Fresh off watching the Saints dismantle the Cowboys, I’m a lot more confident about the Falcons chances to win next week. After two shaky wins versus the lowly Buccaneers and Redskins, it’s nice for the Falcons to have built some momentum heading into this week. But considering the opponents and the fact that the offense has had struggles over the past 6 weeks putting points on the board, it’s not a ton of momentum.
The Cowboys have averaged 24.2 points a game the past six weeks, while the Falcons have averaged 15.2 points. The Falcons need to escape this offensive funk they’ve been in recently, and start putting some points on the board. Hopefully the Saints putting up 42 on the Cowboys won’t be the exception and will be a trend, one that the Falcons can hopefully follow this upcoming week.
One stat that leans in the Falcons favor this year is the overall success of teams in short weeks. Coming off a win, teams in short weeks are 12-7, while coming off a loss they are 4-12. Also helping is the Falcons are at home. When teams have a short week, and are coming off a road win and playing at home, they are 4-2 this season. Alternatively, things bode poorly for the Cowboys. For a team coming off a home loss and playing on the road in a short week, this year teams have combined for a 1-5 record.
A thing that worries me about this matchup is the Cowboys passing game. The Saints effectively contained Tony Romo tonight, and he made some poor throws bringing up concerns on whether of not Romo is comfortable as a pocket passer. Not to mention, the Saints did an excellent job of locking down T.O. and Glenn with their “over the hill” corners in Fred Thomas and Mike McKenzie. Well, they didn’t look too old tonight. Hopefully the Falcons can follow this template. It helps that Abraham is healthy, and seemingly Mallard and Carrington are getting better each week. I’m not sure if Webster will be back for this one. I’m assuming he will be. But I have the feeling that we won’t be able to see a battle of T.O. vs. D-Lo Round 2 this year. Hall plays almost exclusively on the strongside, and T.O. lines up most of the time on the weakside. Which means he’ll have the opportunity to wreak havoc on a rusty Webster, a green Jimmy Williams, and an undersized Allen Rossum. Williams played well vs. the Bucs in really what amounts to his first extensive action on defense of the year, and Rossum has played better than I think anybody could have hoped over the past 3 or so weeks, but does that mean they are ready for Terrell Owens?
I’m hopeful that the T.O.-Irvin interview that aired on ESPN earlier today will get the Cowboy media up in a frenzy and create a distraction for that team in this short week. Making them focusing more on the behind the scenes drama, rather than focusing on making the proper adjustments to beat a seemingly unexceptional Falcon team.
Even if the Falcons beat the Cowboys, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to get back on the bandwagon. Sure, the Cowboys are probably the best and most complete team we’ve faced all year long, and beating them we are perhaps beating the NFC’s rep for the Super Bowl. But this is exactly the Falcons M.O. Win a game that few expect them to win, and lose games that few expect them to lose. Beating the Cowboys would automatically make most believe the Falcons can get 2 wins against Carolina and Philly. I really can’t make a statement of where I am in terms of on or off the wagon until the regular season’s over. Of course, at that point it may be too late.
And on an aside, kudos to the Saints who are now 9-4 and have the second seed in the NFC. Nobody has really given the Saints a lot of credit this year, viewing them merely as a nice PR piece and Cinderella story rather than a legitimate contender. But they beat the Cowboys in Dallas, a team that most were calling the favorites to win the NFC in the week leading up to it. The Saints have the league’s best offense, and assuming that Brees doesn’t turn the ball over like he’s done in recent weeks, and their defense plays more like this than they did against the Bengals a few weeks ago, they truly are a team to be reckoned with in the NFC. Now, I’m sure there are plenty of Falcon fans that are still in denial about the Saints. They beat a team that many believed to be the class of the NFC on a national stage, the sort of “statement games” that have been sorely lacking from the Falcons own resume this year. I wouldn’t call the Saints a great football team, but neither were last year’s Super Bowl champions. That was a Steeler team that got hot at the beginning of December and carried it through February.
I guess I’ve got more feet on the Saints bandwagon than I do the Falcons. Which is sad, but if the Falcons had merely beaten the Browns, I wouldn’t be standing where I’m standing now. In my mind, that Browns loss was every bit as disheartening as the Packers loss a year ago.