Welcome to Falcons Quest, where we take a deeper look at some of the more critical issues facing the Atlanta Falcons.
The NFL has now become a 365-day league. The moment after the championship team hoists the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the Super Bowl, fans and media begin to prepare for the gridiron battles the following season. The 2010 Draft has become a three-day celebration of the league, training camps are broken down, and every position from the starting QB to the head cheerleader is analyzed.
Also, it has almost become a national holiday once the NFL schedule is released. As a result, we immediately break down who, what, when and where our favorite teams are going on their quest for Super Bowl glory. By the time we have looked at the schedule, we can already sense if playoff tickets are in order, or live by the old axiom “Wait till next year.”
Here at Falcons Quest it is no different. So without further ado, here is the first official Falcons Quest Instant Over-Analyzed Analysis of the Atlanta Falcons 2010-2011 NFL Schedule. What we’re going to do is break down the first half of the schedule this week, and the second half next week.
Sept. 12 @ Steelers—The obvious big storyline here is that there is no Ben Roethlisberger at QB for the Steelers, since he decided to be a naughty little boy in a Milledgeville, Ga. night club bathroom. Being from Macon and having family in Milledgeville, I can just tell you there’s nothing in that city that is worth getting in trouble over, but I digress. This will also be Matt Ryan’s first time starting a season on the road, so we will see if he can play well against a raucous Heinz Field crowd. It will be interesting to see how the revamped Falcons defense will perform against possibly Charlie Batch or former Falcon Byron Leftwich. First games of the season are usually toss ups because teams are still feeling each other out.
Sept. 19 Cardinals—Speaking of QB changes, the Falcons return home to face an Arizona Cardinals team that will be led by new QB Matt Leinart, who takes place of the retired Kurt Warner. Atlanta spent a lot of money bringing in CB Dunta Robinson as a free agent, and he will be tested against All-Pro receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Sept. 26 @ Saints—If Atlanta is going to prove they belong in the NFL’s upper echelon, then defeating the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints (I still have issues just typing those words) in the Superdome is a must. The Falcons played the Saints very well in both games last year, only to falter in the end. As always, expect a high scoring game between these two rivals.
Oct. 3rd 49ers—Last year, Atlanta went into 3Com, Monster, Candlestick, or whatever it’s called Park and demolished the Niners 45-10. Coach Mike Singletary has his team on the cusp of returning to the playoffs, and revenge will definitely be on their minds here. Can the Falcons slow down WRs Michael Crabtree, and newly acquired return specialist Ted Ginn Jr.?
Oct. 10 @ Browns—New Browns GM Mike Holmgren has put his stamp on Cleveland’s team, and Atlanta must not take this team lightly in the Dawg Pound. Championship teams know how to effectively dismantle lesser talented teams, so it will be interesting to see if Atlanta will use their running game to their advantage. Also, with Cleveland having unsettled QB issues (will they start either Colt McCoy or Jake Delhomme), Atlanta’s defense must take advantage.
Oct. 17 @Eagles—Last year Philadelphia embarrassed the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. The salt in the wound especially came from former Falcon QB Michael Vick, passing and running for touchdowns as both Ryan and RB Michael Turner were out for this game. Now they face an Eagles squad that traded franchise QB Donovan McNabb to give the reigns to Kevin Kolb, released RB Michael Westbrook, yet still has the dangerous breakout speed of DeSean Jackson.
Oct. 24 Bengals—The Falcons return home to face the 2009 AFC North Champion Cincinnati Bengals. They possess the arm of Pro Bowl QB Carson Palmer, the catching talents of WR Chad Ochocinco, and RB Cedric Benson, who had over 1400 yards rushing in 2009. Much like the Saints, Atlanta should expect a shootout, and much use their running game to neutralize the aerial attack the Bengals like to employ.
If healthy, Atlanta should be at least 4-3 heading into the bye week, with victories over the Steelers, Cardinals, 49ers, and Browns. The Eagles and Bengals games could go either way, and with it still being early in the season I don’t foresee Atlanta beating the Saints in their dome just yet.
We will take a further look at the rest of the 2010 NFL schedule for the Falcons next week here at Falcons Quest!