I saw an article the other day mentioning a purported curse of the American Bowl, in which most teams that have participated in that event in recent years have struggled in those seasons (similar to the Madden curse).
I did some research, and it's true that it doesn't bode well for either the Falcons or Colts that they are participating in this game.
In the last 4 American Bowls (2000-03), none of the partcipants have had a better season than their previous year. All teams lost more games in that season compared to the previous year, excluding 1: Cowboys in 2001, who went 5-11 after going 5-11 in 2000.
On average, the teams that have played in the American Bowl in that span have lost 2.1 more games the next year (1.75 for the winners, 2.5 for the losers). Each of the 4 losing teams have all been playoff teams, including one that went to the Conference Championship game the previous year (Oakland in 2001). The Bucs are the only playoff team to win the game in that span, winning in 2003 after of course they won the SUper Bowl the previous season.
Of the 5 playoff teams that have participated in the game since 2000 (2003: TB & NYJ, 2002: SF, 2001: OAK, 2000: DAL), only 2 of those teams went back to the playoffs: 49ers and Raiders.
Of course, all these stats don't prove the Falcons won't go to the playoffs this year, but I guess you conclude that being in the American Bowl doesn't really help. I'm attributing it to the travel so early in training camp. The team will be on a plane for 15 or so hours within the first 2 weeks of camp opening, so it's extra wear and tear on the body that other teams don't go through. We are after all playing in 5 games this preseason.
If I'm Mora, Vick doesn't play a down in this game. And if it were really up to me, he probably wouldn't even make the trip. He, along with some of the other key starters (Alge, Brooking, Coleman, Kerney, and Bryan Scott). But of course, keeping them from going to Japan is unlikely.
But Mora is definitely going have to do a good job "saving" our players, since we have an extra preseason contest. Vick would maybe play a combined total of a series over the first two games, and most of my other starters, except for at the positions that are up in the air (Flanker, Left Guard) would probably not play much more. In both games, it would really be a chance for some of the question 2nd and 3rd stringers to get a chance to shine. So that is probably the only positive out of having 5 preseason games: getting to see more of the "camp bodies" than you would in a normal preseason schedule.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.