Archive for November, 2013

Falcons Set to Play Lions in Week 8 in London in 2014

November 28th, 2013 Comments off

Last month, the NFL announced that the Atlanta Falcons would play host to the Detroit Lions in a game played in London next season. Today, more detail about that upcoming matchup was released. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that the Falcons-Lions matchup will take place on Sunday, October 26 during Week 8 of the 2014 season. The game will be played in London’s Wembley Stadium, but will be considered one of the Falcons’ eight home games for the season.

It will mark Atlanta’s first trip to London in the NFL’s International Series, which has become an annual event since 2007. The Falcons have played abroad in the past, coming in 2000 and 2005 when they played preseason games in Tokyo, Japan, but this will mark their first regular season matchup. The Falcons-Lions game will be one of three games set in London next season, an expansion from this past season where two games were set there for the first time. It is very likely that the Falcons-Lion game will be followed by a bye week for each team, as has become the norm over the past few years with teams that play overseas.

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Pudge’s Picks – Thanksgiving Week 13

November 28th, 2013 Comments off

It’s going to be a wondrous Thanksgiving at least for me as I gorge myself on food and football.

It wasn’t quite as good for my picks last week, although I did manage to go 8-6 both against the spread and picking games straight up. While my spread picks have improved over the past few weeks, as I’ve finished above .500 in three of the past five weeks, I’ve also managed to have worse picks on straight picks in two of the past three weeks. There’s really no excuse to not be able to pick games straight up rather easily. I should be getting at least ten of those games right every week.

My year-to-date totals are: 86-90 against the spread, and 111-65 straight up.

Green Bay Packers (5-5-1) at Detroit Lions (6-5)
Thursday, November 26 at 12:30 pm ET on FOX

Line: Lions (-5.5)

The Lions are traditionally bad on Thanksgiving day, as they haven’t won a game since 2003. That is their lone win over their past 13 Thanksgiving day games, happening to come against the Green Bay Packers. But the problem is that they are 1-4 against the Packers on Thanksgiving over those 13 years. So it’s interesting that they are favored, which tells you a lot about the confidence in the Packers, now that Matt Flynn is starting and they are fresh off a tie with the lowly Minnesota Vikings. Matt Flynn has a history of looking competent against the Lions defense, with his famous six-touchdown game at the end of the 2011 season. The key for the Packers is slowing down Megatron, although their pass defense has been atrocious in recent weeks. They also need to get a big day from Eddie Lacy and the boys (doesn’t that sound like a ’50s rock band?) to prevail over the Lions. I don’t see it happening, although I do think these games are traditionally close.

Spread Pick: Packers
Straight Pick: Lions

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 49 “Harry Douglas, the Perfect Trade Bait”

November 27th, 2013 Comments off

On this week’s episode, Allen and I discuss the Atlanta Falcons Week 12 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football. This week’s recap topics include: 1-Struggles of William Moore and Sean Weatherspoon; 2-Possible replacements for Asante Samuel; 3-Offensive line and whether it’s stepping up or down; 4-Darius Johnson; 5-Lost confidence in management of the team and Dirk Koetter; 6-Mike Smith’s questionable fourth down call; 7-Concerns about Roddy White; 8-Harry Douglas and his value to the team going forward; Then we look ahead to the Falcons Week 13 contest against the Buffalo Bills and which matchups we don’t like, particularly with a focus on the fearsome Bills pass rush; Later we discuss Osi Umenyiora, Mario Williams, and give our score predictions on the Falcons-Bills game; As usual it’s followed by a detailed “Around the League” discussion in which division battles in the NFC East and NFC North are focused upon. This episode does contain some minor NSFW language!

Episode Ep. 49 Harry Douglas, the Perfect Trade Bait [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Allen writes for as well as the Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

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Falcons Promote Terren Jones to Roster; Waive Robiskie

November 26th, 2013 Comments off

Today, the Atlanta Falcons announced a pair of roster moves, including promoting offensive tackle Terren Jones from their practice squad to the active roster. The team also waived wide receiver Brian Robiskie.

Jones, an undrafted rookie out of Alabama State, initially made the team’s final 53-man active roster, but was released and added to the practice when the team signed Jeremy Trueblood in September prior to the season-opener. Jones had an occasionally up, but mostly down preseason.

Robiskie was added to the roster following the season-ending injury to wide receiver Julio Jones, and after playing in Week 7, he was inactive for the past five games.

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Falcons-Packers Flexed Out of Primetime

November 25th, 2013 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the upcoming matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers on December 8 will be moved to 1:00 pm ET from its previously scheduled time of 8:30 pm. Initially scheduled to be featured on NBC in primetime on Sunday Night Football, the network flexed its flex-scheduling powers to replace the game with the matchup featuring the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. The Falcons-Packers game will be aired on FOX instead.

Beginning in Week 11, NBC has the ability to modify their schedule to feature more prominent games in the second half of the season. They must notify teams 12 days in advance of the schedule change.

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Moneyball 2013 – Week 12 Review

November 25th, 2013 1 comment

This was a better performance by the Falcons offense as they looked much more comfortable and were more effective moving the ball.

The offense was still fairly vanilla, but there were instances where it did some things that they haven’t done a lot of in over the past four games. There were a couple of deeper pass attempts early in the game with two downfield throws in the second quarter, which isn’t much, but is two more than we’ve seen in recent weeks. But the Falcons game plan still centered largely on short and intermediate throws and trying to stem together longer drives, rather than seeking big plays down the field. This gameplan was helped by a more productive rushing attack headed by Steven Jackson.

Matt Ryan was better in this game, but still had a couple of missed opportunities. The most glaring one was at the end of the game with 2:34 left, where he took a sack with a congested pocket rather than trying to throw a deep pass to Drew Davis. Due to the muddied pocket, it was likely going to be an incomplete pass. But it would have been better than the sack, given that backed up the Falcons to 3rd-and-15 and forced Mike Smith to opt for the field goal two plays later, instead of possibly going for it on 4th-and-10.

The Saints were able to dial up the pressure in the second half of the game. In the first half, the Falcons gave up a sack, a pressure, and 3 hurries on 20 drop backs. Then in the second half on 24 drop backs, they gave up 3 sacks, 3 pressures, and 3 hurries. The right side of the line had the most troubles with Garrett Reynolds and Jeremy Trueblood looking overmatched. And it’s going to be interesting to see if the team makes changes there over the final month of the season. Peter Konz was better than Reynolds, but still struggled somewhat in his half of playing time.

Cameron Jordan hit the pass-rushing “cycle,” tallying a sack, pressure, hit, 1.5 hurries, and a pass deflection. Akiem Hicks also gave the group a lot of trouble. But there were also plenty of instances where John Jenkins, Junior Galette, and Tom Johnson were able to get pressure on Ryan. And that second-half pressure was one of the primary causes why the Falcons were shut out in the second half. Joe Hawley got some key blocks early in the game blocking downfield, an area where is a clear upgrade over Konz.

Roddy White was non-existent in this game, and he seems less effective than he was a decoy earlier in the season with a high-ankle sprain. Harry Douglas and Darius Johnson had good starts, making plays on those shorter throws. But Johnson obviously had two huge mistakes with a wide open drop on third down and his fumble at the end of the game.

Matt Ryan$12$1$0$0$0$0$13.00
Steven Jackson$0$8$1$0$0$0$9.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$5$0$0-$1$4.00
Antone Smith$0$3$0$0$1$0$4.00
Joe Hawley$0$0$0$3$0$0$3.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$0$3$0$0$0$3.00
Darius Johnson$0$0$3$1$0-$2$2.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$2-$0.5$0$0$1.50
Roddy White$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Lamar Holmes$0$0$0$0.5$0$0$0.50
Peter Konz$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00
Garrett Reynolds$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00
Jeremy Trueblood$0$0$0$0$0-$2-$2.00

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Takeaways from Week 12

November 25th, 2013 Comments off
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Dimitroff Will Face Greater Scrutiny in 2014

Last week, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank gave head coach Mike Smith a vote of confidence. That was followed up on Thursday, with further elaboration that Blank fully intends to bring Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff back for 2014. Then later on Thursday, the Falcons played their best game since Week 7.

Maybe, Blank should have backed Smith a month ago.

Blank indicated in Silver’s report that regardless of how the Falcons finish this year, the Terrible Twosome in Smith and Dimitroff will be back. I guess that nips my belief that if the Falcons were to finish 2-14 or 3-13 that Smith would be fired. Although never say never. The Falcons could revert back to getting blown out for the final five games, and I think Blank would have to strongly consider making a change.

But truth be told, I don’t want the Falcons to blow things up. Or at least, I don’t want to feel like the Falcons have to blow things up.

What is most concerning about Blank’s comments is that it may lead to this team not making major changes to their “process.”

For the most part over the years, I have backed the so-called “process.” But the problem with the Falcons process is that it represents very little progress.

Complacency, more so than Injuries are Falcons Downfall

The story of this season will center on injuries and complacency. This team has obviously suffered a number of injuries which have limited their ability to field a competitive team. My personal opinion is that the amount of injuries doesn’t explain how uncompetitive this team has been since the bye week, but I’m sure that is going to be what the Falcons chalk their struggles up to this off-season.

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Pudge’s Picks – Week 12

November 24th, 2013 2 comments

I changed the way I picked games against the spread this week, which I think more closely mirrors how I picked games successfully in the past. Why it took me this long to do that, who knows? But if it results in a better week, then that’s how I’ll try to pick down the stretch so that I can try and finish this season above .500 against the spread.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

I’m expecting a big day for Alshon Jeffery for the Bears and my fantasy team this week

Chicago Bears (6-4) at St. Louis Rams (4-6)
Sunday, November 24 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Rams (-1.5)

It’s rather simple, I have more confidence in Josh McCown than Kellen Clemens. Plus an injury to Cortland Finnegan (who is doubtful) makes me believe that Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are in for big days as they face Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. The only thing that gives me some pause is the Rams edge pass rush, as I have little confidence that Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills will handle themselves well against Robert Quinn and Chris Long, respectively. But I think McCown finds a way in the end.

Spread Pick: Bears
Straight Pick: Bears

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-6)
Sunday, November 24 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Browns (-2.5)

The “real” Jason Campbell showed up last week, with his penchant for checkdowns and not throwing deep. If Campbell continues to play that well, and I expect he will, then I just don’t see how the Browns can be expected to beat a decent Steeler team at home.

Spread Pick: Steelers
Straight Pick: Steelers

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Falcons Lose Close One to Saints

November 22nd, 2013 Comments off
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Bryant is disappointed after missing a 52-yard field goal late vs. Saints

The Atlanta Falcons showed a little signs of life, going the distance with the New Orleans Saints in a 17-13 loss. Despite now sporting a 2-9 record, the Falcons were able to hang with the rival Saints (now 9-2) and had opportunities to win the game late. It is a stark change from recent performances which have seen the Falcons get beat by at least two scores in four straight games.

Matt Ryan had an improved performance, completing 30 of 39 passes for 292 yards, but was held without a touchdown for the first time in 16 games. Steven Jackson scored the Falcons’ lone touchdown, leading the team with 16 carries for 63 yards on the ground. Harry Douglas led receivers with 9 catches for 79 yards. Darius Johnson (6 catches, 67 yards), Tony Gonzalez (4 catches, 43 yards), and Jackson (3 catches, 16 yards) had notable contributions in the passing game as well. Roddy White was held in check for the most part, catching just a pair of passes for 24 yards. Matt Bryant connected on two field goals from 39 and 24 yards out, but missed a 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. The kicked sailed wide left, giving the Saints the ball back and a chance to seal the game with their four-point lead. Matt Bosher punted 3 times for an average of 45.3 yards, with 1 punt placed inside the 20-yard line. Robert McClain returned one punt for 10 yards. The Falcons third down offense improved this week, as they were able to convert on half of their 12 attempts. They were also able to score touchdowns on one of two red zone trips.

Defensively, the Falcons held the Saints to their second-lowest scoring output of the season. They gave up 374 total yards, including 103 on the ground. They were unable to provide adequate pressure, totaling only a single sack on Drew Brees, and struggled to get off the field on third downs. The Saints were successful at converting 54-percent of their 13 third down attempts. Paul Worrilow led the team in tackles for the fourth-consecutive week, tallying 9 stops on the night. Jonathan Babineaux (4 tackles); Joplo Bartu (7 tackles); Thomas DeCoud (7 tackles, 1 pass defended); Peria Jerry (3 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack); Robert McClain (5 tackles); William Moore (5 tackles); Desmond Trufant (5 tackles, 3 passes defended); and Sean Weatherspoon (4 tackles) had notable performances.

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Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 12: Falcons vs. Saints

November 21st, 2013 1 comment

Last week, once again I hovered around .500 with my picks. But just slightly below as I went 7-8 against the spread. Thanks once again to the Lions not being a very good road team, the surprisingly competent performance of Matt McGloin, Seattle looking like Seattle again, and Jason Campbell being Jason Campbell.

Straight up, my picks were slightly better at 10-5. Carolina beating New England was a mild surprise, although a controversial call at the end sealed the win. Looked to me like a missed call, but it was compounded by the referees cowardly fleeing the stadium. I hate when that happens, and there’s a call at the end of the game, and the refs appear afraid to go against the home crowd. It’s always evidenced by their desire to get out of the stadium as quickly as possible, which they proceeded to do in Charlotte.

New Orleans Saints (8-2) at Atlanta Falcons (2-8)
Thursday, November 21 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Falcons (+8.5)

Based off how the Falcons have played in recent weeks, this line should be a lot higher. My expectation is that the Falcons get beat by at least three scores in this game, so there’s really no reason to even think about picking the Falcons.

My only hope as a fan of the Falcons is that this is the week they are energized by the rivalry aspect, with the Saints somewhat beat up, they are able to keep it close. But if the Falcons were poised to be that team tonight, I think we would’ve seen some flashes of that in the past few games. The main hope for the Falcons is that Mike Nolan has some schemes up his sleeve that can confuse Drew Brees like he did a year ago, and Roddy White is for the first time this season, the Roddy of old and ready to abuse Corey White and Keenan Lewis.

Stranger things have happened in the NFL, and who knows the Falcons could pull the upset and win. If they do, it will go up on the pantheon of greatest wins ever by this team.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Saints

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