think New Orleans’ days of owning us are at an end. First of all, we’ve swept them twice in three seasons. Second, they don’t have Brandon Cooks anymore which will hurt their offense bad. Third, inept general manager Mickey Loomis is still there, so I don’t see their defense not being awful. I hope the Saints keep him forever.
“Can’t believe I convinced Benson that if I got another year, I could out-negotiate Bill Belichick in a trade! Damn I’m smooth!”
Result: 31-27 (10-3)
Week 15: @Buccaneers
As both these teams are road warriors, here’s the game in this rivalry that we win.
Result: 30-21 (11-3)
Week 16: @Saints
After their anniversary bash was ruined last year, and now having lost three straight to us, the Saints will be playing their best football of the year. Drew Brees throws an overtime touchdown to win it.
Result: 34-40 OT (11-4)
Week 17: vs. Panthers
Sadly, Cam Newton is probably out by this time because he’s said to probably not be 100% for awhile into the season. And again, he’s recuperating behind Matt Kalil. I think we win either way.
Not saying I want cam to be knocked into the IR. It’s just my honest conclusion.
Result: 27-6 (12-4)
So I have us going 12-4 and getting a top two seed. Will we bring a Super Bowl to Atlanta this time? There have been a number of teams (Cavaliers,Clemson football, North Carolina basketball) redeeming championship game losses the very next year. I’m far from calling it, but we’ll see. RISE UP!!!