SportsTalkATL’s Staff Week 2 Predictions

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After all the hype throughout training camp, The Falcons laid an egg in their home opener against the Seahawks. At this point, we shouldn’t be surprised, but somehow they continue to manage to get our hopes up every year, at least for the first few weeks. 

Now, Atlanta has to travel to Dallas to take on a talented Cowboys team at Jerry’s world in a must-win for both teams after starting 0-1. Going 0-2 to start the season is generally a death sentence in the NFL, as far as playoff chances go.

Chase Irle’s Prediction

When I originally predicted the Falcons record, I had them losing to Seattle in Week 1 and coming back to beat the Cowboys on the road in Week 2. Of course, I let the training camp hype get to my head and switched my pick to the Falcons last Sunday. That came back to bite me, but I’m not going to hop off the bandwagon for Week 2.

With no preseason, many teams are still shaking off the rust, which was definitely apparent with both the Falcons and Cowboys last Sunday. Fortunately, I think the Falcons issues are slightly easier to fix since this staff has been together for years. The Cowboys still have several moving parts, and Atlanta should be able to take advantage, especially since Dallas enters this game very banged up. Falcons win a close one.

Falcons – 31, Cowboys – 26

 

Jake Gordon’s Prediction

Oh, how happy and ignorant I was before last Sunday. I’ve ranted on Atlanta’s performance enough, but there’s potential to bounce back this week. 

Matt Ryan hasn’t had an 0-2 start in his career yet, and I don’t think 2020 is the year it starts (although it would be fitting). Mike McCarthy looked lost against the Rams (not that Atlanta’s staff was much better), and I’m once again underwhelmed by Dak Prescott. Still, CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup could give this Falcons secondary problems. 

However, Dallas will be without several key contributors on both sides of the ball, and I think we see another big day from Matt Ryan, Ridley, Jones, and Gage. Containing Ezekiel Elliott is paramount. The Falcons did a lousy job of holding Chris Carson, so stopping Elliott and making Prescott uncomfortable is vital. If the defense comes to play, the offense should have no time getting the Falcons to 1-1.

Falcons – 37, Cowboys – 30

 

Alex Lord’s Prediction

It is Week 2, and injuries have already decimated some teams. Fortunately for Atlanta, Dallas is one of those teams. La’el Collins, Leighton Vander Esch, Blake Jarwin, Cam Erving, Ventell Bryant, and Sean Lee will all miss significant time this year, and Jourdan Lewis is questionable for this Sunday. 

Thus far, the Falcons have had better luck: only four players have been listed as questionable for the showdown in Arlington. Kendall Sheffield, Marlon Davidson, Charles Harris, and Darqueze Dennard find themselves on the injury report. If healthy, they can all help a defense that disappointed in the opener.

Starting with the Cowboys offensive line and the Falcons defensive line, I will give Atlanta a slight advantage due to injuries. Terence Steele is set to start his second game as an UDFA at right tackle. The only established linemen are Zack Martin and Tyron Smith. Dak Prescott faced a fair amount of pressure all game long against the Rams, and a bright spot for Atlanta was their pass rush against Seattle. Grady Jarrett, Takk McKinley, and Dante Fowler should all have impressive games if Atlanta can force Dallas to throw. However, if the Cowboys find their groove in the running game again, Atlanta could be in for a rude awakening

The offensive line for the Falcons held up against a pitiful Seattle pass rush. Jamal Adams gave the offense trouble, but luckily the Cowboys are much less dynamic in that aspect. Dallas does have a respectable pass-rushing duo, featuring Demarcus Lawrence and Aldon Smith, who has returned after a five-year hiatus. Jake Matthews can handle both of them — if he’s healthy — but I do not expect the interior line to get much of a push on Dontari Poe and Tyrone Crawford in the run game. Atlanta will have to rely on their passing to put points on the board.

For the second week in a row, the Falcons secondary is at a disadvantage. Dallas’ trio of wide receivers will be running wild and free if the pass rush does not show up. With Kendall Sheffield possibly missing his second straight game, Atlanta is hoping AJ Terrell and Isaiah Oliver can step up. Likewise, Atlanta’s trio of Julio, Calvin, and new to the scene Russell Gage will give the Dallas secondary fits. Expect both quarterbacks to fill up the stat sheet Sunday.

This is a close game on paper; my deciding factor is the scheme of both teams. Mike McCarthy is a better coach than Dan Quinn and will have his players in a better position mentally. Falcons fall to 0-2 for the first time in the Matt Ryan era. 

Falcons – 27, Cowboys – 31

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