It is finally here. Atlanta Falcons fans have been waiting and now it is just days away. The Falcons are starting their new season against the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday, September 12th. The game marks a new beginning for the Falcons under Arthur Smith. The Falcons Week 1 key to victory is to limit Jalen Hurts both in and out of the pocket.
Limiting Jalen Hurts Is Atlanta Falcons Week 1 Key to Victory
Key Matchup: Falcons Defense Versus Jalen Hurts
A matchup to watch in this game is the Falcons offense against the Eagles defense. Calvin Ridley vs. Darius Slay, Jake Matthews vs. Brandon Graham, and Kyle Pitts vs. everybody. It will be fun to watch for fans. But with all of these exciting matchups, it is crazy how the X-Factor could be on the other side of the football. But it is not actually that surprising.
The Falcons defense was the worst in the league against the pass last year. Jalen Hurts will be a starter for the first time in this new Nick Sirianni offense. The Falcons are going to score. There is not much debate about that. The question will be how Hurts and the Eagles offense will respond. One of the problems with the Falcons last year, and a point of emphasis this off-season, was the outside linebacker position. The Falcons will have issues keeping Hurts contained as he runs around in and out of the pocket. With offensive linemen like Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson returning for the Eagles, the task becomes that much more daunting for the Falcons defense.
Nick Sirianni’s offense, while he was with the Indianapolis Colts, looks eerily similar to an offensive scheme that Atlanta Falcons fans have grown accustomed to enjoying under Arthur Smith. Run heavy, two tight-end personnel, and a knack for putting playmakers in space. The Sirianni offense is one that the Falcons see every day in practice but with a few minor tweaks. Sirianni’s Colts last year did not run the ball as much as Smith’s Tennessee Titans. Sirianni had Philip Rivers under center, which mitigated any quarterback runs. In Tennessee, Arthur Smith had the former receiver, Ryan Tannehill, to use in his run game. With Jalen Hurts at quarterback, expect the running game for the Eagles to have a much more significant role than last year when they recorded only the 23rd most attempts.
However, to stop the run, what a defense needs is solid play from their linebackers. The Falcons have that in abundance. Deion Jones and Foye Oluokun anchor a group of linebackers that boast the traits Dean Pees looks for in defenses. Speed, agility, high football IQ, and a knack for getting around the ball and forcing turnovers. Oluokun and Jones combined for four interceptions and five forced fumbles last year, all of which happened after Raheem Morris took the interim head coaching.
Week 1 Prediction
The Atlanta Falcons defense will have some difficulty stopping this offense with Jalen Hurts under center. It will be a tough game throughout. Both teams are looking to get off on the right foot for their new head coach. However, the talent on the Atlanta sideline is just going to be too much for Philadelphia.
It is all going to boil down to Jalen Hurts. His performance may be acceptable for the vast majority of the game, but Dean Pees will give him different looks throughout the game. Expect these looks to lead to a couple of head-scratching turnovers. With their roster, the Falcons have the ability to capitalize on those takeaways and ultimately win this game.
Prediction: Falcons 27 Eagles 17