The 2009 NFL season is finally upon us and there are many great games to kick off Week One of the season. One game that catches my attention would have to be the Miami Dolphins vs. the Atlanta Falcons.
Both teams exceeded expectations last season by finishing with records of 11 and 5 and making it into the playoffs. Atlanta had a great season last year making it to the playoffs but unfortunately lost to Arizona in the first round by a score of 30-24.
Atlanta did prove to be one of the great stories of last season but the team who surprised everyone had to be the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins had a dismal season in 2007 ending with a record of 1-15 but last year Miami improved by 10 wins finishing with a mark of 11-5.
Miami also ended up winning its division by defeating the New York Jets in the final week of the season. Chad Pennington returned to New York in the last week of the season where he played his entire career before being traded to Miami after the 2007 season. Pennington proved to have the last laugh as he knocked the Jets out of the playoffs and in return secured another AFC East Championship for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins dream season would eventually come to an end in the playoffs as Miami fell short to the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 27-9.
Miami was led by veteran quarterback Chad Pennington who had a great first season with the Dolphins throwing for 3,653 yards with a 67.4 percent completion rate. Pennington also threw 19 touchdowns with only seven interceptions.
A key factor to Miami’s success was attributed to the Wild Cat formation led by the rushing attack of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Ronnie Brown led the team with 214 carries for 916 yards with 10 touchdowns. Ricky Williams also had a good season carrying the ball 160 times for 659 yards with four touchdowns.
Miami’s wide receivers were led by Ted Ginn Jr. who accumulated 790 yards on 56 receptions with two touchdown catches. The Dolphins also had two other receivers with over 50 catches in Greg Camarillo and Devone Bess. Camarillo caught 55 passes for 613 yards with two touchdowns while Bess caught 54 passes for 554 yards and a touchdown.
The defense of Miamiwas led by Joey Porter who accumulated 17.5 sacks, leading the team. Yeremiah Bell led the team in total tackles with 120 while Andre Goodman led the team with five interceptions. Will Allen and Renaldo Hill both had good seasons with three interceptions a piece.
Miami has most of its starters from last season with some key additions in Brian Hartline and Pat White. Hartline has proven during this preseason that he has what it takes to be an NFL receiver and Pat White could be another attribute to the Wild Cat formation.
The Dolphins also have one of their all-time greats returning in Jason Taylor who left Miami for a season to play for Washington.
On the other side of the ball we have the Atlanta Falcons who are looking for another great season behind their quarterback of the future Matt Ryan. Atlanta finished second in their division last season to Carolina and looks to better that with a division title this season.
Atlanta’s rookie sensation Matt Ryan threw for 3,440 yards with a completion percentage of 61.1. Ryan threw 16 touchdowns but needs to improve on his interceptions as he threw 11 last season.
I believe Ryan will be one of the top quarterbacks this season and throw for more touchdowns as he has a new weapon at his disposal on offense. The Falcons acquired tight end Tony Gonzalez from Kansas City who led the Chiefs last season with 96 receptions for 1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Falcons rushing attack was led by Michael Turner who had 376 rushes for 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns. Jerious Norwood also contributed with 95 rushes for 489 yards with four touchdowns.
Atlanta’s top three receivers last season were Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, and Jerious Norwood. White caught 88 passes for 1,382 yards with seven touchdowns while Jenkins had 50 receptions for 777 yards and three touchdowns. Norwood, in addition to his rushing ability, caught 36 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns.
The defense of Atlanta was led by veteran John Abraham who accumulated 16.5 sacks, leading the team. Keith Brooking led the team in total tackles with 102 while Erik Coleman led the team in interceptions with three, as well as having 95 total tackles of his own.
The Dolphins have already started the year off with a 4-0 preseason record while the Falcons preseason record was 2-2. Miami will look to start their season off with their fifth straight win while the Falcons will try to start the season on the right foot with a win in front of their home fans in the dome.
This should be a great game between two high powered offenses that can score at any moment. This could also prove to be a defensive game as well since both teams are equally balanced on both sides of the ball.
I believe that Miami will have a much harder time this season in winning games because their schedule is one of the hardest in the league. I predict that Miami will be up to the challenge because I feel that they are better than they were last season.
The Falcons should also have a better year this season since Matt Ryan has a year's experience in the NFL and should perform at an even higher level than last season. Plus the Falcons acquired a future Hall of Famer in Tony Gonzalez which gives Ryan even more options on offense.
My prediction for this game is that Miami will end up victorious in a low scoring defensive battle.