Thursday, September 17, 2009

Falcon Keys To Victory

The Falcons seem to be meeting the Carolina Panthers at the right time. Atlanta is fresh off a 19-7 relatively easy win over Miami and the Panthers are coming off of a 38-10 thumping from the Iggles. Add that to the fact that Matty Ice is 8-1 in his career starts at the Georgia Dome and you have to think the odds are with the Falcons this week. That being said it feels like Panthers backs are against the wall so they should come out ready for a war. Here are my main keys to victory for the Falcons this week:

1. STRIKE EARLY- The Panthers are doubting themselves after last week when they gained only 169 yards of total offense and turned the ball over 7 times (5 interceptions and 2 fumbles). The Falcons need to get on top of the Panthers early so the Panthers continue to doubt themselves. John Fox's Approval Rating (according to Sports Nation) is at a league low 15% and Jake Delhomme is in a career threatening funk. The Falcons need to get up early on Panthers (much like they did on the Fins last week) and suck away their will to win and compete.

2. ABE AND THE BEER MAN- Last week John Abraham and Kroy Biermann combined for 4 sacks and 1 Forced Fumble on Chad Pennington. These two guys (and Jamaal Anderson and Chauncey Davis if you are listening) need to continue to get to the Quarterback and make plays. The more time these guys spend in the backfield the less time for Steve Smith to take advantage of our secondary.

3. LINE BACKER PLAY- The biggest surprise last week might have been how well our linebacker crew played last week. They didn't just play a good game they played a great game. Curtis Lofton, Stephen Nicholas and Mike Peterson combined for 24 tackles, 2 Forced Fumbles and 1 Interception. AND they laid the wood on some of the Dolphin offensive players. This was a far cry from last year when our Safety, Erik Coleman, was near the top of the team in tackles. The Linebackers got it done last week. They need to continue to play with the enthusiasm, heart, hustle and grit that they did last week. They (along with Abe and The Beer Man) are the reason that the weak secondary was not tested. Last year the Linebacker crew was decent but they didn't make game changing plays. Last week the Linebacker crew made game changing plays. We need more of that this week against a suddenly turnover prone Panthers offense.

4. OFFENSIVE BALANCE- Last week the Falcons threw for 213 yards but only rushed for 68 (on 2.5 ypc). The Falcons need to be more balanced offensively. I don't want Michael Turner carrying the ball 365 times like last year but we need a better mix of pass and run. The Falcons have a ton of weapons on offense- Matty Ice, The Burner, Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, Michael Jenkins and Jerious Norwood. Matty Ice did a good job of spreading the football around through the air last week once he got on track after a so-so first quarter. Add a solid ground game of Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood and the Falcons are going to be tough to stop this year. Another benefit of offensive balance is that the offense will sustain drives longer and keep the defense off the field.

The Falcons fan base is really confident going into this game based on the way we've played at home during the Mike Smith era and the flop that the Panthers have experienced over the last two games. The Falcons need this win as we have the New England Brady's coming up in Week Three.

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