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2012 NFL Team Preview: Atlanta Falcons

After mortgaging their entire 2011 draft to acquire Julio Jones, Atlanta went 10-6. They lost to the eventual Super Bowl winner, New York Giants, and looked bad doing it. You never want a ‘2’ next to your name, unless the final score is 2-0.

In 2011, Atlanta won the games they were supposed to win and lost the games they were supposed to lose. They were a bit vanilla and didn’t have too many memorable moments that I can recall.

Can Michael Turner rebound from a horrible second-half in 2011? Does a new offensive coordinator translate into better passing numbers for Matt Ryan?

Here’s our 2012 NFL team preview for the Atlanta Falcons.

(Yes, that is Playboy’s Jaime Edmondson in an Atlanta Falcons shirt…expect a lot more of her in our NFL team preview posts.)

2011 Win/Loss Record: 10-6

Key Additions: CB Asante Samuel, LB Mike Peterson, C Peter Konz, OT Lamar Holmes, Bradie Ewing and Jonathan Massaquoi.

Key Losses: CB Kelvin Hayden, WR Eric Weems, S James Sanders and LB Curtis Lofton.

Non-Division Schedule: AFC West and NFC East

Fantasy SleeperWR Harry Douglas – I did think Jason Snelling would be the best fantasy sleeper on the Falcons, but Harry Douglas is a better deep sleeper. The new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is rumored to be implementing a pass-happy offense. Matt Ryan looks good early in camp and is said to already have a good feel for the new offense. Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez can’t catch all the balls and if Douglas can stay healthy, he’ll get some targets.

Team Analysis: Ryan will be better under the new offensive coordinator. They won’t have to rely on Michael Turner as much, which is a bonus for the team. His heavy workload seems to be taking a toll on him and Snelling could find more carries by the end of the season. Asante Samuel will help them a lot in the secondary. They were 20th in opposing passing yards and facing the NFC South is difficult a difficult task. They catch a break in the scheduling by playing four games against the AFC West, but then face the upgraded NFC East. They will have a better season in 2012, especially since Ryan will have a full training camp with Jones and the rest of his wide receivers.

2012 Wins Over/Under Line: 9 (Prediction: OVER)

2012 Projected Win/Loss Record: 11-5

CLICK HERE to read the rest of our 2012 NFL Team Previews

A Sports & Entertainment blog that focuses on absurdity in sports, snarky banter, updates on Tim Tebow’s virginity, and decent sports gambling advice.

Is Matt Forte In A Sophomore Slump?

Matt Forte was 2/3rds of the Bears offense last season and he has been a ghost of himself this year. He was non-existent in the first two games against Green Bay and Pittsburgh. He was expected to have a great game against Seattle, but he barely averaged three yards per carry. Frank Gore ran all over the Seahawks last week and this could be a huge red flag for the Bears. Forte wasn’t expected to be a huge part of the passing game, but they need him to be a force in the running game. Is Forte in a sophomore slump or is this just a case of him facing good teams?

It doesn’t matter what team you play for in the NFL, if you only have 150 yards and averaging 2.5 yards per carry in the first three games of the season, people will start talking. Forte averaged 3.9 last season, but he also had 63 receptions, which may have been due to Kyle Orton dumping the ball off in a hurry. He does have 11 receptions so far this season, so he is near his usual pace. He didn’t catch any balls the first came, so you have to give props to Ron Turner for recognizing that he needs the ball in his hands.

I know Forte’s performance hasn’t been what the Bears have wanted, but they still need to keep feeding him the ball. He is their playmaker on offense and they can’t give up on the running game. When the Bears offense becomes one-dimensional, Jay Cutler will become predictable. He already tries to force passes in where he has no right to throw them. If you take away the running game, safeties will be spying the quarterback and the defense can play nickel and deep dime all game long.

Much have been made of Michael Turner’s large number of carries and the affect on the running back the next season. If you add Forte’s carries and receptions last season, it equals the amount of work that Turner received last year. I guess if you have the mindset that Turner will have a down year, you’re not surprised that Forte’s numbers have taken a hit. The Bears rode him last year and it has took its toll on him. He may turn it around and for the Bears sake, I hope he does.

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Why You Shouldn’t Draft These Players

Going into your fantasy football draft, you have a few players already planned that if they are available, you’re going to pick them. You may have an allegiance to them because they are on your favorite team or your favorite fantasy football analyst picked them to have a big year. If you’re on the fence about a few players, here are reasons why you shouldn’t pick certain players. I’m just talking you guys off the ledge, not pushing you off. All of these players will probably be great, but they all have possibilities of an epic fail this year.

Tom Brady – Did you see how his knee bent last year? Also, I’m pretty sure he’s using all of energy on Gisele Bundchen, wouldn’t you?

Aaron Rodgers – Before last season, he was known as “injury-prone,” one full season and that suddenly disappears?

DeAngelo Williams – Jonathan Stewart is a touchdown vulcher…even if he’s only 70% healthy, he’ll still get touches in the red zone.

Michael Turner – see DeAngelo Williams, but add in Tony Gonzalez as the touchdown vulcher.

Jay Cutler – It’s hard to throw a football with a pacifier in your mouth.

Peyton Manning – He spent the off-season filming commercials and Marvin Harrison is currently sitting on a couch somewhere.

Adrian Peterson – Brett Favre is in town and he’s the NFL version of Stephon Marbury, he’s a ball hog.

Donovan McNabb – He looks like he’s been eating a lot of Chunky Soup lately…probably an extra 15 pounds of beef and potatoes in his mid-section.

Matt Cassel – I hear Scott Mitchell called and he said that he wishes him the best this season.

Thomas Jones – He had more candles on his last birthday cake than touchdowns he has left in his career.

LaDanian Tomlinson – Emmit Smith looked good in a Cardinals uniform right? Jerry Rice was great for the Seahawks, right? Tomlinson will probably look good in a Texans uniform next year too.

Chad Pennington – Does he have any ligaments or tendons left in his arm?

Brian Westbrook – The Eagles have already ear-marked a spot on the injury report for him, right between Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis.

David Garrard – If he can somehow be able to throw from his back, maybe he can throw a few touchdowns.

Maurice Jones-Drew – When Warrick Dunn went to the only option in the backfield he had his worst year.

Calvin Johnson – He should probably play quarterback and throw passes to himself.

Chris Johnson – LenDale White will eat him by Week 4.

Brandon Jacobs – You should probably pick him early or he will go to your draft and give you a power-bomb courtesy of Captain Insano.

Eli Manning – You may have a better year if you draft Archie.

Steven Jackson – Remember when he was a first-round pick? Back when the Rams played like an NFL team…it’s been awhile.

Kyle Orton – Did you see his pre-season games? That’s probably why he’s still available.

Matt Schaub – Do you think he will be healthy all year this season? Didn’t you ask youself that the last two seasons?

Marion Barber – I’m sure Felix Jones won’t take any touchdowns away from him this year…even though Jerry Jones is in love with him. Nah, go ahead and draft him, yeah….yeah.

Ben Roethlisberger – After getting punished last year by an awful offensive line pass protection, they have improved it right? No? Okay, stay away from Big Ben.

Kevin Smith – He plays for the Detroit Lions.

Tony Gonzalez – The Falcons were 31st in the NFL at throwing to the tight end last season.

Terrell Owens – He will be a contestant for “I Love New York” by mid-season. No one will notice that he is gone.

Brandon Marshall – An emotional, hot-headed, receiver always does well when their team is bad. I’m sure he will keep his composure and not demand a trade. Oops!

Trent Edwards – I’m glad that he has that Stanford degree to fall back on. I hear J.P. Losman already landed a new job.

JaMarcus Russell – Al Davis bet the farm on him, but he looks like he has eaten all of the animals.

Reggie Bush – Kim Kardashian broke up with him, his year has already started horribly, do you think its going to get better?

Larry Johnson – Todd Haley loves to pass the ball, the Arizona Cardinals running attack was putrid last year.

Willie Parker – Don’t turn around, Rashard Mendenhall is right behind you.

Chad Ocho Cinco – I’m sure all that UStream experience will be handy on the field.

Joseph Addai – When your team drafts a top player at your position, how do you take it?

Braylon Edwards – Maybe he will get an endorsement for “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter,” on top of his “5-Hour Energy” endorsment money.

Darren McFadden – He plays on a team where his coach broke the face of an assistant. Sounds like a good team atmosphere for a break-out season.

Michael Vick – A few months out of prison and all the pressure to perform well to resurrect his career…you think he’ll be pretty calm and clear-minded?

Brady Quinn – Express and Limited Corporations are located in Ohio, maybe he can pose for some modeling campaigns on the sideline when he’s holding a clipboard by mid-season.
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What I Learned – NFL Week 1

I try not to speculate on what will happen in the NFL before the first game of the season. I did have an NFL Prediction post last week, but that was just for fun and possibly bragging rights if any of that stuff comes close to coming true. I did predict that Tom Brady will not throw 30 TDs this season, looks like that will come true. Here is a list of things I have learned after watching week one.

– The Carolina Panthers are what many experts thought they would be last season, very good. San Diego will be good, but looks like the NFC South will be more competitive than the last few seasons.

– Matt Forte looks like Eddie George. I know the Colts haven’t historically had good run defense, but they did a great job last season. If Forte keeps this up, the Bears may find the playoffs this year.

– Matt Cassel “could” be good. He hasn’t started a game since high school. He should have a few good weeks since no team has any film to study on the QB. Unless they dust off some sort of high school recruiting video of Cassel, look for him to have a few good weeks coming up, after that, I’m not sure what will happen.

– The Raiders are still bad. I know this team has a few young studs and added DeAngelo Hall this offseason. Denver isn’t supposed to be good this season and they completely dominated the Raiders in every area. It will be another long year in Oakland and could be headed back to L.A. after this season.

– The pre-season is still a little important. I say this from watching Peyton Manning in the Colts first game. He looked completely rusty and out of sync with all of his receivers. Anthony Gonzalez didn’t help him by dropping a couple key passes, but it could be a down year for them. I am a Colts fan and it saddens me to say that, but I still expect them to win enough to make the playoffs.

– Willie Parker’s job is secure. A lot of people read into this year’s draft that the Steelers aren’t sold on Pakers as their running back. Rashard Mendenhall was taken very high, but appears that he could be a 3rd-down back for awhile. Parker looked amazing and scoring three TDs will make his fantasy football owners approve of him.

– Buffalo looks like an AFC East contender. The Bills dominated the Seahawks and looks much-improved this season. Seattle doesn’t have a great history of playing on the road and this could be a one-week wonder for Buffalo, but I think they are legit.

– Michael Turner is finally a starter in the NFL. Atlanta is going to run the ball a million yards this season with Turner and Norwood as a two-headed backfield. They will give Matt Ryan some time to throw the ball and could lead to a few extra wins for the Falcons this season.

– Jacksonville is over-rated. I have never been high on the Jaguars. I think last season they over-achieved and will fall back down to earth this year. The loss of Marcus Stroud will be too much to overcome and they really don’t have much of an offense if Maurice Jones-Drew is stopped.

– Carson Palmer played like Akili Smith. I know that the Bengals played the Ravens, but this is the 2008 Ravens and not the 2000 Ravens. Palmer didn’t even throw for 100 yards and Chad Ocho Cino, I mean, Chad Johnson was a ghost. Marvin Lewis could be coaching Cincinnati for the last season.

– How ‘Bout Them Cowboys! Cleveland did look bad, but I think Dallas made them look worse than they really are. Dallas is already loaded on offense and having a guy like Felix Jones coming off the bench shouldn’t even be fair. I will definitely watch the Cowboys/Eagles games this season, they should be great.

– Brett Favre is still Brett Favre. He is made the Jets look amazing. I know they played Miami, but he didn’t look rusty at all. The Jets should be much-improved, but it is still too early to put them as a playoff team.

A Sports & Entertainment blog that focuses on absurdity in sports, snarky banter, updates on Tim Tebow’s virginity, and decent sports gambling advice.