The Atlanta Falcons open up the 2019 season on the road at Minnesota. Heading into this game, the Falcons officially have Julio Jones under a new contract as they extended him to a 3-year $66 million deal this afternoon making him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. Falcons will also go with rookie Kaleb McGary and Ty Sambrailo for right tackle with McGary looking like he will get the start. Tackle Matt Gono who was signed this past offseason, was competing with McGary for the right tackle position. However, he has struggled with back pain this week and is ruled out for the game on Sunday as he did not practice on Friday. Falcons also named James Carpenter as the starting left guard for Sunday’s game. This means that the Falcons could be the first team in NFL history to have 5 first round draft picks starting on the offensive line.
As to what look for in this game, I will say look to see how Devonta Freeman does. Freeman has not played in an actually game since week 1 last season in Philadelphia. Also look to see how rookie’s Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary do. They are going up against a well experience Minnesota defensive front that can give them issues. Plus Mike Zimmer loves to have his defense disguise the blitz so this is a very good test for the Falcons rookie offensive linemen. Matt Bryant should be another thing to look for in this game as he did not go through preseason like everyone’s kicker did and he hasn’t kicked in a game since week 13 of last season when the Falcons played the Ravens. Defensively, I would keep my eye on Isiah Oliver and Vic Beasley. Oliver did get some playing time last season with all the injuries that the Falcons had. At times he either looked completely lost or confused. This is his second season with the Falcons and did show some signs of improvement in preseason. Vic Beasley has arguably the most pressure on him this season as the Falcons chose to exercise his 5th year option. Beasley needs to have a good season this year otherwise he will be gone. The best way for him to get going is by showing up tomorrow against Minnesota and try to get some sort of pressure against Kirk Cousins.
Overall, this is going to be a difficult game for the Falcons. They are going into a hostile environment and facing a good Minnesota team. In order for the Falcons to win this one, the offense will have to convert their opportunities in the red zone and defense will have to find ways to shutdown Dalvin Cook while also getting pressure on Kirk Cousins. Kickoff against the Vikings is tomorrow at 1:00 PM on Fox. Follow @BirdsInTheBenz on twitter throughout the game and for more news and updates on the Falcons.
By: Stewart Zwald @SDZwald041599