Atlanta Falcons vs. Washington Redskins
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Prediction: Falcons, 38-20
The Redskins are coming off a couple of horrific seasons in which their starting quarterback has been injured. Robert Griffin III looks to be ready to go this season, but there is certainly no guarantee he will be the starter by Week 5. Like Atlanta, the Redskins’ pass defense has been brutal for the past few seasons. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones should be in for a huge Week 5 against the Redskins.
If Robert Griffin III is healthy and in rhythm by week 5, this game could go a lot differently. However, he has missed most of the last two seasons and he should not be expected to lead this team to the playoffs this year. The Falcons should handle the Redskins easily at home, 38-20.
New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Prediction: Saints, 27-24
Week 6 is the first match up between these two division rivals. The best two weeks of the regular season might be the two weeks the Falcons play the Saints, as the the atmosphere is wild and the games are always competitive. It is no secret the Saints have had the Falcons’ number since Hurricane Katrina, but perhaps last year was a sign of things to come. The Falcons defeated the Saints in a thrilling overtime game in Week 1, and then demolished the Saints in week 16, eliminating them from playoff contention.
The two wins last season will just add more fire to this already great rivalry. The Saints made a lot of big offseason moves this season. They sent superstar tight end Jimmy Graham to Seattle for Max Unger and a first-round pick. Unger should significantly upgrade the Saints offensive line, but the loss of Jimmy Graham will be felt. The Saints also head into the 2015 with a healthy and dangerous secondary. Brandon Browner, Kenny Vaccarro, and Jarius Byrd highlight a loaded secondary that could give Matt Ryan and company fits.
Many people are writing the Saints off this upcoming season, but as long as Drew Brees is under center they are a dangerous team. Sean Peyton is a great NFL head coach and play caller and the two of them have turned the New Orleans organization around. This will be the featured game for Thursday Night Football, and the New Orleans crowd will be nosier than ever for the Falcons. Expect an extremely tight and physical game, but the Saints prevail at the end, 27-24.
Tennesee Titans vs. Atlanta Falcons
Location: Nissan Stadium, Nashville
Prediction: Falcons, 24-16
Ken Whisenhunt says Marcus Mariota will be the opening day starter for the Titans. It is unclear if he will still be the starter by Week 7, but whoever is under center for the Titans could be in for a long day. The Falcons and Titans faced off in the first week of the preseason, and it was not a pretty day for Marcus Mariota. He finished the day 7-8 passing for 94 yards, but that one pass was an interception. The Oregon product also had the ball stripped from him and taken to the end zone against the Falcons first-team defense. The Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 lead against the Titans and the Falcons starting defense looked fast and vicious.
This game will take place in Nashville, and the Titans, as well as Marcus Mariota, will perform a lot better than they did in the first preseason game. Winning on the road in the NFL is hard, so expect this game to be close for a long time, but the Falcons will prevail, 24-16.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Prediction: Falcons, 35-17
Like Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston also struggled in his first stint in the preseason. He was 9 for 19 with an interception for the Buccaneers, but did rush for one touchdown. Winston looked uncomfortable all night against the Vikings, but it was the first preseason game and he has plenty of room to improve.
The Falcons took care of business last season against the division going 5-1. In their first meeting with the Buccaneers in the Georgia Dome, The Falcons obliterated the Bucs by a score of 56 to 14. It was an embarrassing night for the Buccaneers, and while it will not be that bad this time around, the Falcons will take care of business.