Falcons fans came into the season with expectations for the first time in a while, and some of those expectations were met in a Week 1 win over the Panthers.
The offense left a lot to be desired but the running game looked like it could be one of the best in the league once again. Bijan Robinson came as advertised, and Tyler Allgeier added some thunder to the elusiveness of his first-round counterpart.
On the other side of the ball, the Falcons looked competent on defense for the first time since 2017. The new faces showed up throughout the game, starting with the prize of this year’s free agent class Jessie Bates III, who forced three turnovers on his way to NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. David Onyemata also had a huge impact, as he and Grady Jarrett provided pressure up the middle, while Kaden Elliss and Calais Campbell held their own against the Panthers rushing attack.
A two touchdown win is never anything to scoff at in the NFL, but Carolina looked like a team that could be in the conversation for the #1 overall pick in a few months. The next few weeks will give everyone a much better idea of what to expect from the Falcons in 2023.
Beginning this Sunday, the Falcons host the Packers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Green Bay is coming off a convincing win over the Bears in Week 1. Their defense is just as good, if not better than Carolina’s, and their offense can create a lot more problems for Atlanta’s defense, especially if Aaron Jones, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, is active. Regardless, Matt LaFleur is going to lean on his running game, and Jordan Love looked like a more than capable starting quarterback as the Packers move on from Aaron Rodgers.
The following week, the Falcons face another NFC North contender in their first road game at Detroit. The Lions came into the season the favorites to win their division, and their Week 1 victory on the road at Kansas City justified the hype. This isn’t the Lions of old. They have a quality quarterback in Jared Goff with weapons around him and an improved defense. It will be a tough test, especially on the road.
In Week 4, Atlanta travels to London to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were picked by just about everyone to win the AFC South. Trevor Lawrence is a rising star that is coming into his own, and the addition of Calvin Ridley is already paying dividends. With their defense also being one of the better units in the league, the Jags could be the toughest opponent the Falcons play all season.
Photographer: John Adams/Icon Sportswire