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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Turner’

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

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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

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The most important game in week nine is:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, 1:00 pm

Atlanta Falcons banner at Georgia Dome

Can the Bucs continue their surprising season at the Georgia Dome?

Ladies and gentlemen…your two leaders in the NFC South…the Atlanta Falcons and the…the…Tampa Bay Buccaneers?  The Bucs have to be the biggest positive surprise in the NFL at this point.  With the exception of interceptions, a category in which they lead the NFL with 14, they are not overwhelming in any specific area.  However, they’ve been very impressive in their ability to find a way to win.  They are tied for last in the NFL with only six sacks.  They are 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game.  But, as their head coach Raheem Morris has said, “stats are for losers.”

The Falcons on the other hand were expected to excel and they have, losing only twice, both games in Pennsylvania.  They’ve been good in both areas on offense, ranking fifth in rushing yardage and 11th in passing yardage.  They also rank sixth in the NFL in rushing yardage allowed per game.  Roddy White in particular has been absolutely outstanding, racking up 54 receptions for 747 yards and five touchdowns.

The Buccaneers win if:  They can win the turnover battle by two or more.  They are really going to need to force the Falcons to give up the ball and probably need to return one for a touchdown.

The Falcons win if:  They can exploit the weak Tampa run defense.  Michael Turner should be poised for a huge game.

Who do I like:  Falcons 31-10

Why: Atlanta has a lot more talent than Tampa Bay, they are coming off their bye week and they’ve won nine of their last 11 games at home.  The Falcons should be running all over the Georgia Dome turf.

Photo source: hoyasmeg

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Drew Brees Celebrating the Saints Super Bowl Victory

The next stop on my 2010 NFL preview tour is the NFC South, the home of the defending NFL Champion New Orleans Saints.  What a story the Saints were in the 2009 NFL season and 2010 Super Bowl.  Will the magic continue? 

Division Winner

New Orleans Saints

Yes, I think it will.  The Saints just have too many weapons to be slowed down on offense for any period of time, especially with Drew Brees running the show.  They’ll also benefit from a second year of Gregg Williams on the defensive side.  This was a tough call because it’s clear that the Saints will get everybody’s best shot and the Falcons will be making a push to claim the division.  But, ultimately I think the Saints will hold the Falcons off and claim the NFC South title.

MVP

Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

The best player in the division is not always the MVP, but this year that will happen in the NFC South.  Brees loves to carve up defenses with precision and does not favor any receiver over another.  He threw for 34 touchdowns in 2009 with only 11 interceptions.  I expect a similar performance in 2010.

Most Important Player

Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons

For Atlanta to contend for a division title they will need a healthy Turner for the full season.  After running for 1,699 yards in 2008, he had just more than half of that (871) in 2009 while missing five full games and parts of three other games.  Word is that Turner spent most of the off season in the Falcons’ gym, determined not to let that happen again.

Offensive Player of the Year

Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

For most divisions I will not pick the same player for both MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.  In the NFC South Brees is just that good.

Defensive Player of the Year

Will Smith, DE, New Orleans Saints

Smith had an excellent 2009 season, sacking the quarterback 13 times.  How can he top that?  With a better season in 2010.  The addition of Alex Brown and emergence of Sedrick Ellis will lead to a much improved Saints defensive line and more room for Smith to operate.

Top Newcomer

Dunta Robinson, CB, Atlanta Falcons

Robinson is a huge addition to a Falcons defense that struggled mightily against the pass in 2009.  They were 28th in the NFL.  Robinson’s ability to hold the opposing team’s top receiver in check should open up the opportunity for Atlanta to pick up more “coverage” sacks in 2010.  They were tied for 26th in the league last year with 28 sacks.

Top Rookie

Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Atlanta Falcons

Another big addition to the Falcons defense, Weatherspoon should sure up the linebacker position in a likely transition from Mike Peterson.  I also considered Gerald McCoy here but I think the lack of talent around him will inhibit his ability to make an impact.

Most Improved

Dan Connor, LB, Carolina Panthers

Connor will get his chance to shine in 2010 and I expect him to take advantage of it.  With Jon Beason moving over to the weakside Connor will take over the middle linebacker position on the Panthers defense after serving as a backup in his first two years in the NFL.

Most Pressure

Raheem Morris, Head Coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After firing his offensive coordinator deep into the preseason and firing his defensive coordinator deep into the regular season many were doubting the ability of Morris to serve as an NFL head coach.  He seems to have stabilized the franchise at this point but any odd shenanigans that occur during the 2010 season could lead to his departure.

Biggest Loss

Scott Fujita, LB, New Orleans Saints

Fujita was a passionate player and a defensive leader for the Saints.  He left for Cleveland as a free agent.  New Orleans appears to have a number of candidates to replace Fujita all of who are unproven.

Who do you like in the NFC South?  Let me know in the comments below.

Photo source: IAN RANSLEY DESIGN + ILLUSTRATION

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