Falcons at Colts Preview

Trufant vs Colts
Photo credited to http://www.colts.com

The Atlanta Falcons are coming off of a big win over the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday and are looking to get another win against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are playing at home for the first time this season and are looking to build off their win last week against the Titans. The Falcons will be facing yet another strong offensive line as the Colts have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. However, the Colts do have some injuries that may hurt them in this one. Colts linebacker Darius Leonard who is the Colts best tackler is ruled out for Sunday as he is still in concussion protocol. Colts running back Marlon Mack is questionable with a calf injury and Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is questionable as well with a quad injury. Both Mack and Hilton were limited in practice on Friday. Falcons did rule out punter Matt Bosher for the game Sunday. Earlier this week the Falcons did sign punter Matt Wile who will likely be the punter for Sunday against the Colts.

As for the game Sunday, the Falcons need to take care of the ball better. In Week 1 against Minnesota the Falcons had 3 turnovers with two being interceptions by Matt Ryan and one being a fumble by Devonta Freeman. Last Sunday, Ryan threw 3 interceptions and now has 5 interceptions on the season. I expect Ryan to limit the turnovers as the Falcons receivers should be a big problem for the Colts secondary. Also the Falcons need to get Devonta Freeman going. Freeman has had his touches limited in both games and backup running back Ito Smith has gotten more touches as well as more yards than Freeman. At some point, the Falcons will need to get Freeman going so that the Falcons can have that balance attack on offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons defense needs to do what they did to the Eagles to the Colts. As stated earlier, this is another strong offensive line that the Falcons are facing. They did a good job with getting pressure on Carson Wentz and forcing 2 turnovers by Wentz. The Falcons need to do the same thing to Jacoby Brissett as they need to get pressure on him and try to force him into turning over the ball. The Falcons also need to shut down the run. One thing that the Colts have done very well on offense so far this season is running the ball. Falcons need to shut down the run like they did against the Eagles as Philadelphia was held to 49 rushing yards.

If the Falcons do what they need to do on both sides of the ball, then the Falcons should win. Again I expect this to be a close one, but the Falcons should get the win on the road. This would be a nice road win to get for the Falcons. Kickoff between the Falcons and Colts is at 1:00 on CBS. Follow @BirdsInTheBenz on twitter throughout the game and for more updates on all things Falcons.


By: Stewart Zwald @SDZwald041599


Falcons Hold On Against Eagles

Falcons Eagles Week 2
Photo credited to http://www.naplesnews.com

The Falcons were looking to bounce back against the Eagles last night after a flat out embarrassing performance in Minnesota. Falcons were able to bounce back last night with a 24-20 victory over the Eagles. This was the first victory for the Falcons over the Eagles since 2015. In the last 5 meetings between these two teams, the home team was won each game. Matt Ryan did not have a good game last night as he threw 3 interceptions, but he did throw for 320 yards and had 3 touchdowns. Julio Jones also had yet another good game against the Eagles as he had 106 yards receiving with 2 touchdowns on 5 receptions. Julio also had the game winning touchdown which was a screen play on a 4th and 3 where Jake Matthews and Mohamed Sanu got the two big blocks that Julio needed to take it 54 yards to the house. With Ryan’s game winning touchdown pass to Julio Jones, Ryan now has over 300 career touchdown passes and Julio Jones’ game winning touchdown reception officially broke Roddy White’s receiving yards record for the franchise.

Falcons defense also stepped up last night as they were able to get constant pressure on Carson Wentz as they were able to sack Wentz 3 times. They also caused 3 turnovers as Wentz was picked off twice by Desmond Trufant and recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff of the 2nd half. The defense also held Philadelphia to 49 yards rushing. Corner Isiah Oliver came up with the game winning tackle as on a 4th and 8 with 38 seconds left in the 4th Wentz completed a pass to tight end Zach Ertz but Oliver was there to prevent Ertz from getting the yard he needed to get the first and keep the game alive for the Eagles.

Overall, the Falcons looked very good after the Minnesota game. The defense was fast and physical and the offensive line did a good job last night. Matt Ryan though has now thrown 5 interceptions through the first two games of the season. Moving forward expect Ryan to clean up those interceptions. The other thing that the Falcons need to clean up is the penalty as they had well over 10 penalties against the Eagles. In the first half alone the Falcons had 8 penalties. Other than that the Falcons just need to be consistent and they will be fine. For them to hold on to the win last night should give them momentum moving forward and more importantly you prevented going 0-2 which would make things a bit more difficult for the Falcons.

Up next for the Falcons is the Indianapolis Colts on the road. Colts are off to a 1-1 start. Falcons will be facing yet another good offensive line and will need to shut down the run again as Marlon Mack has already rushed for 225 yards so far this season and averages 5 yards per carry. Falcons will also need to shut down Ty Hilton especially in the red zone as he has 3 of Brissett’s 5 touchdown passes so far this season. I expect this one to be close, but I think the Falcons will get the road win. Kickoff against the Colts is at 1:00 on Sunday and will be on CBS. Follow @BirdsInTheBenz on twitter throughout the game and for all updates on the Falcons.


By: Stewart Zwald @SDZwald041599

Falcons vs Eagles Preview

Photo credited to http://www.riseupreader.com and AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The Atlanta Falcons are looking to bounce back this week, after last Sunday’s horrific performance against the Vikings. The Eagles are coming in off a win against the Washington Redskins. A game where the Eagles struggled for the majority of the game, but still were able to find a way to win. The Eagles are a team that have given the Falcons issues over the past couple of meetings. In fact the last time the Falcons defeated the Eagles was back in 2015 on Monday Nigh Football which was also the opening game of the 2015 season for the Falcons. This was also the last time the Eagles were in Atlanta as the past 3 meetings have all been in Philadelphia and all 3 times the Eagles won.

The key for Atlanta in this game is to have a balance attack offensively. Really nothing worked well for the Falcons in terms of the running game. Ito Smith had 31 yards and Matt Ryan had 24 yards rushing. Freeman was limited and could not get anything going. He also fumbled on one of the Falcons drive and that was it for him against Minnesota. The Falcons offensive line got whipped last week and has another tall task going up against the Eagles front seven. Rookie right guard Chris Lindstrom broke his foot and had surgery on his foot. He played part of the Minnesota game with a broken foot and will be out for 8 weeks. He is not eligible to return until Week 10. Earlier this week Dan Quinn announced that Kaleb McGary and Jamon Brown will start Sunday. Offensive linemen Matt Gono and Wes Schweitzer may play Sunday, but they both have been limited this week in practice.

Defensively the Falcons will be looking to stop the run. Last Sunday, Vikings only threw the ball 10 times. The rest of the time the Vikings just ran the ball and Dalvin Cook absolutely torched the Falcons defense. The Eagles will be looking to do the same with Darren Sproles and Jordan Howard this week as they helped the Eagles to rush for 123 yards against the Redskins. Falcons need to be better against the run and find a way to get pressure on Carson Wentz. The Falcons were able to get some pressure on Cousins but not enough. Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley need to have some sort of pass rush for the Falcons to be successful.

The last 4 meetings between the Falcons and Eagles have all been very weird as well as very close. I expect this one to be close again and I will give the Falcons the edge in this one. It was mentioned this week that the offense could run some no huddle which is a strong part of Matt Ryan’s game. Also keep an eye on Julio Jones who just needs 102 more yards to break Roddy White’s franchise record for career receiving yards. Kickoff against the Eagles is 8:20 and will be NBC. Fans attending the game please arrive early and wear red! Also follow @BirdsInTheBenz on twitter throughout the game and for all updates on the Falcons.


By: Stewart Zwald @SDZwald041599

Falcons Drop the Opener to Minnesota

Falcons Vikings Football
Photo credited to pro32.ap.org

Falcons lost in Minnesota today 28-12. The game could not have gone worst for the Falcons as on the first play of the game Matt Ryan is sacked and ultimately the offense would go three an out. Then when Bosher was on to punt and it got blocked. On the second possession of the game for the Falcons, Ryan is pressured and forces the ball to Julio which is intercepted. On both the blocked punt and the interception, Minnesota capitalized with two touchdowns and quickly went up 14-0. On the Falcons 4th possession of the game, Ryan was leading the offense down the field until Devonta Freeman fumbled and that would lead to Minnesota’s third touchdown of the game to make 21-0. In the 3rd quarter, the Falcons got the ball all the way down to the Minnesota 3 and on 2nd & GOAL Matt Ryan was looking for the tight end Stocker, but Stocker stops running thinking the ball is being thrown away instead it was intercepted. The interception would lead to yet another Minnesota touchdown and it was 28-0. The Falcons were able to score twice in the 4th quarter as Matt Ryan threw two touchdown passes one to Calvin Ridley and one to Julio Jones. On both touchdowns, the Falcons attempted two 2-point conversions and both failed. Ryan finished the day 33 of 46 with 304 passing yards 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Ito smith lead the team in rushing with 31 yards on 6 carries. Freeman finished with 19 yards on 8 carries which was third behind Matt Ryan who rushed for 24 yards.

Overall, it was an awful day for the Falcons. Offensive line did not play well at all as Matt Ryan was under constant pressure. Jake Matthews struggled with the spin move and the team overall had way too many mental mistakes that killed drives or help give Minnesota the opportunity to score. At times the defense was able to get pressure on Kirk Cousins, but they could not stop the run as the Vikings had over 100 yards rushing in the 1st half. Dalvin Cook gave the Falcons issues all day and as long as he can stay healthy then Minnesota will definitely be in the playoffs.

There is plenty of room for improvement, but as Julio Jones stated after the game do not panic! This is just week 1 and we have 15 weeks left. This team has looked bad before in season openers like 2016 against Tampa Bay. Falcons will have their home opener next Sunday against the Eagles. The Eagles are coming off a win over the Redskins, but the Eagles did not look good against the Redskins and didn’t take a lead until later on in the game. Kickoff against the Eagles is at 8:20 PM. Follow @BirdsInTheBenz on twitter throughout the game and for all updates on the Falcons!


By: Stewart Zwald  @SDZwald041599

Falcons vs Vikings Preview

Freeman vs Vikings
Picture credited to http://www.startribune.com

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

Atlanta Falcons 2019 Season Preview

After last season’s disappointing 7-9 record, the Atlanta Falcons will look to get themselves back into the playoffs this season. Over this past offseason, the Falcons made a ton of changes and addressed some areas that really need it. Offensive line was a importance to Falcons, as over the past few seasons the Falcons have seen their franchise quarterback take way too many hits. Falcons believed that they have fixed their offensive line issues with as they drafted Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary in the first round of this years draft. They also signed four offensive line during this past offseason to help add depth which has also been an issue in the past.

On the defensive side, the Falcons made some changes as they did not bring back corner Robert Aflord and safety Brian Poole. Second year corner Isiah Oliver will be the one who the Falcons will look to take Alford’s spot, while Damontae Kazee who had a bring out year for the Falcons last season and was the only bright spot will take over in Poole’s roll for the Falcons. One big thing that the Falcons did with the defense this offseason was being able to keep Grady Jarrett. Ever since Super Bowl 51, Jarrett has really stepped out and has become a star for the Falcons. Keeping the defensive tackle out of Clemson was absolutely huge for the Falcons. The Falcons also were able to get a new deal done with linebacker Deion Jones who has become the leader on the defense.

Falcons also had a little experiment this past preseason at the kicking position as they did not bring back Matt Bryant. Giorgio Tavecchio was named the new kicker, but all throughout preseason struggled to hit field goals that Matt Bryant nailed all last season. Falcons did bring in former Minnesota Viking and Seattle Seahawk kicker Blair Walsh, but he did not get the job done either and was really there to get a fire lit under Tavecchio. Just this week, the Falcons signed Matt Bryant and released both Tavecchio and Walsh.

With the Falcons season upon us, I expect the Falcons to be very good this season. The Falcons do a have a difficult schedule this season, but if the defense can stay healthy then the Falcons can get themselves back into the playoffs. I do expect the offense to return to its form with Dirk Koetter returning as offensive coordinator and a strong running back core that includes a healthy Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith, Brian Hill, and rookie Qadree Ollison. To me, the healthy Falcons defense and the offense being back to form the Falcons will go 11-5 this season. The Falcons will also win the NFC South. Could this be the year the Falcons return to the Super Bowl? I am not to sure because of the Rams, who the Falcons play Week 7 in the Benz. Rams are the defending NFC champs and have that high scoring offense along with a pretty good defense led by the Aaron Donald. It will be interesting to see how the Falcons go up against them, but health is a big key for the Falcons this season and when they are at their best, the Falcons become one of the best teams in the NFC.

The 2019 season for the Falcons kicks off this Sunday at 1:00 on Fox as they will be on the road taking on the Minnesota Vikings. For all updates and news on the Falcons follow @BirdsInTheBenz on twitter.


By: Stewart Zwald  @SDZwald041599

The Birds are Back!

Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan | NFL.com

Tonight Football returns and your Atlanta Falcons have been chosen to open it with the Hall of Fame game versus the Denver Broncos.

Julio Jones announced he will sit the whole postseason and most Falcons starters won’t play this game but it’s still plenty of reasons to watch. The Falcons are 0-8 in their last 2 preseasons and even though they don’t matter we still want to see what change the Falcons made and how it will affect this season.

The offense and defensive line are full of position battles, with young and old players looking to solidify their spot on the team. Coach Dan Quinn claims he’s bringing a new mindset to the Falcons and with a couple years of mediocrity. Some think he might be coaching for his job. He brags about a lot of the young players developing tremendously and can’t wait to see them shine this season. With Dirk Koetter back at offensive coordinator and Dan Quinn running the defense,the preseason will be big to get our rhythm together.

A lot of analysts pick the Falcons to go far this season. We have loads of talent, our stars aren’t getting any younger and fans are getting impatient. With a difficult schedule to start we need to use preseason to get our rhythm. Once again the Falcons are 0-8 in their last 2 preseasons. I’m not saying any preseason game is a must win but we can’t go 0-4 again. It would be a record to go 0-4 in 3 straight preseasons. This is the year the Falcons can shock the league and it all starts tonight at 8pm at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium.

Evan Nix

Be sure to head to BirdsInTheBenz tonight for live coverage! 

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