Make A Statement Week 1
Every once in a while the NFL has a statement game on their schedule. New England and Pittsburgh square off December 16th. Minnesota and LA play week 4. The Falcons have a chance to make their mark on the first Thursday of the season. A team with the best offensive line in the NFL, a very talented secondary (ask Brandin Cooks), and one of the deepest defensive lines in the league anchored by All-Pros Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox. Oh, and they’re fresh off that whole Super Bowl thing with their backup quarterback. Speaking of their quarterback situation, 2017 MVP Frontrunner Carson Wentz is expected to be suited up for this game after coming off of a torn ACL. So the team that put 538 yards on Bill Belichick the last time they took the field gets even stronger.
Some fans may see this as a terrible start to the season, I think that Dan Quinn will see opportunity. Going into Lincoln Financial Field and knocking off the defending champs will be a dream start to the season. The Falcons have just as talented of a roster as anyone in the NFL, and Steve Sarkisian’s playcalling will be put to the test immediately against a stingy Philadelphia defense. Not many teams have an opportunity to set the tone for the season week 1. The Falcons do.
Win the Easy Games
The Falcons’ schedule this season isn’t an easy one, but it’s also not a gauntlet of the NFL’s prime talent. The toughest games I see so far are the aforementioned Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans (Twice), and Green Bay in Wisconsin in December. Philadelphia is fresh off of a championship and the favorite to win it all again this year. New Orleans will be a top tier team in the NFL. The Packers aren’t the most talented, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that it’s gonna be pretty cold, a tall order against one of the top QBs of all time on his home turf. An improved Giants club could be a wild card on Monday night, and Zeke Elliott is liable to go off for 200 any given night. Baltimore could be starting Lamar Jackson by the time Atlanta sees them. It’s crucial for the Falcons to feast on the lower tier of their schedule: Cleveland, Washington, Tampa (twice), Arizona, and Cincinnati are 6 games in which the Falcons should easily overmatch their competition. In a division as tough as the NFC South, these are must win games.
Win both games against Carolina
Personally, I think the Panthers are a team that’s going to disappoint in 2018. Their roster keeps getting progressively worse, they lost Andrew Norwell while giving Matt Kalil a massive overpay. There are huge holes in their offensive line, secondary, and skill positions on offense. I expect serious regression from Cam Newton, a career low in accuracy and a career high in interceptions. I have them pegged at 7-9 for this year. However, division games are always competitive and Luke Kuechly is still the quarterback of their defense. If the Falcons want to take Carolina out of this three team race, they need to take advantage of a roster that’s the weakest it’s been in a long time.
Beat the Saints in New Orleans on Thanksgiving
There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the biggest game of the season. Maybe one of the biggest in franchise history with the Falcons in the thick of their Super Bowl window. At 8:20 on November 22nd, the NFC South may be decided. Unfortunately for Atlanta, this game is in the wrong Mercedes Benz sponsored stadium. The Superdome will be absolutely deafening, not to mention Drew Brees & company will want this game just as bad as Atlanta. The NFC South has been a revolving door, this game could decide who slams it shut for 2018.
Don’t Fall Asleep Against Tampa Bay Week 17
It happens every year. Week 17, a team that has been dreadful all year comes out and beats a juggernaut who is looking ahead to the postseason. Jameis Winston will likely be fighting for his future with the club following his latest sexual assault accusation. Dirk Koetter, if he’s even still employed, will be coaching for his job. If he isn’t, his interim coach will be coaching for his (Mike Smith, anyone?) Tampa will be pulling out all the stops to get a win against Atlanta. One game could easily decide this division, even if the opponent is picking in the top 3 in the draft.