Finally, the preseason is over and teams are drawing up a gameplan for their upcoming opponents.
I read fellow writer John McCurdy's game preview and prediction and I really liked the format he used. He broke down Miami's run defense against the Falcons' run offense, Atlanta's pass offense against the Dolphins' pass defense, and so forth.
So, I decided to rip that particular page from his playbook.
Miami's run offense vs. Atlanta's run defense
The Falcons will start the season with a challenge against the tandem of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
The Falcons' run defense has made huge strides. Although the stats during the preseason weren't great, the Falcons' first team run defense did not allow any big runs and the defense as a whole only allowed 3.7 yards per rush.
The biggest problem Atlanta may have with the Dolphins' run game is the Wildcat offense. The 'Fins introduced the league to the official wildcat offense [unofficial would be the one man highlight reel Michael Vick put on each week] and are arguably the best executors of the nontraditional offense.
The Dolphins' also have a very good offensive line, that is athletic enough to block for the Wildcat to take form.
The Falcons' will allow some big plays due to confusion but in standard run plays they should be able to make stops.
Atlanta's run offense vs. Miami's run defense
The Falcons have arguably the best running back in the league and a nasty, aggressive offensive line.
The Dolphins have an okay defensive line, headed by veteran nose tackle Jason Ferguson. At defensive end the Dolphins have second year men Philip Merling and Kendall Langford.
The 'Fins defensive line is decent, but it can't stop the Falcons' rushing attack. Runs up the middle may get stopped at times because of Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele in the middle, but Jason Taylor and Joey Porter's ability to stop outside runs are questionable [let's face it, they're getting up their in age].
Michael Turner may get a couple of goal line touchdowns late in the game.
Miami's pass offense vs. Atlanta's pass defense
Chad Pennington doesn't strike fear into many because of his lack of arm strength, but his accuracy makes up for it. Maybe he doesn't have a great receiver but he's intelligent and can read defenses.
The Falcons can at least contain the Dolphins' receivers but covering tight end Tony Fasano will be challenging. Stephen Nicolas will be looked upon to cover Fasano but Erik Coleman may take over that task during the game.
The Falcons have to get pressure on Pennington. He isn't mobile at all and will end up getting sacked. But most importantly he'll get forced into making mistakes, and the Falcons' secondary will actually look good.
Ted Ginn may end up burning Brent Grimes or Chris Houston for some big yardage touchdowns.
*Newly acquired defensive back Tye Hill will not start. The other defensive back Brian Williams may get plenty of playing time but also won't start.
Atlanta's pass offense vs. Miami's pass defense
Falcons QB Matt Ryan may have a pretty decent game against the Dolphins' secondary.
The Dolphins won't be able to cover Pro Bowlers Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez and still keep Michael Jenkins contained, so their will be plenty of open targets for Ryan.
The only worry is Jason Taylor and Joey Porter. Although they're old, they can still rush the QB. The Falcons offensive line will have to show more athleticism on the right side [yes Dahl and Clabo, you have to back up and see where the pressure is instead of just mauling them over].
Matt Ryan will toss a couple of pretty balls to "Rowdy" Roddy White for touchdowns.
Falcons 28, Dolphins 20
The Falcons potent offense will prove to be to much for the Dolphins.
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