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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 45 “Something’s Gotta Give”

November 1st, 2013 Comments off

Allen and I recap the Falcons disappointing loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8, considering it one of the most disheartening losses for the Falcons in years. We also discuss the sense of complacency that seems to surround the Falcons franchise over the years, and this current regime in particular. Other topics: Steven Jackson and the historically bad Falcons running game; Sam Baker vs. Duane Brown; Darius Johnson’s future; Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford headline a stronger 2013 draft class. We then switch focus to the Falcons upcoming matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 9 and look at: the formidable matchup between the Falcons offensive line and the Panthers front seven; break down Cam Newton’s strengths and weaknesses; and whether the Falcons need to be more aggressive on both sides of the ball to get the win.

Ep. 45: Something’s Gotta Give [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 4 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 – Thursday Night Week 9

October 31st, 2013 Comments off
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Miami’s offense is so bad it makes Dalton appear to have a soul

It’s Halloween and this should be a night I enjoy not because of costumes and candy, but because last week I did well on my picks. I went 7-6 against the spread and 10-3 straight up. Looking back, I have no idea why I picked the Steelers because the Raiders always beat them. And I’m officially off the Philadelphia Eagles bandwagon. They are about to be in Jacksonville status where I will refuse to pick them every week regardless of the matchup.

Overall my record this year is 77-43 straight up and 57-63 against the spread.

Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) at Miami Dolphins (3-4)
Thursday, October 31 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Dolphins (+2.5)

This matchup gives me a bit of pause. The Bengals have played relatively well these past few weeks with Andy Dalton having a solid outing last Sunday. That likely means that Dalton is due to lay an egg this week. I think Miami’s defense is good enough to keep Dalton in check. Especially since Andrew Whitworth hasn’t practiced all week, and Cameron Wake is the healthiest he’s been in six weeks. Brent Grimes should be matched up frequently with A.J. Green, which should also be a boon for the Dolphins defense rather than Nolan Carroll facing him.

The problem of course is the Dolphins offense stinks. They got off to a fast start against New England last week, but that was thanks in large part to an erratic Brady and an early interception. There was absolutely no vertical element to their offense, thanks in part to the fact that there is no trust in the pass protection in front of Ryan Tannehill. And now they are facing a very formidable Bengals front, which will feature times where we’ll see John Jerry blocking (or not) Geno Atkins. That is not a good recipe for success for the Dolphins, and thus in good conscience I cannot pick them.

The one thing I like for the Dolphins offense is the fact that the injury to Leon Hall has forced the Bengals to move Adam Jones to the outside and they are platooning Dre Kirkpatrick and Chris Crocker in the slot at nickel cornerback. That means that if Miami’s passing attack is going to be able to overcome Cincinnati’s defense, it will rest largely on Rishard Matthews, who could be a big target over the middle.

Spread Pick: Bengals
Straight Pick: Bengals

Categories: Features Tags: ,

Pudge’s Picks – Week 8

October 26th, 2013 1 comment

For some silly reason, I feel good about this week’s picks. I’ve had previously good feelings in weeks where I bombed, but I feel a little bit of momentum with a relatively solid week of picking last week.

Atlanta Falcons (2-4) at Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
Sunday, October 27 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Cardinals (-2.5)

This is a must-win for the Falcons in the sense that this is their most winnable game for the remainder of the season, with possible exception to their Week 11 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cardinals have a very good defense that should be able to keep the Falcons offense in check for most of the game, but they have a very poor offense that even the Falcons lowly defense should be able to overcome. I believe the Falcons defense will have another solid performance this week and win a squeaker on the road that will likely come down to the final drive. Matt Bryant better be ready.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

Dallas Cowboys (4-3) at Detroit Lions (4-3)
Sunday, October 27 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Lions (-2.5)

The reason why you probably like the Cowboys in this game is because their secondary is better equipped to match up against Calvin Johnson than the Lions secondary is to go against Dez Bryant. But I think I like the Lions because I believe they will have more balance to their offense. I know, I don’t think the words “balance” and “Lions” have been used in the same sentence in the past four years. And I also like Detroit’s pass rush more to create some mistakes by Tony Romo, who is prone to do so on the road. Matt Stafford is quietly a solid year, so I like Detroit in a close one at home.

Spread Pick: Lions
Straight Pick: Lions

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Categories: Features Tags: ,

Three Keys to a Falcons Victory in Week 8

October 26th, 2013 1 comment
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Tony Gonzalez

Here’s a look at three keys to victory in order for the Atlanta Falcons to defeat the Arizona Cardinals in their Week 8 road matchup.

Pressure Leads to Turnovers

The Falcons defensive line is coming off its strongest performance of the season, effectively able to control the line of scrimmage last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They got plenty of pressure on Mike Glennon and doing such were able to create an early turnover that led to seven points.

They will have to do much of the same this week against the Cardinals. Carson Palmer has thrown two or more interceptions in each of his last five games, and the Falcons will hope to make it six in a row. The Cardinals defense is one tough nut to crack, and given the Falcons injuries on offense, it will make it even tougher. Creating multiple turnovers can create additional opportunities for the offense to put points on the board.

The best way to create turnovers is to get pressure on the quarterback. That leads to rushed and errant throws, which defenders in the Falcons secondary can capitalize on to make big plays.

The Falcons should see favorable matchups against one of the league’s weakest offensive line. Osi Umenyiora has historically preyed on weak tackles, which the Cardinals sport in left tackle Bradley Sowell. Injury to left guard Daryn Colledge could also lead to backup Nate Potter starting, and the Cardinals also have a weakness at the other guard spot with Paul Fanaika being unexceptional.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 44 “Tampa Bay is a Dumpster Fire”

October 25th, 2013 Comments off

Allen and I are joined once again by Rashad James, making his second consecutive appearance on the podcast to discuss the Atlanta Falcons win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7. We discuss some of the standout players from the game including William Moore, Malliciah Goodman, Harry Douglas, and Desmond Trufant. We also take a look at the play of the Falcons young linebackers and whether or not they have what it takes to turn into good NFL linebackers. In their preview of Week 8, we discuss how much impact a healthy Steven Jackson can bring, whether or not there needs to be changes made at punt returner, how the Falcons left tackle matches up with John Abraham, and whether the Falcons defense can take advantage of Arizona’s lackluster offensive attack.

Ep. 44: Tampa Bay is a Dumpster Fire [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 1 minute

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

Rashad can be found on twitter: @SaucedUp_Boss

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 – Thursday Night Week 8

October 24th, 2013 Comments off

It was a bit of a better week picking games in Week 7 for me. I finished 10-5 straight upup, while going 7-8 against the spread. The Colts win over the Broncos was the big shocker from last week. Obviously there were several outcomes that I wouldn’t have predicted, but nothing that came out of left field.

My season totals stand at 67-40 straight up and 50-57 against the spread.

There’s been talking recently about the possibility of a Thursday Night doubleheader. I’d honestly be in a favor of it. Frankly I’d also be in a favor of a Sunday night doubleheader, assuming they started the games relatively early. Like say around 6 Eastern. If a West Coast team is hosting, it will always be the late game. I just don’t want to be up to 1 am watching games. It’s fun every once in a while but would get taxing if it happened every week.

I’m thinking many of these new schedule changes are eventually going to come so that the NFL season is longer, not necessarily in terms of number of games (18 games seems a decade or more away), but in length of time the season covers. I don’t think we’re that far from seeing the double bye week, and wouldn’t be shocked to eventually see a triple bye week. After all, if the goal is truly to make the game safer, giving players more rest makes sense. And I’m sure the networks wouldn’t be upset over having an NFL-dominated programming block over 23 weeks instead of 20.

Carolina Panthers (3-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6)
Thursday, October 24 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network

Line: Bucs (+6.5)

The Panthers have dominated bad teams this year, beating the Giants, Vikings, and Rams by an average of 26 points. But they did lose to the Cardinals on the road, and with a Ron Rivera-coached team and Cam Newton-led team, there is always the potential for a letdown. But the Bucs were so bad last week vs. the Falcons and looked to be on the verge of quitting on Greg Schiano. Having a short week is usually a bad recipe for success in such a situation.

Arizona beat Carolina with tough defense and pressuring Newton. Patrick Peterson locked down Steve Smith, and if Revis can do the same, they got a shot. Losing Martin is huge but may not be that big a deal this week since they were unlikely to run the ball well against Carolina’s front anyway. So they will hope Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams can exploit the Panthers secondary and keep it close. With a couple of Newton turnovers, and there’s a chance Tampa gets their first win.

Spread Pick: Panthers
Straight Pick: Panthers

Categories: Features Tags: ,

Takeaways from Week 7

October 21st, 2013 1 comment
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Holmes could be a major difference maker next week

The Atlanta Falcons won on Sunday. While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t exactly the stiffest competition in the world, the fact remains that the Falcons won. It seems like it’s been forever since the Falcons won a game.

It’s been five weeks since one of these takeaways columns followed a Falcons win. Such a winless drought hasn’t happened under Mike Smith. And while five-plus years of Mike Smith is small relative to a lifetime, particularly when you’ve been following the Falcons for over two decades like myself, it seems to be forever ago when the Falcons were bad enough where losing three straight games was common.

The hope is that this win against the Bucs is a sign of that things are going back to how they used to be under Smith. It’s certainly easier to be more confident following a win, although I’m not sure what we’ll see in the coming weeks. We’ve really reached the point where you honestly have to take it week by week with this Falcon team. And despite a win on Sunday, the Falcons 2013 season remains on life support. They go on the road against the Arizona Cardinals next week in another winnable game. But with the way the Falcons have played thus far this year, it’s by no means a guaranteed win.

In previous years, you could always count on the Falcons finding a way to win, even if they don’t play their best football. One only has to look at last year’s win over the Cardinals to see exactly that. Matt Ryan threw five interceptions, but thanks to the ineptitude of the opposing quarterbacks John Skelton and Ryan Lindley, who combined for a pathetic 70 passing yards, the Falcons won.

While new Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer isn’t having a great season thus far, he’s certainly more than capable of topping 70 yards should the need arise. And the Cardinals defense hasn’t really dropped off that much from a unit that was among the best in the league a year ago.

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Categories: Features Tags: , , , ,

Pudge’s Picks – Week 7

October 19th, 2013 Comments off

Another week of picking games, and hopefully a better week of picking games. Apparently my success in picking games last year was a fluke because I just can’t get right this year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5) at Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
Sunday, October 20 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Falcons (-7.5)

Obviously the line makers do not think highly of the Bucs. Understandably, because the Bucs offense has been nearly as bad as how good their defense has been this year. But this is not a great matchup for the Falcons, as their offense will probably also struggle to score against that Bucs defense. And thus the onus is on the Falcons defense to play well, which really hasn’t occurred  the past few weeks. I think the Falcons win at home,  but in a closer game than this line indicates it should be.

Spread Pick: Bucs
Straight Pick: Falcons

Chicago Bears (4-2) at Washington Redskins (1-4)
Sunday, October 20 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Redskins (-1.5)

The key to slowing down the Redskins is stopping hte run, something Chicago didn’t do last week against the Giants. Brandon Jacobs had over 100 yards rushing against a diminished Bears front. Rookie Jon Bostic will be making his first career start at middle linebacker and thus that’s not a recipe for success for the Bears, although I think Bostic will be fine. The bigger question is going to be whether the Redskins defense can stop the Bears offense. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery against one of the league’s weakest secondaries is not a recipe for success. The Redskins have played better in recent weeks, and that might be enough to get the win at home.

Spread Pick: Redskins
Straight Pick: Redskins

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Categories: Features Tags: ,

How the Falcons Defense Matches Up Against the Bucs Offense

October 19th, 2013 Comments off
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons must slow down Doug Martin

The Atlanta Falcons offense isn’t in a favorable matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense on this weekend’s Week 7 NFC South divisional matchup. Thus the Falcons may need their defense to step up and tip the scales in their favor.

The Falcons defense has struggled throughout this year, largely because their pass defense has given up a bunch of yards, big plays, and created very little turnovers. That will need to change this week, as the Falcons may need some turnovers to give their limited offense extra opportunities to score.

The Bucs top wideout is Vincent Jackson, and they will line him up all over their offense to create mismaches. He’s been effective in the slot, where he will draw the assignment of Robert McClain, who has struggled this year. If McClain is going to turn around his season and retain his spot in the lineup, he will need to bounce back this week.

The Falcons will also need Desmond Trufant and Asante Samuel to play well on the outside, and potentially create a couple of turnovers as well. Mike Williams is expected to work his way back into the lineup this week, and will likely get a lot of looks against Trufant, testing the rookie cornerback.

But the Bucs offense is heavily reliant on their rushing attack. The focus of the Falcons defense this week will be on stopping Doug Martin. They will get help in the form of guard Carl Nicks’ absence due to an infection in his foot. That will likely put Gabe Carimi or Ted Larsen as the starting left guard. Carimi is a good run blocker, but a questionable pass protector. Larsen is a more natural center, and lacks the strength to get push in the ground attack. The Falcons defensive tackles in Corey Peters and Jonathan Babineaux will try to exploit that weakness, regardless of who gets the start. Right guard Davin Joseph also hasn’t had the best season either, and thus the Falcons will need to control the line of scrimmage.

That will take pressure off the Falcons linebackers to have to make plays. The defense should get a boost from the return of middle linebacker Akeem Dent. While Dent has struggled in coverage this year, he’s been effective agains the run. That could make a difference, giving the Falcons the front necessary to slow down Martin.

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How the Falcons Offense Matches Up against the Bucs Defense

October 19th, 2013 Comments off
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Harry Douglas Will Need a Big Week 7

The desperate Atlanta Falcons take on the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a battle that will decide who resides in the basement of the NFC South division as the loser will reside in last place.

One of the bright spots for the Bucs this season has been their defense, which has played well despite their inability to win a game. The Falcons will be playing with a depleted offense this week, thanks to injuries to top wideouts in Julio Jones and Roddy White, as well as missing running back Steven Jackson for the fourth consecutive game. The Falcons are forced to dig deep in order to find a way to attack this Buccaneer defense.

How the Bucs decide to deploy their defense could really impact how the Falcons offense operates. The addition of cornerback Darrelle Revis has really enhanced a Bucs secondary that was among the worst in the league in 2012. The past two weeks Falcons opponents have opted to bracket and double Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez alongside Jones. Now with Jones out of the mix, it will mean Gonzalez will be the focus of the Falcons offense and opposing defense. The Bucs would be smart to try and have Revis shadow Gonzalez throughout the day whenever possible. But that will require the Bucs to ask to play Revis more inside. While Revis is capable, it will mean that the Bucs will have to make significant adjustments to their defense. If the Bucs choose to do that, a way the Falcons can attack him is by lining Gonzalez up as an inline tight end and trying to run directly at him. In the passing game, the Falcons can try to group their receivers in trips sets and try to create confusion in the Bucs secondary.

If not and the Bucs try a more traditional defense, it will feature a lot of using their safeties, Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson, against Gonzalez. The Bucs haven’t faced many top tight ends this year besides Jimmy Graham in Week 2. Graham proceeded to catch 10 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, leading the Saints receivers. If that is the case, it’s clear that Gonzalez has the ability to exploit that matchup favorably for the Falcons offensive attack.

If Revis is shadowing Gonzalez, then it will leave the Falcons other receivers on islands against the Bucs lesser defensive backs. Starting cornerback Johnthan Banks has had his ups and downs this year as a rookie. But he could match up favorably against a receiver like Harry Douglas, who will be the de facto No. 1 receiver for the Falcons. Douglas isn’t very big, and Banks has good size to be an effective press corner. If the Bucs opt to employ Banks to try and press Douglas on the outside, then it will be hard for sixth-year wideout to get off the line of scrimmage and be effective. The Falcons could mitigate that some by putting Douglas mostly in the slot away from Banks, and against the smaller, less physical Leonard Johnson, the Bucs’ normal slot corner. If Revis is freed up from shadowing Gonzalez, then Douglas will be hard-pressed to get open against one of the league’s premier cornerbacks. The Falcons will try and find ways to feature Douglas with most of the defensive attention going towards Gonzalez. Douglas is at his best on shorter, quicker routes that are designed to get him in space and make us of his speed and explosiveness after the catch. The Falcons may try some screens with Douglas and shallow crossing patterns to try and feature this ability.

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