Atlanta Falcons: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 2

Al BruceContributor ISeptember 10, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 08: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons calls a play at the line of scrimmage against the New Orleans Saints during a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 8, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons 23-17. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

With Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints in the rear-view mirror, the Atlanta Falcons now turn their attention to this Sunday's home opener against the St. Louis Rams.  The Rams opened their season with a 27-24 victory over the Cardinals, and they'll be hoping to steal a game at the Georgia Dome by catching the Falcons sulking over their loss to the rival Saints.

Before we dive into breaking down the X's and O's against the Rams, let's set the stage for Week 2's matchup by taking a look at what's happening around the rest of the NFC South in Week 2, anticipating Atlanta's Week 2 injury report and discussing which problems need to be addressed heading into this Sunday's game if Atlanta wants to get its first win.


NFC South Division Standings

 Team W L Division ConferenceWeek 2
 New Orleans 1 0 1-0 1-0@ TB
 Tampa Bay 0 1 0-0 0-0vs. NO
 Carolina 0 1 0-0 0-1@ BUF
 Atlanta 0 1 0-1 0-1vs. STL

Granted the season is only a week old, but the Falcons missed a golden opportunity to seize an early lead in the division when their final drive against the Saints fell short since Tampa Bay and Carolina also opened up with losses.

In Week 2, New Orleans heads down to Tampa Bay for a second straight NFC South tilt, while Carolina heads up north to take on EJ Manuel and the Buffalo Bills.  The Falcons can get right back on track with a win at home against the Rams and a Tampa Bay victory over the Saints.


Injury Report


 Player Position Injury
 Stephen Nicholas OLB Thigh
 Asante Samuel CB Thigh
 Roddy White WR High Ankle Sprain

The Falcons' first Week 2 injury report won't come out until Wednesday, but based on last week's report and Sunday's playing-time percentage chart (via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), you can probably expect Stephen Nicholas, Asante Samuel and Roddy White to appear on the report.  Nicholas and White were both limited against the Saints, and Asante Samuel missed the game.

Robert Alford, Desmond Trufant and Robert McClain stepped up in Samuel's absence, but the Falcons offense clearly suffered without Roddy White playing at full strength.


What Needs to Improve

The Rams have a talented, young defensive front with Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers.  Indeed, the Rams group is probably more talented than the Saints front that terrorized Atlanta's offensive line in Week 1.

The Falcons have to get better up front to give Matt Ryan time to get the ball downfield.  We'll discuss some things Atlanta can do to improve its protection when we dive into the game plan later this week.

Defensively, Atlanta has to be ready to cover Georgia native Jared Cook at tight end.  Also, the Rams offensive line is going to have to deal with the noise in the Georgia Dome, so the Falcons defensive line has to take advantage of the crowd noise and get more pressure than it did against the Saints.

We'll discuss these two issues and more and analyze Atlanta's upcoming showdown with St. Louis over the next couple of days.