Falcons 50: Atlanta Falcons’ Biggest 2015 Games #3


Today we continue the “Falcons 50” countdown to the Atlanta Falcons’ first game of 2015. We move on our list of the Falcons’ biggest games this year, moving onto No. 3.

You can find the full list of “Falcons 50” posts here.

Falcons’ biggest 2015 games #3 – vs Philadelphia, Week 1

For the 2015 Atlanta Falcons, it doesn’t get much bigger than the season opener with the Philadelphia Eagles. Mike Smith’s tenure as head coach came crashing down in a humbling loss to the Carolina Panthers at the end of last season, and it’s time for Dan Quinn to bring in the new era.

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When these two teams grace the football field for the Monday Night Football curtain raiser, the time for talking will finally be over.

For both teams, hitting the ground running is important after an offseason of wholesale changes.

If you were to compare the 2015 Eagles with its predecessor, it would be almost unrecognizable.

This is still Chip Kelly’s team and we know how he likes to play football, so this won’t change. There has been a major overhaul with personnel, however, for good and bad.

On offense, Philadelphia welcome a new starting quarterback and running back, and there have been changes at the wide receiver position also.

It’s been a dizzying offseason for the Eagles.

RELATED: Atlanta Falcons schedule breakdown – Philadelphia Eagles

Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Evan Mathis are all gone. That statement alone may have made Eagles fans sick in January.

They haven’t done a bad job at acquiring talent, though.

Sam Bradford will take over the role as starting quarterback. Providing he can stay healthy he is an instant upgrade at the position. His health is a big concern, though.

The 2013 rushing champion may have departed, but he was replaced with the 2014 leading rusher in DeMarco Murray. Not only is Murray a great pickup, he also came from Dallas.

First round selection Nelson Agholor has plenty of potential and he will play a big role for Philadelphia moving forward at wide receiver.

May 28, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray (29) talks with the media during OTA

Defense needed to be addressed and it was. The McCoy trade to Buffalo sent Kiko Alonso the other way, and the Eagles also splashed out on former Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell. When I say splashed out, I mean overpaid, but he’s a good addition nonetheless.

The Falcons will be expecting better play from their defense this year after ranking dead last in the NFL in 2014. They will be put to the test right away against a talented Eagles team.

With all the changes in Philadelphia, Week 1 could be the best time to play the Eagles. This will be the first time Bradford, Murray and company will line up together in a regular season contest. They will need time to form chemistry and timing.

Yes, there are plenty of new pieces on defense for the Atlanta Falcons including a new scheme, but timing and rhythm is so important on offense and this is only established through time.

Fortunately for Atlanta, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have already built strong chemistry on the field. These two have played enough football together to be on the same page once the season opener rolls around, even if the two don’t see much preseason action.

Importantly, this game is at home.

For the Atlanta Falcons to find success this year and return to the playoffs, they need to make the Georgia Dome one of the toughest venues in football for opposing teams.

RELATED: How the Falcons can make the Georgia Dome a fortress

Being in a dome, Atlanta don’t benefit from local weather conditions as a team like Green Bay does in a frozen Lambeau Field or Denver in the high-altitude Mile High Stadium. But what the Falcons can benefit from is the noise.

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Enclosed in the dome, Atlanta Falcons fans make the stadium hostile and imposing or opponents who will often need to use a silent count.

This is the season opener, and both head coaches will be desperate to kick off the new season with a ‘one’ in the win column. Being at home with a new coach and philosophy makes this game huge for Atlanta.

In primetime against a very good football team, the Atlanta Falcons need to deliver. And who knows, maybe the result will have playoff implications down the stretch.