Category Archives: Atlanta Falcons

Another great year. Atlanta Falcons 2017 record prediction.

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!!!

Learn from your mistakes. Super Bowl recap.

Falcons lose!

Falcons lose!

Although they have very different histories, the University of Alabama’s football program (which I also follow) and the Atlanta Falcons have very different histories, their 2016 seasons ended in pretty much the same manner in additional to both having markets in the state of Alabama.

In the National Championship game, Alabama’s offense went cold on the home stretch, tiring out our defense and allowing DeShaun Watson to start a rally that denied us a second consecutive title.

I haven't forgotten that and neither has Saban.

I haven’t forgotten that and neither has Saban.

Something similar happened tonight to the Falcons. In an admittedly great Super Bowl, particularly compared to SB 50’s slow-paced, one-sided cure for insomnia, we outplayed New England for a vast majority of the time, though I do give them credit for never giving up. Through three quarters, we lead 28-9. Tom Brady was getting beat up and their defense was getting shredded.

In retrospect, I should have seen what was coming. Another huge comeback allowed. This is the Atlanta Falcons. But after Stephen Gostkowski kicked a field goal to cut the lead to 28-12, I was like, “what is with the lack of blitzes and creative pressures all of a sudden?” I mean, at least look to score to put the game away. But no, we looked to kill the clock, wearing out the defense (it was on the field for forty minutes) to create another handicap on top of the wrong plays being called.

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I really wish Quinn had left the fourth quarter Super Bowl collapse in Seattle.

What’s more, this eventually instilled a since of panic in the offense that caused Jake Matthews to commit a holding penalty that got the ball out of field goal range. When New England won the toss, I knew we had lost. We had an exhausted defense going up against a red-hot Tom Brady.

No doubt the defense gets upgraded again. Desmond Trufant will either be back or free up cap space. And Chris Chester, the weak link in our overrated offensive line will probably be gone and good riddance.

But can this team please stop taking its foot off the gas before the game is mathematically out of reach? There’s a strong case to be made that if you can nuke the opposition, you should. It’s not like this is unproven. As advertised, this has happened so many times in the Matt Ryan era. If this never stops, I fear that Ryan will retire with a resume similar to Dan Marino’s.

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Fun fact: it’s been decades since the NFL MVP was on the Super Bowl-winning team. Like the award is cursed.

Of course, we have to hire a new offensive coordinator soon. Can’t imagine who.

I’m sure franchise history will recall this as a great season. But the manner in which we fell short is not OK.

I’m thinking of starting to make Youtube videos within the next few months. I may analyze the team from there next season. Either way, I will be back. Right now, season’s over. RISE UP!!!

Let’s do it! Super Bowl preview.

super-bowlWhen the season began, making it to the Super Bowl seemed impossible. My Atlanta Falcons hadn’t made the playoffs since 2012. Few expected significant improvement except for the snaps because we had Alex Mack at center. Of course, things have turned out quite a bit differently.

After two blowout wins over quality opponents, we are in the Super Bowl. We face the New England Patriots or as the memes put it, Emperor Belichick and Darth Brady.

letsdoit1As a fan of the other team, I have serious problems with this. For one thing, when was the last time they destroyed a planet? For another, they’ve only won one Super Bowl in the last decade, which is less than either Manning. You want an empire, try LeBron James, Alabama football, or the Chicago Blackhawks.

Anyway, we haven’t had a very rich history leading up to this. But we can still win a Super Bowl right now. Of course, beating the last team in our way is a tall order.

Currently, we are slight underdogs in Vegas… which means nothing in the Super Bowl. In the current millennium, underdogs have won the Super Bowl most of the time. Two of those “upsets” were over New England. Ironically, their only recent Super Bowl win happened with a “pick ’em” rating.

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Matt Ryan has so many targets that every game he plays has a “pick ’em” rating.

Most pundits are expecting a close, high scoring game. I’m not so sure. Atlanta’s defense has been playing extremely well in the playoffs. And pressure has been known to mentally get to Tom Brady when it happens throughout the the game. Bill Belichick knows this, which is precisely why he is partial to offensive linemen and tight ends. But our pass rushers penetrated a sturdy Green Bay offensive line, why not New England’s? Before you answer, bear in mind that Vic Beasley wasn’t pass rushing. he was spying on Aaron Rodgers in case he scrambled. No need to do that against Brady. Beasley will pursue him.

Here’s hoping we see this a lot.

On the other side of things, the Pats have a strong defense. It’s not impressive in any particular stat, but it is a “bend, don’t break” kind of unit. While their point allowances are undoubtedly downsized by weaker opponents, they are for real on this side of the ball.

That said, stopping Atlanta isn’t as easy as “take away their best player.” There’s playmakers everywhere. Most likely, they need Malcolm Butler to cover Julio without much help or someone else will be open.

All said, I don’t know who’s going to win this. Obviously, I am pulling for Atlanta so we can end the Super Bowl drought. RISE UP!!!

Falcons to the Super Bowl, cheeseheads molded. NFC Championship recap.

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Falcons win!

Bears fans have to have absolutely loved this! You know, the Packers-Bears rivalry. Less elated is probably Drew Magary of Deadspin. He’s a Vikings fan and Packers hater who particularly gives it to the latter for its playoff losses in his annual Why Your Team Sucks previews. You see, he hates my Falcons as well because we ruined the best chance Minny’s ever had by winning the NFC over them back in ’98. Memo to Drew: get over it, it’s been almost twenty years.

But they’re not really what this is about. No, the subject is how a supposedly bad playoff team blew out its opponents in both rounds. As a result, we’re on our way to our second Super Bowl and the overtime win over Minnesota that I just mentioned is dethroned as the greatest victory in franchise history. Here’s hoping that record only lasts two weeks.

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Nothing could beat this!

The final score over Green Bay is 44-15. The scoreboard may say slightly different, but before Aaron Rodgers threw his last touchdown, the refs missed an obvious fumble and Atlanta recovery that should have given us the ball right back.

The offense did what you’d expect them to do. The scored 44 points and racked up over 490 net yards. Matt Ryan even debunked the myth that he can’t move in the pocket with he has to. There was one drive in which his protection and offensive line were breaking down, so he ran for 14 into the end zone himself.

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The Braves’ official Twitter got in on the celebration.

But what nobody expected was the defense pressuring Aaron Rodgers a lot, turning the ball over twice and holding Green Bay’s at least top 5 offense to 15 — shut up about those fraudulent last 6 points! Rodgers under fire all game despite having one of the best offensive lines at stopping pressures. This is particularly encouraging moving on to the Super Bowl.

Does Dan Quinn have the Packers’ number? It looks that way. He is now 4-0 against them. His teams have only allowed more than 22 points once, and two of those wins were blowouts.

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Dan Quinn loves Gatorade.

I read some prominent sports journalists claiming that Matty Ice is leading the MVP race. If so, he may have clinched it today. I think the Patriots have to slaughter the Steelers for Tom Brady to make a compelling case.

We get our third bye week of the season and then it’s time for the big show. What a great, great season this has been! And I believe at this point that we can win the last one. RISE UP!!!

Next week…

Pro Bowl Football

The Falcons will win… I think. NFC Championship preview.

nfcchampionshipLook around the NFL, Dirty Bird Nation. Twenty-eight teams are no longer playing football. Yet our season continues. This is almost too good to be true. But it is! And it’s not over yet. We made it this far, we just might, to quote Tom Berenger in Major League, “win the whole f*ckin’ thing!”

But there’s still two games to win before that. The first comes this Sunday in the last game ever in the Georgia Dome. The volcano-hot Green Bay Packers come to Atlanta to play us, having just overcome a dead run game and secondary to upset Dallas.

Although the Pack has won eight games in a row, we do have some serious advantages in this one.

Fun fact: Dan Quinn is 3-0 against the Packers. Sure, the first to were as a defensive coordinator, but still...

Fun fact: Dan Quinn is 3-0 against the Pack. Sure, the first two were as a defensive coordinator, but still…

First of all, this will be the last ride in the Dome ever. You think we want to leave it with a loss? That will be one Hell of a rallying cry!

Second, if we can score 43 points on the Seahawks (we took a knee at their 2-yard line when the score was 36-20), 52 on the Packers is frankly not unrealistic. Their defense is that bad. After three good performances, it made Matt Barkley and Sam Bradford look like MVP candidates! Although Matthew Stafford’s once-great play was killed by a finger injury, he did wonders against the Pack’s secondary before again proving to be a wounded soldier in Seattle. And don’t let the playoff game vs the Giants fool you. They were dropping passes left and right, though I don’t believe that to be the difference in Green Bay’s 38-13 slaughter of the G-Men.

Third, if you want a Packers game in which they won less than the opposition beat themselves, look to the Cowboys game. Dallas committed an unsportsmanlike penalty that turned a surefire touchdown into a punt. Continuing on their bad roll, Dallas committed pass interference to nullify an interception on what turned out to be a touchdown drive. As much as some don’t want to acknowledge this about the great Aaron Rodgers, the Packers don’t win without these big breaks.

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With this country’s over-consumption, drug use, and under-education problems, maybe the Cowboys really did earn the “America’s team” moniker.

Finally, while our defense may be write home about, we do have Vic Beasley the sack leader of the the league. OK, he probably wouldn’t be the sack leader if not for the JJ Watt injury, but the point stands! If Dallas, with its dearth of good pass rushers, was able to pressure Rodgers a lot in the second half, why not us? Particularly since their offensive line got roughed up and probably won’t be 100%.

So the plan for victory is set: Score early, often, and hit Rodgers enough to keep the Packers down on the scoreboard. Falcons win. It doesn’t even have to be close.

It's funny to think of a potential game changer being an Atlanta pass rusher, but there you go.

It’s funny to think of a potential game changer being an Atlanta pass rusher, but there you go.

But A-Rod is a quarterback who can work a miracle. So you really can’t be sure.

Here’s hoping that the state of Georgia is celebrating a Super Bowl appearance on Sunday. RISE UP!!!

Retribution, playoff vindication, a great potential send-off, and proven contender-ship! Falcons-Seahawks recap.

atlfalcons

Falcons win!

We won the game that meant everything. Memories of the other playoff game that we won over Seattle, the controversial way that earlier loss to Seattle this season ended, and the tight race for the #2 seed, a bit of a rivalry between these teams has emerged. Look for it to continue because I believe they’re on our schedule next season. But for now, we’re the winners.

If this truly was the last game in the Georgia Dome, it was a great way to close it. A 36-20 win in a playoff game and wasn’t even that close. A second interception and a 13-yard run by Devonta Freeman put the ball at the Seattle 2, where we took a knee. I’m surprised by Dan Quinn’s practical play to win rather than shoot to kill approach. His defeated former boss, Pete Carroll, has never had any remorse about running up the score.

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Then again, Seattle’s a team with a 9/11 conspiracy theorist coach, religiously fanatical quarterback, and a brawling defense.

Simply put, the Falcons were unstoppable today! With over 400 yards 34 points (“D” scored 2), this sure wasn’t “playoff Matt Ryan.” It was just Matt Ryan. I don’t want to hear any excuses about no Earl Thomas. I heard the Seahawks-gushing announcers use this as an excuse throughout the game, but one player is not that important. We had to go without Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu for two games and still delivered.

Defensively, the team was just adequate. Russell Wilson was running for his life nearly the whole damn game, Thomas Rawls came back to earth after last week’s admittedly great showing, and Jimmy Graham was shut down. One issue I did have is that a secondary that has been doing very well for some time (even without Desmond Trufant) got beat down the field a lot this time. Then again, they can’t be fully at fault because huge returns by ex-Falcon Devin Hester kept giving Seattle’s offense momentum and decent-to-great field position. I kept wondering why Matt Bosher kept kicking to Hester. “Aim for the 30 if you have to,” I kept thinking to myself.

Still, this defense did its job, all things considered. It allowed just 20 on a 5-loss team. Can’t ask much more than that.

Anyone notice that Matt Ryan has kept wearing that Tom Brady glove despite his thumb being long-healed? A message concerning the MVP race, perhaps?

Anyone notice that Matt Ryan has kept wearing that Tom Brady glove despite his thumb being long-healed? A message concerning the MVP race, perhaps?

As someone looking for justice in this game, seeing Michael Bennett starting fights in frustration over Ryan Schraeder immobilizing him had me all, “this game gets better and better!”

Having said that, I must speak out against a tasteless joke told about a Seattle player by a so-called sports journalist:

Not funny, asshole! If he takes that tweet down, it’s Ian Rapoport joking that the knee injury suffered by Deshaun Sheed killed him. This is the kind of maturity I would expect from a 15-year-old troll.

Yeah, this game got us into it all right!

Yeah, this game got us into it all right!

Back to the game. The refs were almost as offensive as Rapoport, starting with them missing offensive pass interference on Richard Sherman. They also missed obvious details that forced Dan Quinn to use a couple challenges. So you can’t say they were in our pocket. That said, what is the argument for not making flags and no-flags subject to coach’s challenges?

Great win! Blowing out a good team can’t be taken for granted. RISE UP!!!

Next week…

nfcchampionship

Time to prove the naysayers wrong! Falcons-Seahawks preview.

atlfalconsVs.seahawks

Revenge is on my mind, of course. There was a certain no-call on pass interference that you may have heard of earlier in the season. Additionally, there were late hits quarterback hits that were not called, they just weren’t obvious enough to make the news.

But a bigger deal, at least for me, is proving that yes, Virginia, the Atlanta Falcons can win in the playoffs. Ironically, we were winning playoff games in the decades before Ryan, we just weren’t getting to the playoffs often enough to build off those wins. By contrast, the Matt Ryan era has been 75-57 in the regular season and 1-4 in the playoffs. So while Matt Ryan is by far the winning-est quarterback in franchise history, both Chris Chandler and Mike Vick have better playoff records, despite Ryan being statistically better in every way.

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I never bought this excuse either. LSU would have at least double its number of National titles if not for a guy named Nick Saban.

Are we headed for another choke? Doesn’t look like it. An in-depth look at quarterbacks’ seasons reveals that contrary to popular belief, they do not play well throughout the whole regular season, then fall apart in the playoffs. Noted choke artists of recent memory Andy Dalton, Phillip Rivers, Tony Romo, arguably Peyton Manning, and Carson Palmer all had their play drop precipitously in their last few games as the playoffs drew near on the years of their choke jobs.

Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has been playing as well as ever. Hasn’t thrown a pick in a number of games. His yardage and touchdowns are as impressive as ever and actually diminished by the fact that in all of the last four games, we got conservative if not took Ryan off the field in the fourth quarter because we were so far ahead. He was obviously playing much worse late in the 2008 and 2010 seasons. You could also make a case for 2011 because while his stats were good, we got blown out of New Orleans. 2012, the year we did fine in the playoffs, saw no late season regression. Also, choking teams tend to not do well in prime time games either (because that’s also a big stage). We dominated both of ours, but have struggled in that environment in the past.

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Overshadowed by the presidential debate or not, this was quite a Falcons moment.

As far as the Seahawks go, they’re the worst road team that won’t pick early in the Draft. And they come to what has a slight likelihood of being the last Georgia Dome game ever (Packers would have to play there, Cowboys wouldn’t). For the second straight season, their defense has been incapable of stopping the better quarterbacks of the league (no, Matthew Stafford with a bad finger doesn’t qualify), although it is really good against the run. The loss of Earl Thomas hasn’t exactly helped matters.

Now, it’s entirely possible that they can score points as their offense has improved. I’m not quite sold. 31 points on Arizona’s second-ranked defense is impressive, but being unable to get much offense going on Detroit until their unimpressive “D” got tired from having to stay on the field is not. If our pass rush gets to Russell Wilson, I can’t see us losing this game. If not, we’re only slight favorites.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is sacked by Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker Akeem Dent (52) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Self-explanatory.

Here’s hoping for an appearance in the NFC Championship RISE UP!!!