Tonight the Atlanta Falcons have a true test concerning how far they will go in the 2013 season, as they take on the New York Jets at the Georgia Dome with kickoff set for 8:30 p.m. EST as part of ESPN’s Monday Night Football game of the week.
The Falcons have been nothing short of disappointing through four games, as the team sits at 1-3 with losses to the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, and the New England Patriots. Although this season has been full of tough times and heart-wrenching losses, Atlanta is set to get things going tonight against a week New York Jets’ squad that has a rookie quarterback in Geno Smith and a 2-2 record, including a 38-13 loss at the hands of the Tennessee Titans last week; that is, if the Falcons play like most believe they are capable of doing.
Atlanta has struggled throughout the season–and, let’s be honest, throughout the Mike Smith era–at keeping their foot on the gas as far as running their offense, as the squad has had many a comfortable lead that soon fell to the wayside due to conservative play-calling. The Falcons should have no problem taking the lead on the Jets tonight, but it will be maintaining that advantage and playing as if the score is tied that will be crucial. Quarterback Matt Ryan has had a nice season through four games (1,330 yards with 8 TDs and 3 INTs), so it is evident the Falcons can pass the ball around with no trouble. It may cause some issues for Jets head coach Rex Ryan, but if Atlanta wants to re-gain the respect from the rest of the NFL, they must come out with guns blazing for four quarters of football.
Defensively, the Falcons have to play tighter pass coverage, something that led to their loss last Sunday night against the New England Patriots. Time and time again future Hall of Famer Tom Brady picked Atlanta’s secondary apart, leaving some Falcons’ fans wondering if Dunta Robinson was still “covering” opposing wide receivers. Although Smith, the second round pick out of West Virginia, is by no means on the same level as Brady, he is very capable of hurting the Falcons if the defense just gives him big-play opportunities, something the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Buffalo Bills found out earlier in the season. Combine tight coverage against the passing game and just a hint of pressure from the likes of defensive end Osi Umenyiora, and the result should be at least one big turnover courtesy of the J-E-T-S.
Game Prediction: The Atlanta Falcons rekindle the excitement that had spread across Dirty Bird Nation in the preseason, 1-3 record be darned. Although New York keeps the Falcons’ humbled through the first quarter, Atlanta gets it going in the second quarter, putting up seventeen points thanks to two touchdown passes from Ryan (one to Tony Gonzalez, one to Harry Douglas) and a field goal from Matt Bryant. Smith does his part to keep it close, but an interception at the start of the third quarter gives Atlanta the chance to put the game away, which they do with a short rushing touchdown from Jacquizz Rodgers (no pun intended). New York makes a bit of a comeback in the fourth quarter, but it is not enough to defeat the Falcons on this night. Final Score New York Jets 20, Atlanta Falcons 34
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