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Posts Tagged ‘preview’

Five Falcon Players to Watch Tonight vs. Texans

August 16th, 2014 No comments

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Baker

Unlike last week where the focus was on several young players trying to carve out roles with the team, this week’s Atlanta Falcons players to keep eyes on are mostly established veterans. That is because the Falcons starters will likely play at least the entire first quarter tonight against the Houston Texans. It will be their most extensive action thus far and should be more informative about whether or not certain roster positions and players are ready to assume significant roles this season.

Sam Baker

Baker was arguably the team’s best blocker among their starting five against the Miami Dolphins last week, but will face a significant test against rookie edge-rusher Jadeveon Clowney on Saturday.

While Clowney is far from a proven playmaker in only his second NFL game, he does present a significant challenge for a player like Baker, who throughout his career has struggled against players with top-level speed and quickness off the line. That certainly can be said of Clowney even at this point in his career, and it will be notable if Baker can perform well against him in this game. He had a good two days of practice against Clowney this past week, and we’ll have to see if that carries over into the game tonight.

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Five Falcon Players to Watch Tonight vs. Dolphins

August 8th, 2014 No comments

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Devonta Freeman

All five of these Atlanta Falcons players are in a position to have some standout performances on Friday night in the team’s preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins.

Devonta Freeman

With Steven Jackson out of the lineup, Freeman is likely to get most of the work tonight against the Dolphins. While he may not wind up being the starter, we should see him get work early with the first-team offense. The two areas where Freeman will need to show the most tonight is running the football and pass protection. Toting the rock isn’t a huge challenge for Freeman, but he’ll have to show a few extra things such as the ability to get reliable yards after contact if he doesn’t want to be simply a change-of-pace runner this season. Freeman was a capable pass protector during his collegiate days, but that was then, this is now. He’ll have to show that he can handle the size and strength of NFL defensive linemen, linebackers and other blitzers if he’s going to be trusted to garner serious reps on third down this year. It’s overall, a big potential debut for Freeman. There’s no doubt that Freeman will have some role with the Falcons runners this year, but how big a role that is will be partially determined by how he fares tonight.

Bernard Reedy

There has been a lot of hype surrounding Reedy since his first arrival in Atlanta as an undrafted free agent in May. He’s not the first undrafted rookie wide receiver to receive a great deal of hype as a playmaker in the lead-up to actual games being played. Martel Moore was the superstar of last summer. But Moore did not distinguish himself at all in any of the preseason games despite receiving rave reviews almost every day in practice. Reedy cannot go down that same path.

Reedy has explosive speed and needs to display that tonight after the catch. He should also get a few opportunities as a return man, which should also help his cause. He’s a front-runner as a possible sixth wide receiver on this year’s roster and his preseason debut could help him a long way to earning that.

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Five Things to Expect in Falcons vs. Dolphins

August 8th, 2014 No comments

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Kemal Ishmael

Having done a smidgen of research by looking at last year’s trends in the Atlanta Falcons preseason opening loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, I have come up with five things that you can expect to see in this year’s opener against the Miami Dolphins.

1. Falcons Starters Will Not Play Much

Given the Falcons have only a handful of starting positions up for grabs, most of the team’s starters will be in limited action against the Dolphins. Last year, quarterback Matt Ryan and the starting offense played slightly more than a dozen snaps on the first three series. The defense was about the same.

Depending on how the Falcons perform on their first few series will likely determine if/when Mike Smith decides to pull the plug on them. If the offense marches down the field twice and scores touchdowns, then it’s likely Smith will be satisfied with that performance. But if they were to struggle on either drive, then expect Smith to give them a third to try and iron out the kinks. The same holds true for the defense.

While it’s possible that Smith could pull the starters after a single series, given the increased focus on “toughness” this summer, I suspect they’ll get at least two to try and show some.

It will be interesting to see which starters if any garner increased reps. Last year against the Cincinnati Bengals in the preseason opener, Lamar Holmes and Desmond Trufant were starters that earned extra reps with the second unit groups. If anybody likely gets similar treatment this year, it’s likely to be whoever lines up as the starting free safety, particularly if it’s an unproven player like Kemal Ishmael or Dezmen Southward.

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Pudge’s Picks – Super Bowl

February 1st, 2014 Comments off
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Peyton Manning cements his legacy on Sunday

Thus far in this playoffs, I’ve done a lot better picking games than I did in the regular season. I have correctly picked the winners in nine out of the 10 playoff games (curse those Eagles!), and are 7-2-1 when picking against the spread.

Here’s my pick for the final game of the 2014 season: Super Bowl XLVIII.

Seattle Seahawks (15-3) vs. Denver Broncos (15-3)
Sunday, February 2 at 6:25 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Broncos (-2.0)

I have been waffling back and forth for the past two weeks about who to take in this game. In the latest podcast, I picked the Seahawks but now I’m going away from that pick.

Initially, I felt that the Broncos were in for a rude awakening facing the Seahawks defense. Denver hasn’t really faced a defense like Seattle’s, and the last time they played a team with a similar scheme (Jacksonville), their offense was contained very effectively. But with more thought, the more I began to feel that Denver was the more complete team.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 56 “I’d Take Eugene Robinson at the Drop of a Hat!”

January 28th, 2014 Comments off

After a one-week hiatus, Allen and I are back to discuss the Atlanta Falcons team needs. We are joined by Matt Chambers, a writer for the Falcoholic, to rank the Top 6 needs the Falcons need to address this offseason. Later, we discuss some of the key matchups between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, as well as other pervasive topics around the league such as Richard Sherman’s rant, the resurgence of the NFC South in 2014, and my thoughts on whether Anthony Barr should be on the Falcons radar at the top of the draft. Warning: This episode contains some explicit NSFW language!

Episode 56: I’d Take Eugene Robinson at the Drop of a Hat! [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 25 minutes

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

Matt Chambers can be found on twitter: @FalconsM5, and also writes for The Falcoholic.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Pudge’s Picks – Conference Championship Weekend

January 18th, 2014 Comments off
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Tight end Julius Thomas could be a major difference maker for the Broncos

Picking winners in the playoffs is easier when compared to the regular season. Thanks to having teams that are bit more consistent at the things they do well, it’s easier to evaluate the matchups. It’s also easier since you have a much larger sample size of previous games to evaluate.

Due to that lessened hardship, I had a clean sweep last week with picking all the winners correctly, going 4-0. Did not however get all the spreads right as I went 3-0-1 due to the Seattle Seahawks winning by eight points and pushing. That brings my playoff total to 7-1 picking games straight up and 6-1-1 when picking against the spread.

Before the season in my predictions post, I tabbed the Seahawks to square off against the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. I initially picked the Broncos to win that game, although if that matchup does ultimately come to fruition, I’d probably switch allegiances at this point. For these picks because I had initially expected it, I’m going to pick that Bronco-Seahawk matchup to come true.

I’m personally excited by the potential that I nailed both Super Bowl teams, although I don’t think that particular matchup was that difficult to see coming. The Broncos were far and away the best team in the AFC going into the season. And I suspect most people that didn’t have loyalty to a particular NFC team (like my fellow Falcon fans) picked the team they figured would win the NFC West: Seattle or San Francisco.

But overall, I like the fact that this could make two years in a row in which I got at least one of the Super Bowl teams right. Last year, I correctly predicted the Baltimore Ravens to wind up in the Super Bowl before the season started.

But enough patting myself on the back, here are this weekend’s picks:

New England Patriots (13-4) at Denver Broncos (14-3)
Sunday, January 19 at 3 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Broncos (-5.5)

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 55 “2013 Awards Extravaganza!”

January 14th, 2014 1 comment

Allen and I get together once again to discuss our choices for various awards stemming from the Atlanta Falcons 2013 season. Included are our choices for the team’s most valuable player, offensive and defensive players of the year, most improved player, biggest disappointment, and most underrated and overrated players among several other individual honors. During the course of our discussion, I explain my hatred for Harry Douglas for the umpteenth time, and also where I rank Matt Ryan among the league’s top quarterbacks following his play in 2013. After divvying out our awards, we get into a discussion about the winners and losers from the second round of the playoffs, as well as our expectations for the upcoming conference championship games.

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 55 2013 Awards Extravaganza! [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 18 minutes

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

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Pudge’s Picks – Divisional Playoffs 2013

January 10th, 2014 Comments off
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Peyton Manning

With last week’s slate of playoff games, I went 3-1 both against the spread and straight up. It is so much easier picking playoff games, which probably jinxes me to go 1-3 this week.

This week’s games feature several heavy home favorites, although home-field advantage is relatively minor when two playoff teams square off. Since 2005, home teams are 48-36 in the playoffs, for a winning percentage that is about the same as when two eventual playing teams face off in the regular season, about one game above .500.

As usual, this week’s lines are taken from ESPN.com.

New Orleans Saints (11-5) at Seattle Seahawks (13-3)
Saturday, January 11 at 4:35 pm ET on FOX

Line: Seahawks (-8.0)

When the Saints travelled to Seattle in Week 13, they got ran off the field by the Seahawks by a score of 34-7. It was both their worst offensive and defensive performance of the year. A team that averaged over 400 yards of total offense in every other game in 2013, the Saints were limited by the Seahawks defense to just 188 total net yards that week. The Seahawks scored points on each of their first four drives in the first half, opening up a 27-7 lead at halftime and coasting for the remainder of the game.

I don’t expect a repeat of that performance, but I think the Seahawks defense matches up too well with the Saints offense. And while the Saints pass rush is solid, it’s not that fearsome group that has been known to give Russell Wilson problems. Also if the Saints can’t score early, the Seahawks will be able to lean on their rushing attack. In order for the Saints to win this one, Drew Brees and Sean Payton need to respectively play and coach the games of their lives. I don’t think they will, but I don’t think the Seahawks are going to blow out the Saints either.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Seahawks

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Pudge’s Picks – Wildcard Playoffs 2013

January 4th, 2014 Comments off
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

I won’t know what to do with myself if Andy Dalton actually plays well Sunday

Well, my late-season surge to get to .500 did not end as well as I had hoped. In Week 17, I went 5-11 against the spread which is a pretty pathetic way to end the year. My final record picking spread games this year was 123-133. Five games below .500, after a previous year where I was like 146-110. I sported a 161-95 record picking winners straight up after finishing 11-5 in Week 17.

If you listened to this week’s podcast, I already gave some picks for this weekend’s playoff games. But I’m going to have to switch one of them after thinking on it for a few more days.

* All lines are taken from ESPN.com.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
Saturday, January 4 at 4:35 pm ET on NBC

*Line: Colts (0.0)

The formula for beating the Chiefs isn’t that complicated. Get an early lead, and force them to marginalize their best weapon: Jamaal Charles, in favor of making them throw with Alex Smith. That’s exactly what the Colts did in their Week 16 win over the Chiefs in Kansas City. The Chiefs couldn’t convert third downs and turned the ball over a bunch also in that game. The Colts benefited from offensive tackle Branden Albert being out that game, but he’s expected to be back this week. So will outside linebacker Justin Houston, who’s absence has coincided with the lack of pressure from the formerly excellent Chiefs defense. But fellow pass rusher Tamba Hali might also be out, so Houston’s return may not be the huge boost the Chiefs need.

I want to believe in Andrew Luck and that the Colts have figured out their identity in the post-Reggie Wayne world. Griff Whalen and Da’Rick Rodgers have stepped up somewhat and they will need to play at high levels, along with Donald Brown and the Colts defense to get this first playoff win for Luck and Chuck Pagano. Tje Colts have consistently raised their game against tough opponents, while the Chiefs have not. The Colts are 4-2 against playoff teams this year, while the Chiefs are 1-5. That says it all.

Spread Pick: Colts
Straight Pick: Colts

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 53 “Harry Douglas Ruins Dreams”

December 31st, 2013 Comments off

Allen and I are joined by another Falcoholic contributor, the ever-optimistic Jeanna Thomas, to discuss the Atlanta Falcons last two games of the year against the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers in Weeks 16 and 17. Topics we hit include the battle between Steven Jackson and Donte Whitner, the problems that plague the offensive line, the refusal to play Antone Smith, and the outlook of some young players: Peter Konz, Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford. We also discuss how injury will affect the future of Corey Peters, as well as the possibility that the team’s good intentions sabotaged Tony Gonzalez’s final game. We end the show discussing some of the things we saw around the league in Week 17, as I gloat over Allen about the Eagles win over the Cowboys. We each give our predictions about which teams could emerge in the first round of the playoffs to make a legit run at the Super Bowl in February.

Episode53-Harry Douglas Ruins Dreams [Download]
Duration: 1 hour, 31 minutes

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

Jeanna writes for The Falcoholic and can be found on twitter: @jeannathomas.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt