Now that the trial and error period has ended, it is now time for the regular season to begin. Your hometown Atlanta Falcons will be travelling to face their arch nemesis the New Orleans Saints this upcoming Sunday. The Saints are prepped to improve upon a 7-9 record from last season, primarily perceived as a byproduct of the “Bounty Gate Scandal” and the loss of their Head Coach Sean Payton due to a year long suspension. New Orleans also had statistically the worst defense in the history of the National Football League. Now with the return of Peyton, an overhaul of the roster, and new Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan, the Saints want to return to prominence. I reviewed film of the Saints this preseason and their primary focus has been to get offensive continuity back and to change defensive philosophies from a 4-3 to a 3-4. This will be the tougher conversion due to personnel but so far in the preseason they have done well.
The Atlanta Falcons have focused on integrating new personnel into their current system and build upon the momentum from the new coordinators from the previous season. The Falcons released or chose not to re-sign a lot of experience from a 13-3 team. John Abraham is now in Arizona, Dunta Robinson is now in Kansas City, Brent Grimes and Tyson Clabo are in Miami, and Michael Turner has not found a home yet. Atlanta has replaced them with Osi Umenyiora, Steven Jackson, drafted Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, along with a bevy of defenders to put into practice what they want philosophically on both sides of the ball. With a 0-4 preseason one may think that the Falcons are in serious trouble, however I believe that they are just beginning their conversion. The team is only in their second year with the current coordinators and probably in their 1st year of having the chosen personnel. All sides have to mesh to be successful this season. In my personal opinion the Falcons will take a step back record wise, but will become a better team with a combination of an explosive offense combined with an opportunistic defense. I do believe that they will have to acquire some other talent in areas, possibly offensive line, defensive line, and linebacker. My prediction is the Atlanta Falcons will finish 11-5 this season but right now I am not ready to predict a division championship or how far in the playoffs the team will go. That could change with an acquisition or two. Listen to my preview for the Falcons/Saints game;
Jamie Walker is a Producer and the Atlanta Falcons Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. He can be followed on Twitter @coachjdub21.