The Philadelphia Eagles are scheduled to open their 2015 NFL season against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. The Eagles are favored to win despite being on the road in the Georgia Dome.
Bleeding Green Nation already took some time to chat with Dave Choate from The Falcoholic this week. Dave and I exchanged five questions on Thursday: here's the BGN version and here's the TF version.
Today, we're back with reasons why each team might lose. This format forces us to consider each team's weaknesses, rather than just think of why each team is awesome.
So here's why the Falcons will lose, as written by Dave. Check out The Falcoholic to see why I think the Eagles could lose.
Why The Falcons Will Lose
"If this was the 2014 Falcons, I'd just glance at the roster and say "for all the reasons," and then we'd all move on with our lives. With a new head coach at the helm and a genuinely improved roster, though, this requires a bit more thought.
Allow me to break down the reasons why the Atlanta Falcons will not triumph in Week 1, even if I think they very well might win, because there are plenty of reasons to think the team is going to struggle with the Eagles."
"It all starts with the offensive line. The Falcons are loaded with receiving options, so I can't pretend I think they're going to lose because of that. I can't tell you with a straight face that I think Matt Ryan is going to defecate noisily all over the comforter, because he's reliable, and one of the better quarterbacks in football. Hell, I even feel good about Tevin Coleman, who has the ability to break big plays at running back.
That line, though. The Falcons will start a reserve journeyman at center, a formerly quality veteran who had a bad 2014 and just joined the team last week, and the completely uninspiring Chris Chester at right guard. Jake Matthews has been dealing with a back injury, as well, so he may not be truly 100%. The Falcons may have cobbled together a decent offensive line, but it's a massive question mark, Levitre is totally new to the team, and Mike Person has literally never started a game at center. I know the Eagles front seven is intimidating, and there's the potential that they'll be able to absolutely slice through this line. If Matt Ryan is scrambling, getting sacked, and being forced into mistakes, this team loses.
The other big reason to think the Falcons will lose is that their options after Coleman are a not 100% Devonta Freeman and the uninspiring Terron Ward. If the Eagles can figure out Coleman, they may just make Atlanta one-dimensional."
"This one's easier. The Eagles present an intimidating, varied challenge for any defense, and Atlanta's still cobbling together a decent one after two straight years of abject misery.
The team simply can't make Philadelphia one-dimensional, which is an issue. Sam Bradford has too many weapons even if they manage to shut down DeMarco Murray and company, and the chances of them being able to do that in the first place are slim. Similarly, they can't bring constant heat on Bradford because of the threat of the run, and those annoying short passes to Darren Sproles that used to kill them when he was on the Saints. The team's best strategy is a balanced one that seeks to force Philadelphia into passing to less preferable, less dangerous options, limiting runs to 3 to 4 yards per pop, and playing aggressively for turnovers that will put the ball back in the hands of the offense.
Unfortunately, none of that is likely to be easy for Atlanta. The defense is better, but free safety Ricardo Allen is somewhat of an unknown quantity, the cornerback corps thins out fast after the top three options available, and Vic Beasley and Adrian Clayborn don't magically guarantee an effective pass rush. The Falcons will lose, in other words, because they have a smart gameplan but aren't quite at the point where they can execute on it against a team bristling with weapons."
The X Factor
"Penalties. The Mike Smith era Falcons were a steady team that avoided penalties, and while I hope Dan Quinn's new squad continues in that fashion, there were enough mistakes in preseason that I kind of doubt it. The offensive line is going to be good for a couple of holding calls, I fear, and the secondary features Robert Alford, a tremendously talented player with a bad habit of picking up yellow flags. The Falcons' special teams unit is blissfully good-to-great across the board, so penalties are the thing most likely to doom the team outside of the already mentioned weaknesses on offense and defense.
Bonus X factor: We have no idea how effectively Dan Quinn can manage a clock just yet. If it gets down to the wire, and the Falcons need to score to catch up, I'll be crossing my fingers hard."