Football season is right around the corner and the Atlanta Falcons look to be the NFC South favorites heading into the season. The 2015 schedule pans out really nicely for the Falcons and should allow the Falcons a golden opportunity to get back in the playoffs for the first time since coming just short of the Super Bowl in 2012. These three match ups are from outside of the division that all football fans should tune in to.
Atlanta Falcons vs Philadelphia Eagles
With all the craziness surrounding the Eagles organization, how can one not be intrigued when they come into town? Chip Kelly took over as the head coach for the Eagles in 2013 and impressed even the critics. He got the Eagles back on top of the NFC East and into the playoffs in his first year as the head coach with a 10-6 record. The former Oregon coach had delivered and with him came an aura of excitement. However, the Eagles seemingly fell apart in 2014. After jumping out to a 9-3 start, the Eagles lost 3 of their last 4 to eliminate them from playoff contention.
Then the real fun happened. After back to back solid 10-6 seasons, that possibly could have been better had it not been for some untimely injuries, Chip Kelly elected to make some major changes. Starting Quarterback Nick Foles was swapped for Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford, while wildly talented, has not been able to stay on the field due to injuries in his NFL career thus far. Star running back LeSean McCoy was traded for Kiko Alonso. Alonso played under Kelly at Oregon, and Kelly and McCoy seemed to never see eye to eye. The hole left at running back was filled by perhaps an even bigger star. Former Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray took the money and ran to the division rival Eagles. Murray is coming off the biggest season of his career as a Cowboy and was a first-team all-pro last season. The Eagles also lost pro-bowlers Jeremy Maclin and Evan Mathis. Maclin was the teams leading receiver last season and parted ways with the Eagles in free agency to reunite with former Eagles head coach Andy Reid. Evan Mathis was released by the Eagles as a result of an ongoing contract dispute between the two sides.
With all this movement it is hard to figure what to make of this new look Eagles squad. There looks to be the possibility for greatness, but there is also the possibility this could be a complete disaster. Rarely do NFL teams move so many major pieces around, although the Eagles seem to have entrusted their third year head coach Chip Kelly. Kelly seems to have a vision, but for now, when the Eagles come to opposing stadium, it is like the circus has come to town. There is no telling what may happen, but these are two competitive teams meeting up in week 1 on Monday Night Football. This is a must watch for are football fans.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Atlanta Falcons
Another NFC East opponent appears on the list. The Cowboys are always one of the most hyped up franchises in sports. America’s team dominates headlines regardless of how good they are. Last season, the Tony Romo led Cowboys finally won a playoff game against the Detroit Lions, only to be heartbroken the next week on a catch that was not by Dez Bryant. These two teams look to be the cream of their respective divisions, so it should be a compelling and competitive match up at Jerry World.
The Cowboys are always a great team to beat, but what makes this matchup so intriguing is the game within the game. This game features two of the league’s elite wide receivers. Dez Bryant has become a star for the Cowboys and recently just got paid like one. After holding out of some offseason activities Bryant inked a 5-year, $70 million deal. He cannot be guarded one on one and can go up and get any ball over anybody in the league. He led all receivers with 16 touchdowns last season. Star corner Desmond Trufant is going to have his hands full all day with Bryant. Meanwhile, Jones has been everything the Falcons expected when they traded up to get him in the 2011 draft. He finished 3rd in both receptions and receiving yard last season, and it seems the only thing that can stop Jones is his health. He only played in 5 games in 2013 and had numerous lingering injuries last season. When healthy, Jones has an edge over Bryant, and look for him to showcase it in this week 3 matchup against the Cowboys.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Falcons face the Colts in a marquee match up in week 11. The Colts are one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl out of the AFC and for good reason. Last season, Andrew Luck took the next step and is now officially an elite quarterback in the NFL. Took him long enough, right? The Colts were able to upset the Broncos an earn a bid to the AFC championship where they were demolished by the Patriots. The final game was a disapointment, but it was not a reflection of the success they achieved over the 2014 season.
The Colts added veteran stars Frank Gore and Andre Johnson to their roster. Johnson has had a rough go of it the past couple of seasons, but should be in for a comeback season now that he is catching balls from Andrew Luck. Frank Gore looks to head what has been a lackluster unit for the Colts over the past few seasons. Gore is entering his 11th NFL season, but still does not seem to be slowing down. Over the past 4 seasons he has eclipsed both 250 carries and 1,000 rushing yards for the 49ers. The addition of the two players perhaps makes the Colts favorites to win the AFC this season.
The Falcons will be looking to make a statement around this time of year. They should benefit from their weak schedule to this point and be looking to prove themselves against one of the league’s elite. Coming off a bye and playing the Colts at home gives the Falcons a great opportunity show the NFL they are legit.