With a 35-28 win over the Raiders in Oakland, the Atlanta Falcons improved to 1-1.
Atlanta was able to overcome the frustrating defensive breakdowns and penalties, as well as the offensive red zone struggles, in their second game in Oakland to take home a victory.
Matt Ryan shined once again, throwing for 396 yards and 3 touchdowns. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman split carries, with Freeman gaining 93 of the 139 total rushing yards for the Falcons. On the defensive side of the ball, Kemal
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On the defensive side of the ball, Kemal Ishmael played lights out. The young safety out of UCF recorded 13 solo tackles, including key stops on third down. Also, the fan-favorite linebacker Sean Weatherspoon was in on the action, logging 8 solo tackles. Vic Beasley recorded his first “sack” of the season. Technically, he only forced Derek Carr out of bounds for no gain, but the play was still recorded as a sack.
Overall, the Falcons looked better against the Raiders than they did against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1. However, the same frustrating problems from last week held the Falcons back from a more comfortable victory.
The offense still struggled in the red zone, with a Matt Ryan pick inside the 20 and the offense settling for field goals on multiple drives. The defense also made mistakes. Robert Alford was flagged for pass interference on a drive-ending interception, that ultimately led to Oakland score. Also, a 12-men-on-the-field penalty on third down allowed an Oakland drive to continue and ultimately score a touchdown.
The Falcons showed that they can last through adversity and overcome their mistakes, but in some games (like Week 1 vs. Tampa Bay) the mistakes will be too great to overcome. With a tough schedule ahead, it’s important that the Falcons eliminate these small errors. One play can be the difference between a W and a L on the schedule.
Speaking of the schedule, let’s take a look:
vs. TB L 31-24
@ OAK W 35-28
That’s one loaded schedule. Traveling to Denver and Seattle in back to back games is almost unfair.
At the beginning of the season, most predicted the Falcons to perform around the same level as last year. Considering their difficult schedule and their divisional opponents, 9-7 or 8-8 again seemed reasonable. And now that we have tangible evidence to base a prediction on, that still looks like a fair estimate for the season.
The Falcons showed they have what it takes to stay in games, and the offense can certainly put up points and yards. But if the defense can’t stop making poorly timed penalties and if the offense can’t convert in the red zone, it’s gonna be a long season.
I predict the Falcons to go 9-7. However, I hope that the Dirty Birds can show me that they’re better than a wildcard team.