The total finishes under 57.5
Right now, Vegas has the total sitting at 57.5, a full two points over where it opened. It’s almost surprising that number isn’t higher considering these are two of the most prolific offenses in football and two of the most anemic defenses. The Falcons alone have been averaging 34.7 points per game over their last three and have allowed just as many.
On top of that, Devonta Freeman is supposed to be back after missing the last three weeks and Grady Jarrett will miss the game with a sprained ankle. That should mean the Falcons offense will be even more explosive, and their defense will be incredibly handicapped, as if they weren’t already.
But like Vegas usually is, I think they are on to something here. In Atlanta’s one road game this season they only managed to muster 12 points and the total reached 30. Pittsburgh is coming off a game at home in which they only put up 14 points and clearly missed Le’Veon Bell. Fortunately for the Falcons, Bell won’t be there this week either. His presence will be sorely miss, and this game ends slightly lower scoring than everyone is expecting.
Julio Jones scores two touchdowns
Yep, this is BOLD. It’s what the section is all about. The man who is on pace for over 2,000 yards and 0 touchdowns this season changes that here in week 5. Listen, it’s a little unbelievable how few touchdowns Jones has scored the past two seasons. However, the Falcons offense is reaping the benefits of the attention that is coming his way.
That’s a large part of the reason Calvin Ridley has been able to reel in 6 touchdowns over the last three games. The fact that Ridley is a bonafide stud doesn’t hurt either. The point is, eventually, opposing defenses are going to have to start paying more attention to the rookie wide receiver, which should open up some opportunities for Jones in the red zone.
With the Falcons playing a Pittsburgh secondary full of holes, Jones is going to have a monster day receiving. But as Falcons fans, we are all waiting for him to finally reach the end zone. He catches at least one of Matt Ryan’s touchdown passes on Sunday, but to be even bolder, I’ll say two.
The Falcons secondary looks much improved
Atlanta’s secondary has given no reason for anybody to believe in them the last couple of weeks. Yes, this group did lose both of their starting safeties, but there is still a lot of talent back there. Last week we saw Poole slide to the strong safety spot, as Desmond Trufant slid in to take over the nickel role. Isaiah Oliver played the outside corner role.
As we all know, the results were not pretty. Andy Dalton looked like he was back in the Big 12, throwing for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns. I keep saying it, but eventually, Quinn and Manuel are going to figure out a plan on defense that is somewhat effective, and I believe this current group has the ability to make that happen.
It starts with Damontae Kazee, who should not be viewed as a downgrade over Ricardo Allen. He’s already a legit starter and will only improve as he gets more reps under his belt. Isaiah Oliver will also make giant strides as he continues to gain more experience. Prior to last week, the rookie had only played in 12 snaps. The Falcons did not need a corner in this year’s draft, so their second-round selection of Oliver meant they were very high on him coming out of Colorado.
Brian Poole can hit like a linebacker and cover like a corner, so he fits naturally at strong safety.
Where the Falcons need to see improved play from is their two veteran corners Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant. Both have been sub-par from what we have come to expect. Some of that can be attributed to the constant rotation in the secondary, but both of these players need to step up.
The good news: The same group will be starting with each other two weeks in a row, for the first time all season, which will lead to a noticeable improvement this Sunday against spectacular wide receiving core.