Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘atlanta falcons’

The Packers and Falcons will meet Saturday night in the Georgia Dome for what many will consider to be the de facto NFC Championship game.  The same teams met in the same place in week 12 with the home team winning 20-17 on a Matt Bryant field goal with nine seconds left in the game.  Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to major yardage, with 344 yards passing and 51 yards on the ground, but not enough scoring for a win.  Matt Ryan and Roddy White were relatively quiet while Michael Turner gained 110 yards on 23 carries.

Georgia Dome

The Georgia Dome will see an explosive game on Saturday night.

The Packers won a tight game in Philadelphia over the NFC East champion Eagles last Sunday.  Rodgers was solid but it was rookie running back James Starks who made the difference.  He racked up a surprising 123 yards on 23 carries.

While the Packers were battling to hold on against the Eagles the Falcons were home waiting to see who their next opponent would be.  At 13-3, Atlanta had a great year and won the NFC South behind the three-headed monster of Ryan, Turner and White.

The Packers win if: Their defense can keep Turner contained on first and second down.  Green Bay’s run defense is just 18th in the NFL and it hurt them in the first game against Atlanta.  They played the run well against Philadelphia last week, giving up just 49 yards on 13 carries to running backs.

The Falcons win if: They can slow down the Packers potent passing game.  The Falcons have not played the pass real well, ranking 22nd in the NFL in pass defense.  They rank only 20th in the NFL in sacks.  They’ll need to pressure Rodgers and excel in coverage to beat Green Bay.

Who do I like: Falcons 34-30

Why: This will be a shootout.  I think the Falcons defense will be able to stop the Packers running game and not allow Starks to break through for another big day.  I expect John Abraham to apply the pressure on Rodgers and the Falcons secondary to do just enough to slow down the Packers passing game.  I think Turner will put forth another solid effort and take some of the pressure off Ryan.  I would not be surprised to see Eric Weems break a big return.

Who do you like in this NFC heavyweight matchup?  Let me know your thoughts on the game in the comments section below.

Photo source: Chrisjnelson at en.wikipedia

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

With just two weeks left in the NFL season many teams are out of the running for the playoffs, others have all but clinched a berth, while a few face critical games in week 16.  There are not as many huge matchups in week 16 as there was last weekend, but there are still some very important battles that feature teams fighting for playoff positioning. 

New York Jets at Chicago Bears
Sunday, 1:00 pm

Both of these teams grabbed impressive road wins last week.  The Bears have a chance to earn the #2 seed in the NFC and the bye and home-field advantage that comes with it.

Key to the game: Chicago’s pass-blocking, which ranks as the worst in the NFL, against the 10th ranked Jets pass rush.

Who do I like: I think last week’s win at Pittsburgh reinvigorated the confidence of the Jets.  Mark Sanchez also proved he can win a game in the elements.  I’m going with the Jets because I don’t believe the Bears will be able to generate enough offense.  Look out for the special teams play in this one.

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

Raider Nation will be ready to terrorize Peyton Manning and the Colts on Sunday

Indianapolis Colts at Oakland Raiders
Sunday, 4:05 pm

The Colts fended off the Jaguars last Sunday to take back control of the AFC South, but they need to continue to win to keep that control.  Oakland lost at Jacksonville two weeks ago in a barn-burner.

Key to the game: The Raiders second ranked rushing attack versus the Colts run D, which ranks 28th in the NFL.  Indianapolis did an excellent job of bottling up the Jaguars running backs last week.  They’ll have to bring that same intensity on Sunday.

Who do I like: I’m going out on a limb here and picking the Raiders.  There was a clear difference in the Colts passing game last week after Austin Collie went out.  And I don’t think that the Colts will find the yards on the ground like they did against Jacksonville.  Indianapolis will also not have the same defensive advantage they had last week when they played on their home turf and instead will be playing on Oakland’s grass.  As a result, the Raiders should be able to run the ball with success.

New York Giants at Green Bay Packers
Sunday, 4:15 pm

It’s kill or be killed in this game.  After last week’s crushing loss to the Eagles the Giants can still clinch a playoff berth by beating the Packers on Sunday.  Green Bay can earn a playoff spot by winning their last two games.

Key to the game: The ability of Aaron Rodgers to advance the ball through the air against the Giants’ second ranked passing defense.

Who do I like: This is really a must win for both teams.  You can expect the Lambeau crowd to be electric.  With a healthy Rodgers the Packers have lost only four games – each one by three points and two of them were overtime defeats.  I’ve got to go with Green Bay at home here.

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
Monday, 8:30 pm

The Falcons can clinch homefield advantage in the NFC with a win.  The Saints will earn a playoff spot with a win on enemy turf.  Atlanta won in New Orleans during week three.

Key to the game: Turnovers – the Saints turned the ball over 13 times in their four losses.

Who do I like: New Orleans may have been caught looking forward to this game while losing last Sunday in Baltimore.  I think the Saints have really had their eye on getting back at the Falcons since they lost in week three.  They have the perfect opportunity to do so in week 16.  I think New Orleans will come out very focused on Monday night and beat Atlanta.  It will only delay the inevitable division championship for the Falcons, but it will send a message heading into the playoffs where they may meet for a third time.

Who do you think will win these four big games?  Share your predictions by posting a comment below.

Photo source: leduardo

Read Full Post »

So far in NFL Week 13 we’ve seen the Falcons and Jaguars step up to take control of their divisions, strong efforts by playoff contenders (Eagles, Packers, Giants and Chiefs) and the resurgence of two expected powers (Vikings and Cowboys).  As interesting as it has all been, it’s now time for the heavyweights to battle and determine what the major storylines of the first weekend in December will be.

But before that happens, here are the Average Guy NFL Week 13 Awards:

Most Impressive Win

Atlanta Falcons – 28-24 at Tampa Bay

Most Important Win

Jacksonville Jaguars – 17-6 at division rival Tennessee

Worst Loss

Indianapolis Colts – 35-38 to the Dallas Cowboys at home

Biggest Surprise

Oakland Raiders

Biggest Disappointment

Miami Dolphins

Offensive MVP

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars – 31 carries 186 yards 1 reception 4 yards

Defensive MVP

Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys – 2 interceptions (one returned 31 yards for a TD) 4 tackles

Special Teams MVP

Eric Weems, Atlanta Falcons – 102-yard kickoff return TD 4 kick returns 163 yards 1 punt return 10 yards

Most Surprising Performance

Benjamin Watson, Cleveland Browns – 10 receptions 100 yards 1 TD

Most Disappointing Performance

Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans – 14 completions 32 attempts 169 yards 2 interceptions 34.5 QB rating

Offensive Rookie

Chris Ivory, New Orleans Saints – 15 carries 117 yards 2 TDs

Defensive Rookie

(beyond Sean Lee) Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants – 2 sacks, 3 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos – 23 carries 161 yards 1 reception 14 yards

Quick Takes

  • I expected Jacksonville to win but I am surprised at the way they dominated Tennessee on both sides of the ball.  It’s looking more and more like the Jags have a legitimate shot to win the AFC South.
  • Drew Stanton played much better than I expected against the Bears.  He was 16 of 24 for 178 yards and a touchdown for a 102.4 QB rating.  He also had a rushing touchdown.
  • Because his team lost he doesn’t qualify for my Defensive MVP but Cliff Avril was tremendous today with three sacks.
  • Looks like the Chiefs did an incredible job against the usually potent Broncos passing game.  They held Kyle Orton to just 117 yards passing and nine completions on 28 attempts.  Wow!
  • Not often you see a team lose four fumbles – but today two teams, the Bills and Redskins, each lost four fumbles.
  • I’m shocked that the Raiders handled the Chargers the way they did.  With both teams heading in opposite directions and the Chargers at home it seemed clear that they would handle their business.  But Oakland came in and ran all over the San Diego defense.
  • We had the privilege of viewing the mostly irrelevant Panthers-Seahawks game so I could not watch the Falcons-Buccaneers matchup.  I’ve got to say I’m impressed with the run Tampa Bay gave Atlanta.  I expected the Falcons to handle them by a couple of scores.

One BIG Question

Which 6-6 team is more disappointing – Colts, Chargers or Dolphins?

What are your thoughts on Week 13?  Let me know by posting a comment below.

Read Full Post »

There are two huge battles in the NFC on Sunday, Green Bay at Atlanta and Philadelphia at Chicago.  I’m going to start my week 12 NFL previews by evaluating the Packers-Falcons game – a matchup that I think could go a long way toward determining who has home field advantage in the NFC Playoffs.

At 7-3 the Packers are a tiebreaker behind the also 7-3 Bears in the NFC North.  After starting the season at 3-3 they’ve settled in and won four in a row.  That streak includes an extremely impressive 9-0 shutout of the Jets in New York (New Jersey).  In their last two wins Green Bay has absolutely throttled their opponent, leading to the firing of that opponent’s head coach.

Atlanta Falcons in the Shotgun

Will the Packers pass rush get to Matty Ice?

Atlanta brings a four game winning streak to the Georgia Dome on Sunday as well.  If you look even further down their schedule they’ve won eight of their last nine.  I was not buying the Falcons until I watched them play the Ravens.  During that game they convinced me that they have everything it takes to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

The Packers win if: Their pass rush can bring down Matt Ryan.  This matchup is strength versus strength.  The Packers are fourth in the NFL with 29 sacks while the Falcons are tied for fifth in the NFL having allowed only 15 sacks.  Clay Matthews is going to have to introduce himself to Ryan early.

The Falcons win if: They contain the Packers passing game.  Atlanta’s secondary is less than stellar and they are currently ranked 24th in the NFL against the pass.  Aaron Rodgers has thrown seven touchdowns and zero interceptions in the last two games.  The Falcons have to keep the Green Bay receivers out of the end zone.

Who do I like: Falcons 31-27

Why: This is a spectacular matchup.  I think both teams will rack up the yardage.  Rodgers will exploit the Falcons secondary but I think the Atlanta defense will hold up a little better in the red zone than the Green Bay defense.  To me the difference is that the Falcons have a much more dangerous running game that they can employ inside the 20.  However, I will say that I don’t think the Falcons can rely on their home field advantage as much as they can against other teams.  With wins at Philadelphia, New York and Minnesota the Packers have proven they can win on the road.

Do you think the Packers can upset the Falcons?  Let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.

Photo source: © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

Read Full Post »

With all the byes behind us, all 32 NFL teams are playing in week 11.  It got off to a surprising start, at least to me, with the Bears dominating the Dolphins in Miami.  With a packed slate, the action on Sunday was happening fast and furiously. There were some big matchups and some telling results.

Devin Hester

The Bears are finding more ways to make their opponents worry

With the very important Giants-Eagles game currently being played, here are the Average Guy NFL Week 11 Awards:

Most Impressive Win

Green Bay Packers – 31-3 at the Minnesota Vikings

Most Important Win

Chicago Bears – 16-0 at the Miami Dolphins

Worst Loss

Cincinnati Bengals – 31-49 to the Buffalo Bills

Biggest Surprise

Washington Redskins

Biggest Disappointment

San Francisco 49ers

Offensive MVP

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – 22 completions 31 attempts 301 yards 4 TDs 141.3 QB rating 3 carries 21 yards

Defensive MVP

Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears – 3 sacks 6 tackles

Special Teams MVP

Bryan McCann, Dallas Cowboys – 97-yard punt return TD, 2 kickoff returns for 55 yards

Most Surprising Performance

Jacksonville Jaguars Defense – held Browns to 88 yards on 27 carries

Most Disappointing Performance

Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins – 3 receptions 41 yards (+ penalties and dropped passes)

Offensive Rookie

Chris Ivory, New Orleans Saints – 23 carries 99 yards 1 TD

Defensive Rookie

T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns – 2 interceptions, 5 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks – 32 completions 44 attempts 366 yards 1 TD 104.9 QB rating

Welcome Back Mike Williams

Mike Williams, Seattle Seahawks – 6 receptions 109 yards

Quick Takes

  • I watched the bulk of the Redskins-Titans game.  I was really impressed with the play of the Redskins offensive line, especially because injuries led to a patchwork group.  They did a very good job of protecting Donovan McNabb and opening up holes for the running backs.  Kyle Shanahan clearly put together an excellent offensive game plan.
  • It was a real shame that Vince Young got hurt.  He was throwing a good ball before the injury.  I don’t know what the heck happend after that though.
  • Rusty Smith is not ready for primetime.  Not even close.
  • Of course, a stat that I always like to look at is third down conversions.  Coming into the game in Tennessee, Washington was last in the NFL on third down conversions at 22%.  In today’s win they converted 50% and it made a big difference in the game.
  • On the topic of third down conversions – they were definitely a factor in the Falcons-Rams game.  Atlanta converted nine of 17, while St. Louis was only one of 10.
  • I was glad to hear some NFL pundits considering a pick of the Rams.  It shows the progress the franchise has made this season.  But the Falcons are just too good to lose that game.
  • The Steelers showed that they truly do have one of the best defenses in the NFL, holding the recently explosive Raiders to just 182 total yards.
  • I was definitely impressed by the Bears and Bucs this week who showed that they are for real by posting shutouts on somebody else’s turf.
  • The Chiefs, Jaguars and Redskins all sent a message not to count them out yet.
  • Shovel the dirt on the Bengals and Vikings.  They are done.

One BIG Question

Can the Dolphins and Titans climb back into the playoff race?  Or are they done now too?

Let me know your week 11 thoughts by posting a comment below.

Photo source: Monica’s Dad

Read Full Post »

NFL Week 10 opened with a bang on Thursday night with the Ravens and Falcons putting on quite a show that came right down to the last minute.  And it was entertaining in between, with two overtime games, two statement wins (Dolphins and Bears) and a couple of big surprises (Broncos and Cowboys).  Now it will be capped off with two critical battles, the Patriots versus the Steelers and the Eagles at the Redskins.

Falcon

The falcon was the mightier bird on Thursday night

As the Patriots-Steelers game is being played, here are the Average Guy NFL Week 10 Awards:

Most Impressive Win

Atlanta Falcons – 26-21 over the Baltimore Ravens

Most Important Win

Miami Dolphins – 29-17 over the Tennessee Titans

Worst Loss

Houston Texans – 24-31 at Jacksonville Jaguars

Biggest Surprise

Dallas Cowboys

Biggest Disappointment

Kansas City Chiefs

Offensive MVP

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons – 32 completions 50 attempts 316 yards 3 TDs 101.8 QB rating

Defensive MVP

Mario Haggan, Denver Broncos – 3 sacks 6 tackles

Special Teams MVP

Devin Hester, Chicago Bears – 2 kickoff returns for 100 yards 2 punt returns for 47 yards

Most Surprising Performance

Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills – 25 carries 133 yards 1 TD 6 receptions 37 yards 1 TD

Most Disappointing Performance

Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings – 18 completions 31 attempts 170 yards 1 TD 3 interceptions 44.5 QB rating

Offensive Rookie

Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns – 18 completions 31 attempts 205 yards 1 TD 0 interceptions 88.8 QB rating

Defensive Rookie

Bryan McCann, Dallas Cowboys – 101-yard interception return TD, 5 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs – 35 completions 53 attempts 469 yards 4 TDs 116.0 QB rating

Welcome Back Mike Williams

Mike Williams, Seattle Seahawks – 11 receptions 145 yards

Quick Takes

  • I watched the entire Ravens-Falcons game on Thursday night and I was really glad that I did.  It was a very entertaining game with two teams that are among the best in the NFL.
  • Matt Ryan was spectacular.  I’ve really been doubting him all season.  After seeing him play on Thursday night I’ve done a complete 180.  His accuracy was really impressive.  His control of the game was superb and he was masterful in bringing his team back for a win for the fifth time this season.
  • I now believe that the Falcons could absolutely represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.  Beyond Ryan, I was especially impressed with both of their lines.  The O-line protected Ryan very well and the D-line was disruptive on almost every play Baltimore ran.
  • The Ravens cannot be happy with Michael Oher’s progress at left tackle.  He was victimized repeatedly by John Abraham.  My notes from the Ravens-Patriots game earlier this season also show him performing poorly.
  • I was surprised the Ravens didn’t go to Ray Rice more often.
  • Looking at today’s games – I’m really impressed with the way the Denver run defense completely turned around against the Chiefs.  They are ranked 31st in the NFL against the run but managed to hold the number one ranked rushing offense to 51 yards on 22 carries.
  • I often like to point to the third down conversion numbers as one of the most important statistics to watch.  This week’s example is the Vikings-Bears game.  Minnesota struggled to convert third downs, finishing one of nine.  Meanwhile Chicago converted 11 of 19.
  • I love the Rams but there are some ugly stats from their game with the Niners today.  The two teams combined to convert a miserable two of 25 third downs.  They were also flagged a total of 26 times for penalties.

One BIG Question

After showing so much promise early, are the Texans now done?

What surprises and disappointment stick out the most to you in week 10?  Let me know by posting a comment below.

Photo source: mikebaird

Read Full Post »

To add to the excitement and fun of the NFL season we will now have a weekly Thursday night game.  The Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons will kick off the regular Thursday night schedule with a battle in the Georgia Dome.  This is a great matchup of 6-2 teams that should feature plenty of hard hits and dynamic plays.

The Raven

Which bird will be victorious on Thursday night?

While they’ve not played quite as well as they had probably hoped before the season, the Ravens are still in a strong position at 6-2 with a win over division rival Pittsburgh.  Surprisingly, Baltimore has been strong with their pass defense even though their pass rush has not been as consistently pesky as it has been in the past.  The Ravens are coming off a good win over the Dolphins.  The best news from that game was that Ray Rice looked the best and most healthiest he’s looked all season.

Atlanta continues to excel in running the ball and stopping the run.  They won an important NFC South battle over Tampa Bay last weekend.  There is concern about the health of Roddy White.  He’s listed as questionable on the injury report.

The Ravens win if: They can slow down Michael Turner and the Falcons running game.  Atlanta ran for less than 70 yards in each of their two losses.

The Falcons win if: They take away the short dump off pass to Rice.  He ate up the Dolphins on Sunday after Flacco found him on the check downs.

Who do I like: Ravens 24-20

Why: Haloti Ngata may be the best defensive player in the NFL.  With him anchoring the line I think the Ravens will be able to contain Turner.  The Falcons absolutely need White to be at full strength to have a chance to win this game.  When Baltimore is on offense I think Flacco will be able to exploit the 26th ranked pass defense, especially now that Donte’ Stallworth is working his way into the passing game.  There’s a good chance this will be the best game of week ten.

Do you agree with my prediction that the Ravens will win or do you see the Falcons pulling it out?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo source: oddsock

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »