Final Four Weeks
Week 14: @Los Angeles Rams
The Falcons will be one of eight teams to play at the Los Angeles Memorial Colosseum this season, against the newly minted Los Angeles Rams.
LA is a city of glamour, a city where stars are needed on the sports teams: Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Clayton Kershaw ect. Luckily for the city, the Rams come to town with a true superstar on their roster in the form of former UGA running back Todd Gurley.
Despite missing the first four games of the season last year, Gurley still finished third in the league in rushing yards (1106), and fifth in rushing touchdowns. He was one of only three players to crack 1000 yards rushing and 10 rushing touchdowns (Adrian Peterson; Devonta Freeman).
On defense Aaron Donald is a star, but there’s not much else there. Former number one CB Janoris Jenkins signed with the Giants this past offseason.
QB Jared Goff was the first overall pick in the draft, but whether or not he’s ready to be a starter in this league his rookie year remains a question.
Homer Outlook – The Rams look yet again like they’re going to be a team in that 7-9 or 8-8 range, in the absolute pit of mediocrity.
Todd Gurley is an absolute star, but that Rams offense looks poised to be very one dimensional. Jared Goff look like he still needs some seasoning before being ready to really help out that offense.
LA’s receiving corps, consisting of Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt as the most dangerous weapons, don’t intimidate any team.
Aaron Donald on the interior defensive line is an anchor, but the Rams have no answer for Atlanta’s passing game, led by Julio Jones.
Homer Prediction – Victory (9-4)
Objective Outlook – One can’t overlook the fact that Atlanta will need to make the cross country trip to California for this game. However, it will be their third cross country trip of the season, so they will have become somewhat used to it by week 14.
When looking at both teams’ rosters, the Rams have two of the top three players overall in Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley. The UGA product should be able to run all over the Falcons’ defense if the battle in the trenches doesn’t go Atlanta’s way.
An underwhelming passing game will be the downfall for the Rams, however. LA is trotting out a rookie QB and one of the worst WR corps in football. Atlanta should be able to stack the box against Gurley, like most teams will be doing against Los Angeles this season.
A terrible passing game last year resulted in the Rams having statistically the worst offense in football.
LA’s defense is also rather underwhelming: finishing 23rd overall in the NFL (one of the 10 worst). Aaron Donald is a beast but he can’t do it all by himself, on that side of the football.
Objective Prediction – Victory (5-8)
Week 15: vs. San Francisco 49ers
Both of these teams have fallen at warp speed since that NFC Championship game in the Georgia Dome, in 2012. The Falcons haven’t made the playoffs since then, while the 49ers made it back to that game in 2013, but have since collapsed.
QB Colin Kaepernick, who was thought of as being on the fast track to a legendary career, might be riding the bench this season: backing up former first round bust Blaine Gabbert.
San Francisco did beat Atlanta last season, while the Falcons were in the middle of the doldrums, after Dan Quinn opted to go with a conservative field goal call at the end of that game.
Chip Kelly has taken over head coaching duties in The City by the Bay.
Homer Outlook – To say this 49ers team is a far-cry from that squad that made back to back NFC Championship games (and one Superbowl) would be an understatement.
The defense collapsed on the back of retirements (Justin Smith, Patrick Willis), old age (Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner: who are no longer on the team), and just sheer stupidity (Aldon Smith).
Speaking of collapse, Colin Kaepernick’s fall from grace has been so spectacularly steep that one would hardly believe it. From starting in a Superbowl and being proclaimed as the next big thing to warming the bench behind Blaine Gabbert. Needless to say, the 49ers’ passing attack isn’t very intimidating.
The Falcons are playing at home against an inferior football team. There will be many games this season that will be hard to win, but this is not one of them.
Homer Prediction – Victory (10-4)
Objective Outlook – The one thing that can’t be overlooked here is that the 49ers beat the Falcons last season, 17-16, in Frisco. That was in the middle of Atlanta’s mid season cataclysm, and in large part a result the offense’s struggles in a new system.
The 49ers are still a team that was the second worst offensive team and fourth worst defensive team in football last season. Chip Kelly’s hire should help the offense, but San Francisco does not have the firepower to hang with the birds.
Objective Prediction – Victory (6-8)
Week 16: @Carolina Panthers
In a Christmas Eve special, the Atlanta Falcons will travel up I-85 for a meeting with the Panthers in Charlotte. This certainly might be a game with a lot on the line when we get to it.
Homer Outlook – The Falcons beat the Panthers in week 16 last season, but that was in the Georgia Dome. Overall, it’s hard to have a positive outlook on this game, especially after the birds lost 38-0 in the last trip to North Carolina’s capital.
Carolina has the talent advantage in this match-up, and the home-field advantage.
Homer Prediction – Defeat (10-5)
Objective Outlook – See above.
Objective Prediction – Defeat (6-9)
Week 17: vs. New Orleans Saints
Just like last season, the Falcons will play host to the New Orleans Saints in the final week of the regular season. No matter what the records are, this game will be a huge match when it comes to offseason bragging rights.
Homer Outlook – Just like how the Saints will have emotion on their side in the week 3 match-up this season, the Falcons will have the emotional advantage in this game: the last game to ever be played in the Georgia Dome.
If either of these teams have anything at all to play for in this game, the other will do absolutely everything in its power to ruin those chances at either the playoffs or at better playoff seeding: that’s what a rivalry is all about after all.
The records can be thrown out come week 17. But just like how the birds have a disadvantage in talent and venue against the Panthers week 16, they will have both of those advantages against the Saints in week 17. Get ready for an offseason of bragging, Falcons fans.
Homer Prediction – Victory (11-5)
Objective Outlook – When Drew Brees is slotted in at QB for the Saints, they always have a chance to beat the Falcons. You can look through the success Brees has had in his career against Atlanta on page 1 of this article.
In fact, you can see everything that needs to be said about this match-up on page 1 of this article, in the “week 3” portion.
I objectively predicted the Saints winning that week 3 game because they will have the home-field advantage and the raw emotion on their side. In week 17, however, it’s the Falcons who will have both the home-field and the emotional advantage.
Objective Prediction – Victory (7-9)
So there you have it, my official Atlanta Falcons 2016 season predictions, and my reasoning for it all: both objective and as a fan.
My heart says 11-5, while my head says 7-9. Hopefully Atlanta’s record will reflect something a lot close to the former, as opposed to the ladder.
What do you think Atlanta’s record will be this season?