Wednesday, August 9, 2017

2017 Atlanta Falcons Week 6-9 Preview

Week 6 Vs. Miami Dolphins (Oct. 15/ 1:00 p.m. ET CBS)

The Miami Dolphins were forced (desperate enough) to bring Jay Cutler out of retirement in the early weeks of training camp after Ryan Tannehill went down with another knee injury. Cutler is 34 and struggled to stay on the field last season with the Bears as he played in only five games before taking a job with Fox Sports as an analyst in the offseason.

Despite the messy quarterback situation, Miami enters 2017 having finished 10-6 last season and earning their first playoff berth since 2008. With some momentum and some solid playmakers on offense, the Dolphins will be looking for a defensive identity with veterans such as DE Cameron Wake (35-years-old), DT Ndamukong Suh (30-years-old) and safety Reshad Jones (29-years-old) getting long in the tooth.

MLB Lawrence Timmons, along with rookies defensive end Charles Harris and linebacker Raekwon McMillan were added to help keep the Dolphins improve an aging defensive unit that ranked 29th in the NFL for total yards allowed last season.

Look for the Falcons to take advantage of a leaky Dolphins’ defense and allow their offensive horses to run wild.

Week 7 @ New England Patriots (Oct. 22/ 8:30 p.m. ET NBC)

The Patriots stole Super Bowl LI from the Falcons. This is a game where formations, statistics, injuries or venue mean little.

The Patriots went into the offseason and got even more talented by signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore and bringing in Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Additionally, perhaps the best tight end in football, Rob Gronkowski, returns from his season-ending back injury.

The Falcons will want to prove (mostly to themselves) that they can beat the Patriots. This will be a swing game for the 2017 season. If the Falcons are able to beat the Patriots, the demons of last Super Bowl’s eve will be vanquished until the playoffs.

Should the Falcons lose this nationally televised rematch, it could send the team on a downward spiral over the second half of the season. The Patriots want to put the Falcons in their place and prove that they are the class of the NFL.

Expect a highly emotional war of a football game.

Week 8 @New York Jets (Oct. 29/ 1:00 p.m. ET FOX)

The Jets are a mess.

They don’t have a clear quarterback, running game, nor any legitimate receivers.

The Falcons will be coming off an emotional ball game against the team that beat them in the Super Bowl and a physical game against the Dolphins in week 6.

This is what we call a “trap game deluxe.” The statistics and names on the respective rosters suggest this should be a rout in favor of the men in red and black. But, it’s the NFL and the Jets are at home.

New York does have a front seven, bringing the possibility that the Falcons could play their worst game of the season in week 8. Look for the Falcons to either narrowly escape or drop a huge setback mid-season.

Week 9 @ Carolina Panthers (Nov. 5/ 1:00 p.m. ET FOX)

The Panthers look to regain their 2015 form when they won the NFC South and made a Super Bowl appearance.

Beating a road weary Falcons team in their third straight road game can make the Panthers relevant again.

The Falcons will look to again attack the Panthers hole-filled secondary after torching the Josh Norman-less unit for 780 passing yards in two games last season.

The Panthers added little to the unit that was ranked 29th in total passing yards allowed in 2016, although they did resign Captain Munnerlyn back from the Vikings. Munnerlyn is the Panthers’ all-time leader in interceptions returned for touchdowns with five.

The Falcons need this game, as they try to gain control of the division race and make their push toward making the playoffs. Panthers could be in a wrong place, wrong time situation by the end of this day.

Jeremy Johnson: @Clark_Kent_75