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Atlanta Falcons

Fate Of Atlanta Falcons Resting Solely On Matt Ryan

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Ryan versus Seahawks

 

Throughout his nine-year NFL career, Atlanta Falcons’ starting quarterback Matt Ryan has been overshadowed by big-name quarterbacks who’ve proven themselves in the post-season such as New England’s Tom Brady, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, and both Manning brothers. This season however, not even a trio of future hall-of-famers have managed to out-shine Atlanta’s star signal-caller.

In his first playoff appearance in four years, Ryan came through with another M.VP.-like performance to guide Atlanta past the Seattle Seahawks 36-20 in last Saturday’s NFC divisional showdown, finishing with 338 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a passer rating rating of 125.7. Following what was easily one of the most significant wins of his career, Ryan told reporters that the entire offense deserved credit for dropping 36 points on Seattle’s defense.

”I thought we played well today,” said Ryan via ESPN. ”I did. I thought we had a really good plan all week. [Offensive Coordinator] Kyle [Shanahan] did a good job of letting us know what he expected from us, and what he wanted us to do, and how we could win the game. I was proud of how the guys went out there and executed.”

Prior to the Falcons’ first playoff win since they ended Seattle’s season following the 2012 campaign, the knock on Ryan had been his inability to win when it matters most—evidenced by the 1-4 playoff record that followed him into last weekend’s start. But Ryan wasn’t fazed by Richard Sherman and Seattle’s often-stout secondary, and he’s the reason that Atlanta will play in its fourth NFC Championship game in franchise history when it hosts the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon.

Recently chosen as the NFC South Comeback Player Of The Year by ESPN’s NFL Nation, Ryan recovered from an off year in 2015, in which the Falcons finished just 8-8, to lead Atlanta to its first wining season since 2012. However, Ryan was rarely the problem during those losing efforts, and now that the Falcons have shed the majority of their shortcomings there’s reason to believe that this is his best shot at a Super Bowl.

Unfortunately for Ryan, the other three remaining playoff quarterbacks—Rodgers, Brady, and Pittsburgh’s Ben Rothlisberger, are also potential post-season nightmares for any opponent. For now, Ryan only has to worry about out-dueling Rodgers, and statistically speaking, he out-performed Rodgers in passing yards, quarterback rating, completion percentage, passer rating, and average completion during the regular season.

None of that will matter when these two teams square-off on Sunday. In fact, on top of entering the playoffs as football’s most feared quarterback, Rodgers managed to throw for 356 yards and a pair of touchdowns in last week’s win over the Dallas Cowboys without the services of lead receiver Jordy Nelson by connecting with six different targets. Even with the injured receiver expected to miss a second straight week, Rodgers’ most recent performance was more than enough to ensure that Falcons’ defensive coordinator Richard Smith won’t sleep this week.

In Week 9, Ryan ended Atlanta’s two-game slide by leading his team to a 33-32 win over the visiting Packers with a last-second touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu. Rodgers torched Atlanta’s defense for four touchdowns and registered a passer rating of 125.5 in the loss, but that victory was extremely significant for a Falcons’ defense that currently consists of 18 players with zero playoff experience, and it should give the youngsters some added confidence entering round two.

Realistically, as impressive as Ryan’s regular season was, it won’t mean much of anything unless he leads Atlanta to the Super Bowl—the one thing that could grant him a spot alongside those previously-mentioned quarterback greats. And while you’ll probably hear folks arguing that Atlanta’s young defense is in trouble, or claiming that Green Bay can’t stop the run ahead of Sunday’s NFC slug-fest, we already know that the fate of these Falcons rests solely on the shoulders of Matt Ryan.

 

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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