Matt Ryan throws for 300 yards and 3 TDs in a win over the Bucs
I may be the only one left on the Matt Ryan fan bus, but Ryan has been a terrific quarterback for the majority of his career. He was dreadful in the redzone last year, finished second in the NFL in interceptions and had the worst TD/interception ration of his career. It was not pretty, but aside from the turnovers he did throw for over 4,500 yards again and has a completion percentage of 66.3%, good for sixth in the NFL. Ryan and the Falcons have spent the whole season focusing on turnovers, and Quinn has said Ryan has done an amazing job at keeping the ball away from opponents in practice. We will not know until Sunday, but I think Ryan comes out with something to prove with new weapons and, of course, Julio Jones. Ryan is also 8-0 in his career in home openers and has thrown 19 TDs while only throwing 4 interceptions in those contests.
Tevin Coleman leads the team in rushing
I thought Coleman was going to be the man last year in the Falcons backfield. He began the season receiving the majority of the carries, but an injury along with his own ball security issues cost him reps. Devonta Freeman’s explosion onto the scene also did not help Coleman’s playing time. Freeman proved to be one of the best dual-threat running backs in the game, but struggled running the ball in the second half of the season. While Freeman’s receiving ability makes him extremely valuable, Coleman might actually be the better runner. He has explosive speed and his due for his first huge play in the NFL. Coleman’s second season gets off to a lot better start on Sunday while leading the Falcons in rushing.
Defensive line comes up huge, records three sacks
Do you believe in miracles? Atlanta’s pass rushing issues did not get any better in 2015, even with the additions of Dan Quinn and Vic Beasley. Atlanta finished last in sacks last year, failing to record 20. Atlanta has to get better at rushing the passer if they really have Super Bowl aspirations. They opted not to go with a pass rusher in the draft, but did add some depth across the line. Dwight Freeney is the most intriguing. He recorded a team-high 8.0 sacks in just 11 games for the Cardinals. Freeney is on his last legs and will purely be a third-down specialist for the Falcons, but when he is out there he has proven to still be a deadly pass rusher. The Falcons also added Derrick Shelby, and Vic Beasley should progress in year two, but all these improvements still will not be enough to fix the problem. Atlanta will likely have pass rushing issues again this year, but on opening day, I am counting on a little magic. They will get to Winston three times.