Falcons

Wild Card Weekend: Falcons at Rams Preview

Injuries

Los Angeles Rams Final Injury Report

Ramsinjuryreport

Not much to note from the rams side of things in the injury department. Starting LB Mark Barron had full participation and is going to start for LA. WR Michael Thomas is doubtful as he did not practice this week but it will not be a huge blow to LA’s offense as he only has 93 yards on the season (75 in meaningless week 17 game.) The very dangerous return-man Pharoh Cooper was given no game status so it’s assumed that he will play. Special teams has been an issue so the falcons would like him not to be at full strength. Another important injury to the rams is their Place Kicker Greg Zuerlin who was placed on the IR during December. That should benefit the falcons if it does come down to field goals or if the defense can bend but not break.

Atlanta Falcons Final Injury Report

ATLinjuryreport

*Andy Levitre (Starting LG) is not on the injury report as he was placed on season-ending IR

The injury report for the Falcons was concerning earlier in the week as most players who went out in Sundays game were listed as Limited and DNP. Julio Jones has been On and off the injury reports this whole year so it wasn’t a great concern. Devonta Freeman went out in the 3rd quarter in the Carolina game and it didn’t look great but he did practice this week like Julio. Andre Roberts was a concern with a knee and ankle injury but is expected to play. In case he can’t go, Taylor Gabriel, coming off of a hamstring injury is playing and did field kicks in practice this week.

Alex Mack, All-Pro Center, also had a calf injury that he has been battling but has practiced this week. Dan Quinn informed the press today that everyone will be ready.

Good news for both the Rams and Falcons that most of the players will be active.

Matchups to watch

Falcons’ Offense (Steve Sarkisian) vs. Rams’ Defense (Wade Phillips)

At the beginning of the year, Steve Sarkisian was under fire for not fully utilizing the weapons at his disposal. While he has gotten better, he has not been great in switching up his play calling. A lot of games it seems as if he has been calling plays the same. A good offensive coordinator will switch up his plays to counter the weaknesses of the defense but Sarkisian seems to call plays the same every game. He is also very committed to balance. This year it has seemed he’s more concerned with having a balance of run and pass plays than winning. For example, when facing a bad pass defense in Seattle, Sarkisian called 30 pass plays and 27 run plays. That shouldn’t be the ratio if you have a great QB, WR1, and WR2 as well as you facing a bad pass defense. Those runs are also low percentage runs such as the toss play he runs a ton. He needs to change his playcalling based on the looks the Rams are giving him rather than have a predetermined set of plays. Sarkisian is going to have a problem with this because of Wade Phillips changing between 4-3, 3-4, and other defensive looks to confuse offenses. Hopefully the experience Ryan has will help him this game to identify the defenses. Phillips has taken a bad defense and made them good while Sarkisian has regressed a great offense. Part of what Phillips has done this year is use different fronts on the line such as using a 5 man front which has led to Aaron Donald getting 11 sacks from an interior line position as well as 48 total sacks which is good for 4th in the league. The Falcons are tied for 3rd in sacks allowed with 24. Levitre being injured will lead to a little more sacks especially with Donald being in the interior.

According to NFL Matchup, the Rams are the 4th best in the league at applying pressure and in turn are a very aggressive defense. Expecting Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer to stop a DPOY candidate is a dream so it will be on Alex Mack and Sarkisian. With Mack, he needs to do his job but a little extra especially on double teams. For Sarkisian, he needs to utilize screens, quick throws, and an interior running game. Falcons faced a similarly aggressive defense last week and Sarkisian game-planned for that. Matt Ryan has also played very well under duress, especially the last few weeks, and his experience will also help him keep a cool head like he has had under pressure.

Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman In the Passing Game vs. Rams’ Linebacker Core

In the last few games, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have been used a lot the past few weeks starting with the Tampa Bay game in week 15. Devonta Freeman got his first receiving TD this whole year last week against Carolina and should have much more if Sarkisian utilized him correctly the first 14 weeks. Tevin Coleman was also a major weapon last year in the passing and screen game which forced defenses to respect both aspects of both runningbacks. The linebackers on the Rams will most likely be the ones covering Coleman and Freeman and so Sarkisian needs to utilize the speed difference with screens but also wheel routes, swing routes, and texas routes. I would like to see more Texas routes used because Linebackers against the Falcons are forced to overplay and play closer to the sideline and so that will allow the RB to run a flat route but cut inside. This route has been used some by Sarkisian but I would like to see it utilized more.

Keys to the Game

Containing Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley has become a dominant force this year both as a receiver and running back by leading the league in scrimmage yards. He’s an explosive back who will break off a long run eventually. Gurley has a habit of gaining 3-5 yards every carry and then out of nowhere, he will break an 80 yard TD run untouched.  It will be interesting to see how Quinn and Manuel decide to contain Gurley although it’s much easier said than done.

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The Colts held Gurley to his lowest Yards per Attempt total this game the way they did it is by setting the edge with their outside linebackers and defensive ends. De’vondre Campbell will be extremely important to setting the edge to make sure Gurley can’t bounce outside.

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Of course, it is much easier said than done but It will be interesting to see how Quinn and Manuel decide to gameplan against Gurley.

Establish Running Game

The Falcons are 3-0 when Devonta Freeman gets more than 24 touches (rushing and receiving) and are 4-1 when he gets 15+ rushing attempts. Even more important is that the Falcons are 4-4 when Freeman gets less than 15 rushing attempts. Additionally, the Falcons are 5-0 when Coleman gets 10+ rushing attempts and are 4-5 when he doesn’t.

Win Turnover Margin

The Falcons, this year have been poor on defense in the turnover department. Going into Week 17, they were tied for last in the NFL in TOs forced but after the 3 INTs, the Falcons are 27th in the league in TOs forced. The good thing is that they are 9th in TOs from their offense. The Falcons are 5-1 this year when they win the turnover margin this year so it’s important for the offense to make the correct decisions and for the defense to be “fast and physical” like Dan Quinn preaches.

Win Time Of Possession battle

When facing a high powered offense like the Rams, it is important to keep the offense off the field for as long as possible and limit the number of possessions the other team has. Falcons are 1st in the league on offense averaging 2 minutes and 55 seconds per drive and will need to continue this in order to keep the Rams offense off the field.

Run No-Huddle

This is not necessarily a key to the game but it’s a point Sarkisian needs to address. In my opinion, the falcons have been much better this year when going no-huddle as Ryan gets to control more of what is called. It’s also important because in the NFL, as opposed to the NCAA, there are around 22 defensive players and less than 10 defensive line players. The falcons would benefit from running the no-huddle because the defense doesn’t have much time to set up and read the offense as they normally do. They also can’t make substitutions so on long drives it’s important to make the defense tired. They don’t necessarily have to immediately get up to the line and snap the ball. They can set the ball and allow Ryan to read the defense and the defense still won’t be able to substitute.

Prediction

Falcons 28-24

I believe this is going to be a shootout for the most part with a few defensive stops mixed in. I think it will come down to the wire though with Matt Ryan throwing the game winning TD. The way the Falcons win this game is to score more than 20 points as they are undefeated when they have. What’s also important is for the Falcons to eliminate drops and penalties as that has been holding this team back this year. The falcons are their worst enemy and that will hold true this game but if the Falcons can limit their mistakes, they should be headed to Philadelphia next week.

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Hater’s Guide to The New Orleans Saints

Welcome to a “Hater’s Guide to The New Orleans Saints.” Hopefully, in this article, I can provide you with enough reasons for you to hate the ‘Aints.

Coach- Sean Payton

Sean Payton is the saints head coach who willingly allowed Bounty-Gate to happen (more on that later). After that whole debacle, he received a year long suspension, even when he should’ve been fired, and Saints fans created “Free Sean Payton” shirts acting like he was in jail.

22mysaintsbiz2-1024jpg-0fd7a657fa890f75 sean-payton-choke

He also, in our previous matchup, made a choking symbol to Devonta Freeman but claimed he didn’t. Then, this week, he backtracked and said he regretted it even though just a week earlier he said he had no idea it happened.

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I never knew this but as pointed out on the Falcons’ Subreddit, his face also looks like a cat butt.

Drew Brees is EVERYWHERE.

He has been in 10 times the amount of commercials Matt Ryan has been in. Matt Ryan has only been the main person promoting something in 1 ad out of 6 that he appears in. Drew Brees has been in 63 commercials and I’m sure many more Billboard ads and print ads in New Orleans. It doesn’t matter what the product is, he will endorse it. I especially hate this ad:

Alvin Kamara Nose ring

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I mean look at how stupid it looks. He also has a complete gold grill that doesn’t even look cool as well as another nose piercing.

Dumb pictures after turnover

They pose for a group picture after every single turnover and its really annoying. It’s their own version of the “Turnover Chain” and it isn’t very good. It backfired on them eventually against the Falcons and of course Falcons fans went after them with this picture:

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Music/Rappers

The only good thing music wise to come out of New Orleans is Jazz and Lil Wayne. Jazz isn’t even 100% from New Orleans so let’s look at the rappers New Orleans have produced. Master P, DJ Khaled, Lil Wayne, Kevin Gates, and Mystikal are really the only important rappers they’ve produced and even Lil Wayne doesn’t like Saints Fans:

. I’m sure everyone knows about Atlanta hip hop artists and rappers but I’ll go over it anyways. 2 Chainz, 21 Savage, Akon, Andre 3000, B.o.B, Bankroll Fresh, Big Boi, Boyz n da Hood, Future, CeeLo Green, Lil Jon, Lil Scrappy, Lil Yachty, Ludacris, Migos, Outkast, Phife Dawg, Playboi Carti, Rich Homie Quan, Russ, Soulja Boy, T.I., Trinidad James, Waka Flocka Flame, YFN Lucci, Ying Yang Twins, and Young Thug.

Colleges

The only Big Name college in New Orleans is Tulane and in Atlanta it is Georgia Tech. LSU is also located an hour outside New Orleans so we can compare Georgia Tech and LSU. In football, Georgia Tech holds the all time series record 12-7 as well having the longest win streak. Georgia Tech also has more national championships and Conference championships. LSU holds the best all time record and more bowl games but Georgia Tech holds the best bowl record. In Basketball Georgia Tech has more conference championships but LSU has a higher overall winning percentage and leads the all time series 12-10. In Academics, Georgia Tech is a top 10 public school while LSU isn’t top 25.

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Drew Brees screwed me in fantasy

This year, I thought since the saints only source of offense the last three years has been Drew Brees and how he has thrown for almost 5,000 yards every year that I would draft him as my QB. Of course, the one year I draft him, he isn’t the only source of offense.

The Fans

  • One saints fan decided to sue the saints because they “disrespected” the anthem and he is trying to get his tickets refunded.
  • Saints fans paid (or tried to) for a billboard that said 28-3 to try to remind falcons fans as if we aren’t reminded by it a lot.

  • It is pretty funny how Saints fans complained about the refs when in 2012, a replacement ref for a Saints game was a saints fan. He was eventually pulled from the game but Saints fans apparently found no problem with a fan reffing a game but found problems with a former falcons player, who played in the 70s for 4 years, reffing a game.
  • The Aints also went through a dark time and almost all their fans wore paper bags to their games. Sad.

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One of the worst stadium debacles ever

Image: Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers

Who can forget when hosting a super bowl, their lights went out in the middle of the game?

Gregg Williams/Bountygate

The worst blemish on the entire Saints franchise was when Sean Payton allowed Gregg Williams, an assistant, to create monetary prizes for injuring players. This went on from 2009-2012 and not so coincidentally they won their Super Bowl during that time period.

Stupid things that have happened in New Orleans

When Yellow Fever swept New Orleans, more than 40,000 people died. The death toll left people wondering if the dead were coming back to life to infect the living. So, during funeral processions, they began to map out crazy routes through the city, in order to confuse the dead. At some point, they added jazz music to the processional.

Somehow, New Orleans lawmakers decided that alligators were in mortal danger of being stolen, despite the fact that these animals can take your arm off if you mess with them. The penalty for stealing an alligator is jail time of up to 10 years. Luckily, stealing Crawfish is also punishable by law. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to a delicious dinner of crawfish, only to have it stolen by an armed robber. Luckily the State Legislature created a law that made it illegal to steal crawfish. Looks like Jameis Winston doesn’t like his yearly trip to New Orleans.

When The Axeman of New Orleans was on his rampage, killing people in their homes with his axe and straight edge razor, residents were terrified. He sent a message to the local paper, stating that he wouldn’t harm anyone who was playing jazz when he walked by, looking for a target. The entire city became fans of jazz music, pretty much overnight.

In 1985, Jerome Moody attended a party for lifeguards, celebrating the fact that an entire year had passed without any drownings. Four lifeguards were on duty during the party, and many of the guests, were themselves lifeguards. However, Mr. Moody was found at the bottom of the deep end of the pool, at the end of the party. He had died from drowning.

 

Fan’s Experiences

 

 

Reeves Guyton

@reevesg55

Uncategorized

Julio’s huge game leads Falcons past Buccaneers

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Receiver Julio Jones dives for the end zone for his second touchdown of the game.

It was closer than it should have been, but the Falcons hung on for a crucial 34-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Julio Jones had a monster performance with 253 receiving yards to go along with two touchdowns in the victory. Atlanta now sits at 7-4 on the season.

On its first possession, Tampa Bay drove down the field and came away with a field goal relatively easily. However, the Falcons would then counter with a field goal and two Julio Jones touchdowns to take a 17-3 lead. The teams would trade field goals to end the half, making the score 20-6.

Atlanta opened up the second half with a touchdown on their first possession. However, Tampa Bay slowly crept back into the game and suddenly they had the ball in Falcons’ territory trailing 27-20 early in the fourth quarter. Tampa would make a curious play call, electing to throw the ball on fourth down and one instead of running it, and the pass was incomplete, giving the Falcons the ball back midway through the quarter. Atlanta would take advantage, constructing a long drive that resulted in a Tevin Coleman touchdown with just under two minutes remaining that ended Tampa’s hopes of a comeback.

While the Falcons’ offense scored an impressive 34 points on the afternoon, defensive injuries sustained during the game will certainly be a cause for concern going forward. Cornerback Brian Poole left the game with a back injury, and cornerback Desmond Trufant left the game with a concussion sustained during a collision with teammate Keanu Neal. This lack of cornerback depth certainly helped Tampa in their comeback attempt.

This victory is Atlanta’s third in a row and their fourth in five games. The offense seems to finally be playing up to its potential and the defense has been playing consistently solid. The Falcons appear to be peaking at the right time as they head into the final five games of the season.

Coming up for Atlanta will be a big test at home against the 9-2 Minnesota Vikings next Sunday.

 

Jackson Stone

@tdjs_network

Falcons

Falcons vs. Seahawks Preview

Injuries

Seahawks Injury Report 1120

*Richard Sherman (CB) is out but not listed

Some important things to note from this injury report is the diminished “Legion Of Boom”. 2 of the top 3 members of the Seahawks secondary mean that mismatches will be all over the place. Earl Thomas, who has missed two straight games with a hamstring injury, is back and will try to take over Kam Chancellors role as the leader of the secondary. Hopefully with Sherman and Chancellor out, Sarkisian utilizes the TEs to get Thomas to cover him and forces the diminished secondary to cover our WRs 1-on-1. Eddie Lacy, after missing a few games, is now back and will most likely get the brunt of the carries but Seattle hasn’t had much success in the run game this year so it shouldn’t be much of a problem. Seattle’s starting LG is out and their LT is questionable but didn’t practice this week so it is unlikely that he will play. Adrian Clayborn has been licking his chops after every injury report has been released after having a 6-sack performance against the cowboys backup LT. Seattle’s strongside linebacker will also be out so look for Bobby Wagner to cover the strongside. Jarran Reed, Seattle’s starting DT, is also listed as questionable but that shouldn’t change much in the running game as Teron Ward and Tevin Coleman are both speed backs.

Falcons Injury Report 1120The only player listed as out on the official Falcons injury report is Devonta Freeman. He went out with a concussion on a hit by Andrew Hitchens last week and didn’t return. Tevin Coleman did well to fill in but Sarkisian needs to change his play calling from Devonta Freeman style runs up the middle to giving Tevin Coleman the ball on the outside. Duke Riley who hasn’t played since the Patriots game is listed as questionable but hasn’t had a full practice yet. Kemal Ishmael has done alright to fill in but Riley would be a nice step up. Matt Bosher did not practice on Friday and since it was no practice on Saturday we don’t know his official status but he is listed as questionable. Dan Quinn said, according to Jeanna Thomas, that he is very questionable to play and that our emergency punters are Matt Bryant and Mohammed Sanu. Matt Bryant has punted three times in his career, most recently last year when he punted twice for an average of 34 yards per punt. Sanu is one of the most versatile players in the NFL right now, He has thrown passes, caught passes, ran the ball, played defense, and played on special teams. The one thing he hasn’t done is punt the ball. He punted at Rutgers but has not yet done in the NFL.

 

Players to Watch

Julio Jones

As a standard with Julio, he was injured this week and held out of Thursday practice but did participate Friday. He will play but we don’t know how it will affect him. It will be interesting to see how Sarkisian utilizes him against the diminished secondary of Seattle. Julio has rarely been targeted this year and only has one touchdown. If there’s ever a day when Sarkisian should target Julio more it is today. The diminished secondary will create more one on one opportunities for Julio streaking down the field.

 

Adrian Clayborn 

Coming off a very impressive six Sack performance last week against Dallas, Play born might be going against another back up tackle depending on Duane Brown’s status, but it is unlikely that he will play. Look for Clayborn, Jarrett, and Poe to get after the left side with Seattle (maybe)missing their left tackle and definitely missing their left guard.

 

Michael Wilhoite 

Seattle’s strong side linebacker is out and this is most likely going to affect the coverage aspect of the game. Austin Hooper has played very well this year and since Wilhoite is a great coverage man and it is most likely that Wagner will not be able to fill-in in coverage.

 

KEYS TO THE GAME

 

Offense

1. Call runs for Tevin Coleman, not Devonta Freeman.

Coleman was forced to run way too many inside runs last week and once we got him out in space he had a lot of yards. Hopefully Sarkisian will use this knowledge to get him out in space because Coleman is a speed back unlike Freeman who is more of a power back

2. Bootlegs/ Rollouts

Last year, Matt Ryan did very well throwing on the run to tight ends and crossing routes. Last week on a scoring drive when we got to the red zone, we call to bootleg plays with Austin Hooper going out on a flat route. The first play, Austin Hooper got 10 yards and the second play he got five for a touchdown. On one of the touchdowns by Tevin Coleman it would’ve been very easy for Matt Ryan to fake an outside handoff to Kevin Coleman and run the other way and easily scamper in for a touchdown. This was used last year very often but needs to be used more this year.

3. Get Julio Jones Involved

I know it sounds obvious, but Julio needs to break out this week and the only way to do that is if Ryan and Sarkisian target him. This week would be the best week to break out for Julio because of the diminished secondary of Seattle as well as how important this game is. Last week on Justin Hartley’s touchdown catch in the back of the Endzone Julio was used as a decoy. When you have the talent that is Julio Jones, as an offense of coordinator you can’t use him as a decoy in the end zone. We all saw what happened when you just threw it up to him in the end zone versus the patriots so who’s to say he can’t do that against a worse smaller corner.

 

Defense

1. Keep Russell Wilson in the pocket

Russell Wilson is a Seahawks leading rusher. Although that means that Seattle can’t really run the ball, it also means that Russell Wilson is a great escape artist. He is smaller than cam Newton but also faster and this will mark the third straight week in which the Falcons face a running QB. In the two weeks against Cam Newton and Dak Prescott the defense allowed two rushing touchdowns. It will be interesting to see who manual makes the QB spy for Wilson and also how he utilizes blitzes and changes the defensive end’s strategy to better keep contain.

2. Keep Jimmy Graham in check

Jimmy Graham, as a saint, absolutely destroyed the Falcons’ defense every time the Falcons play the Saints. The Falcons have always had trouble against tight ends but last week, Devondre Campbell kept Witten in and held him to no touchdowns and a minimal amount of yards. It will be interesting to see if Campbell continues guarding Jimmy Graham as Graham is a bit bigger than Witten. Doug Baldwin is their biggest wide receiver threat and it will be interesting to see how safety help from Kyoto Neal and Ricardo Allen is utilized to help Trufant keep Doug Baldwin out of the endzone. Baldwin also gets a lot of his yards when Russell Wilson is scrambling as cornerbacks struggle to keep him from running for the first down. A QB spy from one of our linebackers will help this as it keeps Trufant on Baldwin.

3. Get more interior pressure.

Usually I would say that Clayborn and Beasley as well as Brooks read on the outside need to get pressure but with them over committing to get pressure it will make it easier for Russell Wilson to get outside. So today is more important for Jared and Paco to get interior pressure and force him outside the pocket and into Reed and Clayborn’s hands if they stay home.

 

Prediction

Falcons 31- 24 Seahawks

The bad news is that Chris Simms picked the Falcons to win. The falcons are 1-3 when picked by Chris Simms to win and 4-1 when picked to lose. I agree with Chris but I don’t believe it will be as close as he thinks it will be (23-21). I expect this to be a hard-fought and relatively close game but the Falcons will eventually pull away. The way for the Falcons to win this game will be to improve on the offense they had last week. They had great offensive rhythm going last week in the second half but need to have a full game of that same offensive power. The defense also needs to step up and limit their vertical attack. Seattle is one of the worst offenses in the league when it comes to rushing and so take away the pass and they virtually have nothing. Expect Julio Jones and the defense of line to have a big game today and the Falcons come out with a win and end up controlling their destiny for the playoffs. The referees will also have a huge impact on this game but at least Sherman won’t be there so this can’t happen again.

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By: Reeves Guyton

@reevesg55