San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Location: Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco
Prediction: 49ers, 24-16
The Falcons make their first and only trip out west in Week 9 against the 49ers. The Niners are coming off a very disappointing 8-8 season after reaching three straight NFC Championships. The situation has only gotten worse for the 49ers this offseason. Head coach Jim Harbaugh and the team split ways. The anchor to their defense and one of the best linebackers in the NFL, Patrick Willis, abruptly retired at 30-years old. Veteran running back Frank Gore departed in free agency to the Colts. Then to make things even worse Aldon Smith was arrested for a hit and run/DUI. The 49ers opted to release the star defensive end. This was just half of the impact guys they lost. The cornerstones of the organization that once seemed on the cusp of winning a Super Bowl are no longer there. Jim Tomsula steps in as the new head coach assigned to rebuild this organization. He may be a great hire, but this will likely not be the year he and his team see great results.
The Falcons, now sitting at 6-2, might come out west a little overconfident. The 49ers might not be the best team this season, but they will still be solid and have some veterans that will fight week in and week out. It looks like a perfect recipe for disaster. The 49ers upset the Falcons and ruin their west coast road trip, 24-16.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Indianapolis Colts
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Prediction: Colts, 35-24
The Falcons will be hungry coming off a tough road loss and a bye week. The Colts are set to be one of the best teams on paper this upcoming season. Andrew Luck has proven himself to be an elite quarterback in the National Football League. He gets better every year, and if the Falcons’ defense is not on their toes at all times, Luck will make them pay. The Colts also added veteran receiver Andre Johnson to Luck’s arsenal. Johnson hasn’t been what he used to be, but he could be in for a resurgence now that he is catching balls from a terrific quarterback. Frank Gore has also been added to a group of underwhelming running backs. Gore is an aging veteran but has shown no signs of slowing down, as he has rushed over 250 carries for over 1,000 yards in each of the last 4 seasons.
The Falcons will be hyped for big time match-up at home versus a great Colts team, but how far can that take them? Atlanta will be a very solid team this year, but the Colts will be on another tier this upcoming season. Expect the Falcons to put up a valiant fight, but the Colts offense will outlast them at the end of the day. Colts, 35-24.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Minnesota Vikings
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Prediction: Falcons, 28-24
Coming off two straight losses, the Falcons will be looking to get back in the win column versus the Vikings. The Vikings have struggled without Adrian Peterson on the field, but Peterson will be fresh and ready to go this upcoming season. He is the best running back of this generation and will be in for a monster season. Expect Peterson to be challenging the rushing record once again this season. However, the return of Adrian Peterson is not the only thing Vikings fans have to look forward to this season. Teddy Bridgewater is penciled in as their starting quarterback of the future. He showed glimpses of greatness last year, especially against the Falcons. In their week 4 matchup, Bridgewater was 19/30 for 317 yards and rushed for a touchdown. The Falcons could not stop this guy, as he led the Vikings up and down the field on their way to a 41-28 victory.
The Vikings will be an interesting team to watch this season. Their defense is also overlooked and could be one of the better units in the NFL. Expect them to lean a lot on Peterson and find ways to win some games that they probably should not. The Falcons will be in for a dog fight in week 12, but they will find a way to prevail and get back into the win column against the Vikings, 28-24.