It was a tumultuous week of practices for the Atlanta Falcons in the lead-up to their Friday evening clash against the Miami Dolphins. Huge expectations are surrounding this team entering the season, and after an unbelievably dismal beginning to the pre-season, tensions are starting to rise in the Falcons camp. A couple of physical altercations broke out during this past Monday’s practice in Atlanta and it should be interesting to see just how fired up the Falcons will approach what should be a tone-setting game against the Dolphins.
Like Atlanta, Miami too has undergone quite the pre-season. First there was the Chad Johnson debacle, ending with his subsequent release from the team. And now, Miami has really struggled in the football aspect of the pre-season. They’ve gone 0-2 in their first two matches, and have looked out of sync on offence and plagued by a wealth of distractions. In a clash between two teams desperately seeking some positive news, this Falcons and Dolphins battle is anything but another meaningless pre-season game.
Falcons vs. Dolphins Spread and Betting Odds:
Atlanta Falcons -3 (-110)
@ Miami Dolphins +3 (-110)
Over 41 (-110)
Under 41 (-110)
Falcons vs. Dolphins Pick:
It is abundantly clear that head coach Mike Smith isn’t going to allow his Atlanta team to enter the regular season on such a low-note. His team is expected to contend for the NFC South divisional crown, and the way they’ve looked thus far throughout August has been unacceptable. This game, though just a pre-season encounter, is important for Smith’s team and a much-improved performance remains paramount.
Atlanta has prepared to confuse Miami’s fresh new rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill in their defensive schemes. The Falcons have already conceded seven pre-season touchdowns, with six of those coming through the air. Atlanta is prepared to work on their coverage and will be focused at disallowing Tannehill time and space to get himself into a rhythm against their vulnerable defence.
Expect Tannehill to play the bulk of the minutes for Miami, before giving way to his back-up Matt Moore in the latter stages of the game. Miami is committed to their 2012 first-rounder in Tannehill and are prepared to give him all the time needed to succeed in the NFL. Tannehill hasn’t been brutal in his first few games, but there is still a ton of room for improvement. Against a re-focused Atlanta defence that’s spent practice hours preparing for his attack, expect it to be tough sledding for the Texas A&M product on Friday night.
Meanwhile, Atlanta’s quarterback in Matt Ryan has been very impressive in limited action thus far in the pre-season and coach Mike Smith has vowed to let his starters play for at least the first half on Friday evening. Ryan has completed close to 80 percent of all his passes in August and should continue along the same lines with a supremely talented receiving corps and a susceptible Miami pass defence.
Expect a hungry Falcons side that has visions of the playoffs dancing in their heads. Though they’ve looked anything but a top team in the NFL early on, coach Mike Smith’s harsh message for his team should resonate with the squad and result in an inspired effort from the Falcons on Friday evening. Look for an improved Atlanta defence to frustrate and confuse the rookie Tannehill, while extended playing time for the likes of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White should wreak havoc on a vulnerable Miami side.