I think this guy still has a lot in the tank, and when you look at the production of all the new tight ends in the league, Tony is still the 600 pound gorilla in the room. Do you think that Winslow, or Vernon Davis are going to put up the numbers that this guy will, this year? Tony Gonzalez is one of the best TE in the history of the game, and I love the fact that the media has grown tired of this consistent performer. It must be really boring for them to realize that the new age of TE is not panning out the way Tony G has, and guess what now he is on a offensively strong team. With this move I really see the Falcons offense being a force to be reckoned with and I will be drafting Matt Ryan this year as my fantasy stud!
I will be the first to admit that I just do not like Tim Tebow. I absolutely want to vomit every time he hits the pull up jumper down on the goal line. Until today I thought he would not make much of a career in the NFL either. However, last night my opinion began to change a bit. Certainly not because the Fox broadcasters convinced me he is the Messiah. (Were they terrible or what?) As I watched Percy Harvin bust that long run to put the Gators back in business it made me think about Adrian Peterson and this year’s NFL playoffs. All year long we had to listen to grumblings about the Vikings being a Super Bowl contender if they had a QB. So I thought to myself who are they going to find that could get them over the hump? They are built to win now. They need a leader on that offense and a veteran is just not going to be available to them and Tavaris Jackson will never be that guy. And I have news for you, Sam Bradford and the rest of the nation’s would-be rookie class of QB’s are no where near the level of last year’s draft class. So forget another Matt Ryan/Joe Flacco type playoff run. Then as the Gator offense got rolling I thought of Vince Youngs performance in both Rose Bowls and wondered if Jeff Fisher wouldn’t roll out the “Wildcat” this weekend with Vince against the Baltimore Ravens.
Then it hit me. Tebow to the Vikings. Just like that. I think he would be the perfect fit for the Vikings offense. He could run that offense all day with Adrian Peterson behind him or beside him. He easily becomes the leader of that offense and probably the team. He is perfect for the role. He would not have to worry about passing the ball all that much. With that defense and that run game behind that offensive line try to imagine having to stop both he and Peterson every down. Thrown in a short passing game the occasional deep ball and a pull up jumper here and there, you’ve got something. No?
The first game of Wild-Card Weekend features two teams that I’m sure many people would argue are “one-and-done” teams. However, the fact is, one of these one-and-doners will definitely be advancing with the question of course being who.
The Atlanta Falcons do not have too much upside defensively. The only standout player this season was John Abraham who accounted for 47% of Atlanta’s 35 sacks with 16.5 total. That isn’t very good. That means of the other typical sackers on a standard NFL team, the three linebackers, the other defensive end, and perhaps the strong safety in some cases would have produced an average of 3.8 sacks a-piece. Too bad for the Falcons that Mr. Milloy, the strong safety, had none. Their 21st ranked pass defense gave up 220.4 yards per game, and their 25th ranked run D gave up 127.5 yards per game.
That type of passing defense won’t bode well against a quarterback in Kurt Warner who threw for over 4,500 yards this season. As far as the Falcons run defense goes, I guess that isn’t too bad as the Cardinals rush offense was good for last with 73.6 yards per game, meaning if they just don’t screw up any assignments and miss any tackles, they should be able to post a solid to admirable effort against the run.
But Edgerin James against the Seahawks this week amassed 100 yards on 14 carries. He has been off this season, but he perhaps could be trying to prove that he still has some gas left in the tank since that was his first game in a while, and if there was ever a game for him to do so, this could be it. And I know the argument can be that he did it against Seattle, but with a 25th ranked run defense, the Falcons aren’t much better. Who knows? Maybe the Cards will run a two-back system with James and Tim Hightower, and they could stay fresh and get a couple decent gainers here and there.
On the flipside of things, the Cardinals defense gave up 26.6 points per game. Most teams wouldn’t even stand a chance at being in contention in the finals weeks of most regular NFL seasons with that kind of defense, but luckily for the Cardinals, they played in a bad division. On top of that, Arizona’s pass D was 22nd giving up 221.2 yards per game. But the worst part is that their run defense, who faces Michael Turner (1,699 yards and 2nd in the NFL), was 16th giving up 110.2 yards per game.
The Falcons MO all year has been to give the ball to Turner as much as possible so that Matt Ryan only needs to make 2-3 good or big plays a game, usually to Roddy White who was fourth among all wide receivers with 1,382 yards and had seven of Ryan’s 16 total TDs.
The bottom line is, with the virtually identical defenses of both teams, if the Matt Ryan-led Falcons had more experience under their belt, this game would have had the makings for an Atlanta win as they could have grinded out the run game and kept the passes to a minimum as the Arizona run game and run defense has basically been non-existent for most of the season.
However… I just have to go with Kurt Warner’s will, experience, two stud wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, and the home crowd to come out on top. The tandem of Boldin and Fitzgerald are enough to make up for not having a running game against a young team like Atlanta. I think Matt Ryan is just too young to take this game, and for all the criticism that the Cardinals have received in losing four of their last five games, it is almost like Kurt Warner gets to start off fresh again. And I say this because in their recent losses, the Cardinals were getting blown out early to the point where Warner didn’t need to bother even trying the rest of whatever game they were playing. And if convention says that players need to stay hot going into the post season, I don’t see that as being the case here with Kurt Warner.
Basically, both teams are not looking like Super Bowl contenders, and ultimately, when it comes down to two “one-and-done” type teams, you gotta go with the guys playing at home and especially with having the more experienced quarterback. Cardinals win.
One thing pissing me off big time after week 16 is the following… why is no one mentioning that the Falcons have a chance to lock up the number two seed in the NFL? If The Falcons accomplish the highly un-venerable task of defeating the waste-filled Saint Louis Rams in Atlanta this weekend, and the Carolina Panthers are defeated in New Orleans next week, the Atlanta Falcons end up winning the NFC South. We already know that the Giants have locked up the top seed by beating Carolina in OT Sunday night, but the Cardinals at best can finish 9-7 in the NFC West, and the Bears or Vikings can only finish at 10-6 to win the NFC North. What does this mean? Either the Falcons or Panthers are guaranteed the two seed.
But why is no one talking about it? Because every dumb analyst has it in their mind that the Falcons wonderful turn-around in the post Michael Vick mortem was simply in clinching their Wild Card berth. But hello! They can even get a bye! That would be totally huge!
Not only do they overcome last year’s fiasco and make the playoffs with a rookie QB, but they now have a chance to put themselves in a highly viable position of reaching a Super Bowl with one home win and one road win, as long as the Giants win their first game. I mean, geez, they could end up hosting the NFC Championship if the Giants lose their first game!
Someone please talk about it. I’ve watched PTI, Sports Center, and heard every FOX, CBS, and NBC analyst and commentator and not one of them has thought about this. It pisses me off and I almost hope to god that the Falcons get the two seed to see if they all have dumb looks on their faces.
Carolina… pleeeeease lose. I already know the Falcons have the Rams game in their back pocket, so I’m not worried about you. Later.