The Atlanta Falcons are coming off a 2010 season that saw the franchise reach heights it is not accustom to seeing in their 45 year history. A 13-3 mark, Division winners, the NFC number one seed, and career years by stars Matt Ryan and Roddy White. And let’s not forget the memorable ‘Rise Up’ campaign headlined by Samuel L. Jackson. Unfortunately, all the promise of that season came to an abrupt end with a blow out defeat in the Georgia Dome at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
But the great thing about sports is that no matter what happened last season, there is the promise of a new season (well…depending on the result of the labor negotiations between the players and owners). Let’s just assume, Sunday couch warriors, that there is indeed a full season of football. Here is my humble forecast for the Dirty Birds.
Sept. 11: Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears – Oh, how I would’ve loved to have seen this match up for the NFC Championship Game last year. But my prediction remains the same had that game actually happened. WIN
Sept. 18: Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons – Michael Vick returning to the Georgia Dome will make a great headline for this NBC Sunday Night Football game. If he and DeSean Jackson are on, it will make for a long night. But I’m sticking with the Falcons in this one. WIN
Sept. 25: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tampa QB Josh Freeman has improved by leaps and bounds every year he has been in the league and I can see the Bucs pulling this one out at home. LOSS
Oct. 2: Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks – Lots of questions still swirl around Seattle, especially at QB. Same result as last year when the Falcon went into Qwest Field. WIN
Oct. 9: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons still need to show they are better than the Packers. I hope they can pull off the upset, but my gut says LOSS.
Oct. 16: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons – The Panthers have to be better than last year’s horrendous season but still not good enough to challenge the better teams. WIN
Oct. 23: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions – I think the Lions will be better than they have been and even though it is on the road I think this is a very winnable game. WIN
Nov. 6: Atlanta Falcons at Indianapolis Colts – Peyton Manning may not be the same player who has dominated for the last decade, but the Colts are always tough to beat at home. LOSS
Nov. 13: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons – Falcons get revenge for their loss last year at home in prime time to the Saints. WIN
Nov. 20: Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons – For the first time in, well, forever, the Titans will not be lead by Jeff Fisher. Looks to be a rebuilding year for them. WIN
Nov. 27: Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons – Who knows who will succeed Brett Farve on this team. Home game, should be in the victory column. WIN
Dec. 4: Atlanta Falcons at Houston Texans – Texans have produced only one winning season and underperformed last year. Although I do like their QB, former Falcon Matt Schaub. WIN
Dec. 11: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers – Doesn’t matter if it’s home or away with the Panthers. WIN
Dec. 15: Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons – This is a NFL Network nationwide game. I think the Falcons will shine in this game like last year’s against the Baltimore Ravens. WIN
Dec. 26: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints – Last season’s thrilling overtime win in the Super Dome will be hard to duplicate. LOSS
January 1, 2012: Tamp Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons – This could be a dangerous game as the Bucs may be trying to secure one of the last play-off spots. But I still like to Dome-field advantage. WIN
So there you have it. Before head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons had never even achieved back-to-back winning seasons. The 2011 season will see them post their fourth consecutive winning season and hopefully go far in the postseason.