Ken’s Column: Barring injuries, Falcons will go 10-6 in 2019
Published 3:05 pm Thursday, August 1, 2019
A year ago, I wrote a column stating that the Atlanta Falcons would go 11-5 and make the playoffs. Of course, like everyone else, I didn’t count on the Falcons being decimated early in the season with numerous injuries to key players on the defensive side of the ball. As a result of those injuries, the Falcons lost several close games late in the fourth quarter because defensive playmakers such as Ricardo Allen and De’Vandre Campbell were not on the field to make an impact and their replacements were not up to the task at getting stops. As a result, the Falcons finished a disappointing 7-9.
As we approach the 2019 season, I’m going to take a more cautiously optimistic viewpoint as far as how I think the Falcons will do.
Campbell, Allen and the other key players on defense who were injured last year are all back. Whether or not they have fully recovered remains to be seen. We will get a good look at them during the preseason. The acquisitions of Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary in the draft should shore up the offensive line and keep Matt Ryan upright long enough for him to complete passes.
If the Falcons can make it through the preseason without any injuries to key people, I predict they will go 10-6 in 2019 and should make the playoffs as a wild card.
I would like to believe they will go 13-3 and win the NFC South, but there are too many tough games on the schedule and most of the other teams in the division, with the exception of Tampa Bay, have gotten better in the offseason.
They start the 2019 season on the road at Minnesota on Sunday, September 8. While Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback Kirk Cousins is not as good as Matt Ryan or Aaron Rogers, he is still a solid quarterback. I think the Falcons lose that game. They will then take on Philadelphia at home in front of a national audience on Sunday evening, September 15. I believe the Falcons will win that game.
Next up is the Indianapolis Colts on the road. I predict a loss in that game. The Falcons will follow that up with a win at home against Tennessee. At this point, they are 2-2.
There next opponent is the Houston Texans on the road. I predict a loss in that game. However, the Falcons will get back in the win column when they travel to Arizona and beat the Cardinals. Arizona rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, will have a decent rookie season, but will not be successful against Atlanta.
The Falcons will then return home to face the defending NFC champions: the Los Angeles Rams. The Falcons will do well at home this year and the Rams will be one of their home wins. This will put them at 4-3. Their next opponent will be the Seattle Seahawks at home. I predict a win in that game as well.
After the Bye Week, they will travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints, but I see a loss in that game. At 5-4, the Falcons travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers on Sunday, November 17, but Cam Newton and his team will hand the Falcons their second straight loss.
Their next two games are at home against the Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I predict wins in both of those games. That puts the Falcons at 7-5 with four games left. Their next game is at home against the Panthers, but the Falcons will stumble in that game and will be on the losing end.
In their last three games against San Francisco, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay, the Falcons will take care of business and finish 10-6 on the season. That should get them into the playoffs as a wild card. Some of you will disagree with me because you think they will do better, while others of you think they’ll go 7-9 again. Obviously, none of us really knows because none of us are prophets. I could be completely off, but I think this is a fair assumption based on how the Falcons are constructed and the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents. We’ll see. It should be an exciting season. My opinion is my opinion. I welcome yours.
Ken Gustafson is the sports editor of the Americus Times-Recorder. To contact him, email him at Ken.firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 229-924-2751.