The year was 1999. The Atlanta Falcons were led by a quarterback who was picked 76th in the NFL draft, were ranked twenty-third in the league in offense and received devastating news in late September that their All-Pro running back, Jamaal Anderson, would be out indefinitely with a torn ACL—I don’t quite this is quite the “party” Prince was referring to.
Almost twelve years later, the dirty birds from the Peach State have cleaned up their act and put themselves in a position to not only win the NFC South, but stamp their ticket to the Super Bowl. For the past few years, the Falcons have groomed themselves to be one of the most lethal smash mouth football teams in their division. This approach has proved successful as they were ranked 5th in scoring last season.
Matt Ryan has the arm, the brains and the playmaker capabilities that have made him one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. In addition to having a threat at the quarterback position, Atlanta has added a plethora of skill position players that have become a nightmare for defenses. The Falcons recently acquired Julio Jones to beef up the cast of characters on the teams already explosive offense that include All-Pro receivers Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White.
That is all fine and well, except their week one match-up pins them against the Chicago Bears—a team that knows a thing or two about aggressive, in-your-face football. The past two times the Bears came to town, although the Falcons (and stud running back Michael Turner) came out victorious, they didn’t quite run away with it.
In order to defeat Chicago, Atlanta will have to keep Ryan off his back and the Bears’ defense on their toes. More than any other team, the Bears are known for their dominating pass rush. Between arguably one of the best linebackers ever in Brain Urlacher and a defensive line led by Julius Peppers, it is no wonder Chicago has opposing offenses squirming when they see the orange and blue take to the turf.
This Sunday’s game will be a Clash of the Giants between one of the most electrifying offenses and deadliest defenses. On the O-line however, the Falcons have a bit of an advantage as Chicago is still shopping for personal to sew up the gaps. In addition, Matt Ryan is one of the few QBs in the league that has yet to be sacked by the Bears’ hungry D.
It would appear on paper, that the scales would tip slightly in favor of the Falcons. But if we as fans know anything about the NFL (especially in Week 1, especially after this off-season) it’s that well, we don’t really know anything.
About the Author
Written by Nicole Flanary
I am a 23-year old female from Dayton, Ohio. I am without a shadow of a doubt one of the biggest football fans you will ever meet...no, seriously...I have a tattoo of a football and a flower on my shoulder. THAT big of a football fan. I ran track and cross country in college and sports have always been a huge part of my life. That being said, it was incredibly easy to decide what I wanted to "do with my life" when I got older. I combined the two things I am most passionate about in the world--sports and journalism-- and proceeded to pursue a career in sports entertainment. I have a pretty cold sense of humor, which I find translates well about 85% of the time. I apologize in advance for anything I say that may be taken as too blunt and/or brash. I am simply not big on sugar coating. Get. Your. Popcorn. Ready.