Friday, July 28, 2017

2017 Atlanta Falcons Week 1-4 Preview

Week 1 @ Chicago Bears (Sep. 10/ 1:00 p.m. ET / FOX)

The Falcons head north to battle with the Chicago Bears who were less than impressive last season. They finished 2016 with only 3 wins, all coming at home. The Bears do not have much to be excited about. With the release of WR Alshon Jeffrey, and the cutting of QB Jay Cutler, the Bears seem to be going into rebuild mode. It will be interesting to see if first round draft pick Mitch Trubisky makes the start at quarterback, but I would not put money on it. Expect to see QB Mike Glennon under center for Chicago.

The one shining light coming from the Bears franchise is RB Jordan Howard. Dude can play. He did not get as much recognition last season, considering the other RB talent in the league, and the fact that the Bears went 3-13. Nonetheless, he had over 1,300 rushing yards to finish 2nd in the NFL behind Ezekiel Elliott. The Falcons need to contain him. If they don’t, this might not be a blowout.

It is worth noting that the Falcons have not won at Soldier Field since ’83. They have also lost to the Bears in their last two meetings. Just something to worry about if you are a superstitious type.   

Week 2 vs. Green Bay Packers (Sep. 17/ 8:30 p.m. ET / FOX)

The Green Bay Packers come back to Atlanta in an attempt to redeem their horrid performance on January 22 that lead to a dominating Falcons’ victory for the NFC crown.

We should see a stronger opponent in the Packers this time around. First off, they are going to be ticked off; I mean I totally would be. Getting shut out in the first half of the NFC Championship is embarrassing.

Green Bay had a slew of injuries last season, much of them being in the secondary. With the addition of TE Martellus Bennett, the burden of playmaking will rest a little less heavy on QB Aaron Rodgers’ shoulders now.

Nevertheless, DQ and the Falcons have the Packers number. As long as the defensive line keeps #12 in the pocket, his playmaking abilities will be limited. Look for the game to be similar to the Week 8 matchup last season—a 33-32 win by Atlanta.

Week 3 @ Detroit Lions (Sep. 24/ 1:00 p.m. ET / FOX)

The Detroit Lions had a 9-7 record last season and made it to the postseason for the second time in 3 years. The Lions were a good team in 2016, but not a great team. QB Matthew Stafford is certainly a star, but the same cannot be said about the Detroit Lions as a whole.

The fact of the matter is, the Lions did not beat a playoff team last season. Go back and look. Furthermore, 5 of their 7 losses came from teams that all made the playoffs.

If the Lions cannot compete with playoff caliber teams, then the matchup against the Falcons will certainly be tough for them. They do not have a great run game, and their best receiver is Mega…. Golden Tate? Marvin Jones? One of those.

I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say the game will be close. After all, each of their losses last season were close games. Say what you want (I already have) but the Lions are certainly fighters. Look forward to a physical, and fun game to watch.

Week 4 vs. Buffalo Bills (Oct. 1/ 1:00 p.m. ET / FOX

Bills Mafia will be traveling to the newly constructed Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first game of October. I would not set a high ceiling for the Bills because, like the Lions, Buffalo had trouble beating playoff teams last year. However, they did shut out the Patriots, which is certainly impressive.

QB Tyrod Taylor and RB LeSean McCoy are definitely players the Falcons’ defense needs to watch. McCoy can carve up defenses like it is nothing. If the Falcons aren’t careful, this game could mirror the 2016 game against the Eagles. Tyrod Taylor may not be an elite QB, but he is a scrappy, dual-threat player and can put up points if you let your guard down.  

Bottom line: if the Falcons come to play, they come out with a W. If they let their guard down…upset alert.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Deion Jones and Keanu Neal Exceeded Expectations in 2016

The Falcons drafted safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones in the first two rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft. There were many critics to this draft class, especially these first two picks. Overall, this draft class received a C+ ranking from SB Nation. As of now, that sounds ridiculous. Both Neal and Jones became starters last season…and for good reason too.

Keanu Neal finished his rookie season with 106 tackles and 8 passes defended. However, his 5 forced fumbles are his most impressive stat. Pro Football Focus has Keanu Neal with the second lowest passer rating allowed from the slot—elite Broncos cornerback Chris Harris ranks first.

Deion Jones racked up a combined 108 tackles last year, including 5 for loss. He forced 1 fumble in the 2016 regular season, and 1 during the Super Bowl. Most impressively, Jones picked off 3 passes, with two resulting in touchdowns. He also had an exciting pick in the NFC divisional round, killing any chance of a Seattle comeback.

Accoridng to Pro Football Focus, Deion Jones had the 2nd-highest run stop percentage among rookie LBs, stopping 9% of run plays. Out of 9 rookie LBs in the NFL last season, he allowed the fewest yards /cov snap, allowing only 0.97 yards.

There was much negative criticism regarding the Falcons decision to draft Neal and Jones. Many people believed Head Coach Dan Quinn drafted these players too early, insisting that there were better players available. All those critics are quiet now, and it seems as if Dan Quinn has found the playmakers he needs to make the rest of his defense rise to any challenge. In Dan Quinn we trust.


Monday, July 10, 2017

#2 should’ve been Number 2

Let me be clear, Matt Ryan got snubbed in the NFL’s Top-100 players list. If I am being honest, many players got snubbed. I mean…David Johnson at number 12 while Zeke is at number 7? There are too many fallacies, but we’re going to focus on the case for Matt Ryan.

Matt Ryan had the best season of his career in 2016. He edged out Tom Brady in passer rating, and threw ZERO interceptions in postseason play.

I’ll admit, Tom Brady deserves to be number 1. With that being said, Matt Ryan should’ve been right behind him. Instead, Le’Veon Bell, Odell Beckham, Jr., Ezekiel Elliot, Aaron Rodgers, Khalil Mack, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Von Miller separated the Super Bowl 51 quarterbacks on the list.

I have an issue with the ranking of the aforementioned, besides Julio Jones. You cannot be mad at Don Julio for ranking third. Do not disrespect the Don.

If Von Miller is in the top-10, then Vic Beasley Jr. should be right above him. Sure, sacks are not the only statistic that counts, but it is a very important stat. Furthermore, Von Miller’s team did not even make it to the playoffs.

The others are definitely worthy of the top 10, but not ahead of Matt Ryan because HE WAS THE LEAGUE MVP!! Ezekiel Elliot, however, was given too much credit in 2016. I don’t know if it is because he’s on the cowboys, or what, but he should not be in the top 10.

Maybe Matt Ryan is not getting more credit because of how great his supporting cast is. Maybe it is because this year is his first spectacular year. What I do is: Cam Newton was number 1 on this list last year and he quit on his team before the Super Bowl was over.