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Atlanta Falcons

The First Quarter Of The 2016 Season

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It seems like only yesterday the Denver Broncos squeaked out a 21-20 victory versus the Carolina Panthers. Heading into Week 5, the 2016 campaign is as unpredictable as ever. Here are three things to take away through the first quarter of the season.

Return of the Purple People Eaters?

When Teddy Bridgewater just days before kickoff, the Minnesota Vikings season was in jeopardy. When Adrian Peterson went down on September 18th  against the Green Bay Packers, their season was all but over. Or so we thought.

The Vikings defense were able to limit the Packers to just fourteen points to the surprise of everyone. Sam Bradford was able to generate enough points to seal the win in their home opener.

The following week, they turned the tables against the Carolina Panthers. After falling behind 10-2 in the first quarter, the defense the ball out of Kelvin Benjamin’ hands and the Panthers scoreless for the rest of the game. Bradford and company pounded the defense into submission in route to the Panthers’ first home loss since November 2014. The Vikings trounced the New York Giants  to be 4-0 on the season at the quarter point.

It’s too early to tell if the Vikings will win the division again as they don’t have Bridgewater and Peterson at the helm. But it looks promising as their defense has held 3 Super Bowl quarterbacks to fourteen or less points and a competent offense. If they can steady the course through the season, the Purple Eaters may rule the Old Norse once again.

Carolina Blues

We chalked up the season opener loss against the Denver Broncos to simply losing to a better team. But in the weeks since that game, the Carolina Panthers don’t seem like themselves.

The Panthers looked like their old selves against a lesser team in the San Francisco 49ers. But the arrival of the Vikings in week 3 soon changed their tune.

The Vikings, like the Broncos, got physical with the Panthers which opened a can of works for the home team. Cam Newton turned the ball over three times and was shut out for the remainder of the game. Things only got worse the following week.

In a feat that surprised many, the vaunted Panthers defense had no answer for Julio Jones as he went 12 receptions for 300 yards. The Panthers even had the Falcons’ bottom tier defense looking somewhat competent as they couldn’t get into a rhythm. A Newton-less Panthers team fell to 1-3 in an embarrassing lost.

The Panthers are going into week 5 with  the possibly of Newton being out due to a concussion. To complicate the situation, they’re starting two rookie cornerbacks against stellar tight end Mike Evans. Monday night will show us if the Panthers will keep it pounding or suffer the same fate as previous Super Bowl runner-ups.

Rookies of the Quarter

Everyone expected Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz to start the season due to injuries and trades. No one expected them to come out the gate with a winning record.

Wentz put a solid performance against the Cleveland Browns at home and had a good showing versus the Bears. But his coming out party came against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He threw for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns to assist the Eagles upsetting the Steelers 34-3. What made the game even more impressive is that Wentz registered zero turnovers against the stout Steelers defense.

Prescott almost managed to win his season opener against the Giants had it not been for bad clock management in the closing minutes of game. But he made up for that as he marched the Dallas Cowboys down the field for the game-winning touchdown against the Washington Redskins. Not surprisingly, he was able to handle the Chicago Bears with relative ease but his resolve became apparent against the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday. Down 14-0 early, Prescott led a comeback that resulted in the Cowboys third straight win and growing support from Cowboys fans for the young quarterback.

When it comes to rookie quarterbacks, it’s far too early to know if Wentz and Prescott will pan out in this difficult league. But if they can continue to learn and grow, we may see both players shine beyond the 2016 season.

The first quarter of the 2016 season has given us good teams that have gone bad and bad teams that have become good. One can only imagine what the next four weeks will bring NFL fans everywhere.

As you can tell, I love sports especially football. I love to write about and also debate because I like to see and understand others perspective in my quest to be a better writer and one day a sports broadcaster. I hope you enjoy my articles as much as I enjoy writing them. And remember, live long and prosper b

Atlanta Falcons

Under Armour, Julio Jones Part Ways with One Year Left On Contract

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Under Armour and Atlanta Falcons superstar wide receiver Julio Jones have officially mutually parted ways with a year remaining on their contract.

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Under Armour spokesperson Dean Stoyer confirmed on Saturday that Jones had left the brand after Jones was sporting Nike shoes on the sideline during Friday’s preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Per Rovell, Jones  has worn Under Armour cleats during Falcons’ training camp because he still felt more comfortable in the shoes after exploring other brands, adding that Jones can cover up the logo since there’s no longer a deal in place between the brand and the elite receiver.

Jones initially signed with Under Armour back in 2011 prior to being selected with the 6th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by Atlanta.

As of this writing, Jones has not inked a new deal with an apparel brand.

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Atlanta Falcons

Philadelphia, The City of Underdogs

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This Saturday, January 13th, the NFC’s top seeded Philadelphia Eagles will be kicking off the NFL’s Divisional Playoff Round against the defending NFC Champions,  the Atlanta Falcons.  The road to the Super Bowl has to come through South Philadelphia and the fans of the Eagles are ready to make their impact.  

These blue-collar, tough-love fans may have even more motivation this weekend to be the notoriously loud fan base that they are.  The Eagles are entering the game in historical fashion,  as the first ever number 1 seed in the NFL playoffs to be considered as home underdogs. The Falcons are coming into South Philly as 2.5 point favorites.  

Historically,  the Birds have had no problem dealing with being chosen the home underdog in the playoffs.  They have been chosen as home underdogs three previous occasions in 1981 against the Detroit Lions, 1995 against the Dallas Cowboys, and most recently in 2000 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Each of these underdog performances lead to dominant wins for the Eagles,  winning by at least two possessions each time and by an average of 17 points.

The city of Brotherly Love is no stranger to being considered the underdog across all realms of sports and perhaps may even feel more comfortable as the underdog.  But there is no doubt that it still feels like a Rocky Balboa left-hook to the jaw to be the first ever number one seed chosen as underdogs.  Many players have spoken out about feeling disrespected by the sports world and it’s clear that the odds-makers are feeding the Eagles even more motivation for Saturday.  

These two teams are somewhat familiar to each other,  having played last year at Lincoln Financial Field.  Last year,  the Atlanta Falcons had a very dominant season with the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, Matt Ryan, carrying the Falcons all the way to a half time Super Bowl victory.  I think we all know what happened in the second half of last year’s Super Bowl.  

During this triumphant year for Ryan and the Falcons,  they had major issues when they came to The Linc.  Their high powered, top of the NFL offense was held to only 15 points.  Julio Jones,  the Falcons top Wide Receiver,  was able to have a good day recording 10 receptions for 135 yards,  but beyond that,  the Falcons offense was put on lock.

The Eagles defense held the Falcons to a total of 48 rushing yards,  leaving it up to Matt Ryan to try and beat the Birds through the air.  As for the Eagles offense,  Ryan Mathews had one of his best games as an Eagle rushing for 109 yards and two trips to the end-zone.  Along with Mathews’ day,  the Eagles ran for a total of 208 yards,  having their way with the Falcons defense.  

This year,  the Falcons have a new Defensive Coordinator in Marquand Manuel and have improved to become a top-10 rush defense in the NFL and just shut down one of the top running backs in the NFL last week when they faced Todd Gurley.  

This Divisional Round match-up will come down to the Eagles ability to run the ball against the Atlanta Falcons defense.  Without the Pro Bowl,  All-Pro Second Team quarterback Carson Wentz,  the Eagles offense can not expect too much out of Nick Foles.

The Birds will have to be carried by mid-season acquisition,  Jay Ajayi to run the ball early and often as well as fellow bruising running back,  LeGarrette Blount,  to slowly wear down the Falcons defense.  The Eagles Defense will be challenged again by the Falcons offense filled with studs.

By shutting down the Falcons rush attack last year,  the Birds should be very confident coming into Saturday’s match-up,  especially with all the improvements they have along their defensive line.  The Eagles come in as the number 1 rated rush defense in the NFL and will likely force Matt Ryan to beat their new and improved 2017 secondary.

I believe with the newly added motivation for the City of Philadelphia as well as for the players themselves,  the Eagles will win a nail-biter in South Philly,  another Jake Elliott game-winner,  17-14.  

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Arizona Cardinals

2018 Opponents Set For Each NFL Team

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Now that the 2017 regular season in the books, it’s time to look forward to the 2018 season right?

Just like eating at some of the top restaurants in the nation, it’s good to know what’s on your plate next, regardless of how far away you are from your next dish.

Here is the rundown of the opponents for each NFL team in 2018:

AFC EAST

 

New England Patriots
Home: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings
Away: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans

Buffalo Bills
Home: Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans
Away: Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings

Miami Dolphins
Home: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans
Away: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets
Home: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings
Away: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans

AFC NORTH

 

Pittsburgh Steelers
Home: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots
Away: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Baltimore Ravens
Home: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Away: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans

Cincinnati Bengals
Home: Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Away: Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers

Cleveland Browns
Home: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets
Away: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

AFC SOUTH

 

Jacksonville Jaguars
Home: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins
Away: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants

Tennessee Titans
Home: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
Away: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants

Indianapolis Colts
Home: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants
Away: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins

Houston Texans
Home: Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants
Away: Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins

AFC WEST

 

Kansas City Chiefs
Home: Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers
Away: Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks

Los Angeles Chargers
Home: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans
Away: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks

Oakland Raiders
Home: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks
Away: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers

Denver Broncos
Home: Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks
Away: Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers

NFC EAST

 

Philadelphia Eagles
Home: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings
Away: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans

Dallas Cowboys
Home: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans
Away: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks

Washington Redskins
Home: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts
Away: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans

New York Giants
Home: Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans
Away: Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers

NFC NORTH

 

Minnesota Vikings
Home: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers
Away: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks

Detroit Lions
Home: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks
Away: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers

Green Bay Packers
Home: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers
Away: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins

Chicago Bears
Home: Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Away: Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers

NFC SOUTH

 

New Orleans Saints
Home: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins
Away: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants

Carolina Panthers
Home: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks
Away: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins

Atlanta Falcons
Home: Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants
Away: Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Home: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins
Away: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants

NFC WEST

 

Los Angeles Rams
Home: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles
Away: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders

Seattle Seahawks
Home: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings
Away: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders

Arizona Cardinals
Home: Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins
Away: Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco 49ers
Home: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders
Away: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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