Atlanta Falcons: Injuries could play a deciding role against the Cowboys

The Atlanta Falcons may see some help on the injury front this Sunday.

Both the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys are in what seems to be a must-win game this Sunday. Neither team wants to start 0-2 and the Falcons haven’t had such a start since the 2007 season.

The Atlanta Falcons have a head coach that is sitting on a piping hot seat and Mike McCarthy is trying to please a never-to-be-pleased fan base.  However, key injuries are at play that can alter the dynamic of each team. The Falcons are at risk of losing all-pro left tackle Jake Matthews and will be without Kendall Sheffield for the second consecutive week.

The Cowboys have one of the NFL’s elite defensive lines, so the potential loss of Matthews makes me wary of the protection of Matt Ryan. The offensive line was praised for how well they held up against the Seahawks in week 1, but the Seahawks already had a pass rush that was near the bottom of the league in 2019, and that was with Clowney in the lineup.

So with or without Matthews in the lineup, the offensive line needs to truly prove they are for real and that week 1 wasn’t a fluke. Obviously, the loss of Matthews makes this task much harder than what it already would’ve been. I’m really not confident that Matt Gono can fend off Aldon Smith, who had a stellar Week 1 against the Rams on Sunday night.

The Atlanta Falcons defense has to stay healthy

What is more concerning is that the Atlanta Falcons will once again be without cornerback Kendall Sheffield. The Falcons defensive secondary got torched in Week 1 vs Seattle, and whether or not you place the blame on Raheem Morris’s lack of preparation for the Seattle passing attack or the players themselves, the entire unit will need to be on their P’s and Q’s if they wish to slow down the Cowboys passing attack.

On the flip side, Dallas will walk into the Week 2 contest with a mountain of impact injuries that can slow them down. Star linebacker Leighton Vander Esch suffered a broken clavicle, tight end Blake Jarwin saw his season end with a knee injury, offensive tackle La’el Collins is our with a hip injury and linebacker Sean Lee is our with hernia surgery.

Those are just the guaranteed outs for Week 2. In addition, La’el Collins back up, Tyron Smith, is also questionable to play with a neck injury. Neither him nor, cornerback Anthony Brown suited up for practice on Friday.

The right side of the offensive line will be one of the key focal points for the Atlanta Falcons pass rush. Takk will most likely be up against the third or fourth tackle on the Cowboy roster.

For a guy playing on a contract year, having back to back good games could be huge for him going forward. Sure the level of competition he will have seen isn’t anything to talk about, but if it builds his confidence, I’m all for it.

Amari Cooper was also limited in practice this week, but not too heavy of a concern to think he will miss game-time action. The same goes for Julio Jones.

Next: Matt Ryan needs to win versus Cowboys as much as anyone

Also, the loss of key linebackers, Vander Esch and Lee, opens up the middle of the field for the Atlanta Falcons passing game. This could mean another huge day for both Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, back to back weeks with stand out performances.