Your Biggest Atlanta Falcons Games of 2013

The Cage Rolls through the Dead Zone (Arno)

As the Falcons and Football supremely hated “dead zone” rolls on, it’s time to start thinking about the actual upcoming season in terms of opponents and schedule. As many are on vacation, out of town, engaged in yard projects, or just decompressing from football, than this one will open up to you Cage Members to talk about and keep it going here in the thick of the off-season. Here’s a brief list from The Cage, but make sure to take over and keep the great conversations rolling………..

#1) New Orleans Saints

Thursday Night Football, November 21st – Home

Brees the Great Returns (AJC)

It’s easy to look at the bigger games on the schedule, but when it comes to having success in the NFL, you have to beat your rivals. And even though the first game of the season will have all the hype with Sean Payton returning the sideline at home in New Orleans, you always have to hold serve at home against your biggest rivals. Although the Bucs and Panthers are supposedly on the rise, the Saints are still one of the best teams not just in the NFC South, but in the NFC as a whole. The two teams have won the division the last four seasons. If the Falcons win on the road in week 1, this one may not be quite as important, but right now it’s the big one, just like every year.

#2) Green Bay Packers

Sunday Night Football, December 8th – Away

Many will rank the Patriots and Niners game over this one due to the various timing of the season, but this one is in an extremely important point in the season. The loosely translated phrase of “when December hits, the playoffs are in the balance,” really does ring true. Many times, the month of December does is the deciding time frame. This is the 13th game of the season and not only is this a huge game on the road against one of the best teams in the NFL in primetime, but it also sets up a brutal end-of-season stretch for the Falcons. The Falcons play the Redskins at home, the 49ers on the road on Monday Night Football, and host the ever-dangerous Panthers with the last game of the year. A win could build huge momentum, a loss could start a dreadful swoon.

#3) San Francisco 49ers

Monday Night Football, December 23rd – Away

Biggest of Year? (AJC)

Perhaps this should be the obvious #1 and it really couldn’t be argued against. It’s the next to last game of the season of a difficult schedule and many times the last game or two determine the playoffs and seeding. The only counterpoint that could hold any water is that even though the NFL stacks big games like this at the end, many times it has been decided a few games before, at least in terms of the overall NFL records and standings. Again, looking at this from a perspective of the 1st week, this is the biggest game simply due to the 49ers representing the NFC in 2013 in the Super Bowl, but the idea is that there is a ton of football that’s played and could swing the season in many different ways. Week 1, this is the biggest game of the season, but many times that changes even by week 8.

#4) New England Patriots

Sunday Night Football, September 29th – Home

Conceivably, this could the biggest of games, at least in terms of hype and storylines. You have the two most winning franchises over the past five years, Sunday Night Football, the “big brother vs. little brother” feel of Thomas Dimitroff bringing his “Patriot Way South” vs. his mentor Bill Belichick (as Seminole Warrior named sometime back), Tom Brady vs. Matt Ryan, but also the two teams who fell short in their respective conference championships. It’s a very early primetime game that could really help build confidence going forward for either team. This game is a big one because it starts a pretty tough run that will follow the next 6 games (Jets, Bucs, Panthers, Seahawks, Saints). Any other schedule would see this game at the very top, but a massively loaded NFC Conference puts others ahead in 2013.

#5) Seattle Seahawks

Sunday, November 10th – Home

Richard Sherman

Sherman on (the) Deck (AJC)

When the final rankings came out a few weeks ago according to NFL.com, the Falcons – Seahawks game came in as the #2 best game of the 2012 season (either most watched or just highly rated) and it would be easy to place this one higher. No two teams have received more off-season hype than the Seahawks and 49ers. The pendulum has completely swung all the way around to NFC West after being one of the worst divisions in the NFL. Now they’re everyone’s darlings. Russell Wilson did well vs. the Falcons in the playoffs, almost came up with a win, and tweeted “#championship-offseason when they traded for Percy Harvin. Many to most are picking the Seahawks as Super Bowl favorites over the Falcons and several other teams. In fact, this one may end up being the biggest one of all for several reasons. It’s the ninth game of the season and it is in a huge position being sandwiched between away games to the Panthers and Bucs, followed up by a short week vs. the Saints on Thursday Night Football (see #1 above). When you go through these games and several times it becomes very apparent just how much of a challenge the Falcons have in 2013.

Your Turn…………

Here’s a quick refresher of the schedule if you need:

http://www.atlantafalcons.com/schedules/schedule.html

157 comments Add your comment

The Time is NOW

June 8th, 2013
11:48 pm

Enter your comments here

Birdman

June 9th, 2013
12:47 am

I think the first game with the Saints is a statement game in NO. Go in there and win by 2 td’s

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Wings

June 9th, 2013
8:09 am

Time is NOW – you are as fast as Unca’Bob.

D3

June 9th, 2013
8:23 am

Great Sunday A.M. Cage! — After going through here and trying to rank a top 5, it became very clear just how challenging our schedule is this year. I wanted to rank at least one of the Bucs or Panthers games up there, the first sAINTS game, the Dolphins game away, and the Redskins game, but it’s a testament to the difficulty we face this year.

LSUSAINTS1

June 9th, 2013
8:39 am

@Birdman you know that’s not going to happen go in to nawlins & win by 2 td a better Defense payton back with brees its gonna be like 2006 first game back in the dome the Falcons had there time last year could not close the deal the saints are back like it or not I hope to be home then I’m in Afghan have a good season Birdman

Birdman

June 9th, 2013
8:53 am

D3

I here you brother . Thanks for the work you put in for us fans man !!

Great Sunday Cage . I hope you all to have a blessed day.

FrontRow

June 9th, 2013
10:46 am

Easy – the 49ers game. How many years are we into this system? The Falcons got embarrassed by the Giants a couple years ago – favor returned. This team has been really good at correcting deficiency year to year; last year the only weakness was letting teams back in the game. I’m guessing that this year’s improvement is learning how to punch the other team in the mouth in the 3rd quarter.

falcon21

June 9th, 2013
12:21 pm

Easy, the first playoff game, the NFC championship game and the Super Bowl.

Birdman

June 9th, 2013
12:35 pm

LSUSAINTS1

Thank you for what you are doing for our Country Man.May God keep a close watch over you and all our Solders .

I hope you do get to be there in the States for the game. BUT DON”T LOOK FOR A WIN BROTHER

God Bless.

Big Ray

June 9th, 2013
12:40 pm

http://www.foxsportssouth.com/nfl/atlanta-falcons/story/Falcons-notebook-Much-hinges-on-Johnson-?blockID=908931&feedID=4383

So I wonder if Ledbetter has anything different to say? Based on his last POS article, I’d not know. Then again, I refuse to subscribe to “myajc.com”, so there’s that.

Interesting that the author sees Johnson as the frontrunner at RT…based pretty much on the experience thing. Funny….here I was thinking that Johnson got nearly all of his reps in practice at RG (a spot he supposedly was competing for a year or two ago) or at TE in actual games (he caught a TD pass). So how does he have an edge at the position of RT, again?

Huh.

Then there’s this, which personifies the WPP and “cross training” stuff –

Johnson also said that experience helped but also joked about it, too.

“It was neat just to get in game situations,” said Johnson, who caught a touchdown pass on a trick play last season. “Kind of get some plays under your belt. I got a few game situations at guard and tackle and tight end. It’s only beneficial. I don’t think it’s going to help me when I’m getting speed-rushed by Osi (Umenyiora) in practice or somebody else in the game but it’s just one of those things. You do what you can when you can and it helps a lot.”

More interesting info from the article includes this, which explains a few things perhaps:

One big transformation in that position for the Falcons could simply come in physical size. Clabo weighed 330 pounds. Johnson was drafted as a guard, a position that is generally (but not always) smaller. He said his weight has fluctuated from 314 pounds to the 280s. He said now he is 304, which Hill said was “lean muscle,” adding that Johnson has low body fat. Johnson said he is working with the team’s new strength and conditioning coach and a nutritionist, as are all the team’s linemen.

Might this have something to do with why the team HAS a new strength and conditioning coach/nutritionist? Plus, this is inside insight to what goes on with players and their prospective body weight. Every sports site has a player listed at a particular weight. Johnson has always been listed at about 304 lbs. Who knew he got all the way down to 280 or so, which is too damn light to play Guard, let alone Tackle, and even lighter than most Centers! No wonder they had him at TE a bunch of times….

But should he still be the favorite over the massive Holmes?

The article is a good read. Unlike what you get from a certain site that now wants you to start paying for the crap that has always been crap, outside of what D3 does, and the occasional good hit from Bradley….

Big Ray

June 9th, 2013
12:43 pm

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2013/6/9/4411452/mike-johnson-lamar-holmes-right-tackle-falcons

This bears watching. Thing is, no pads have been put on yet, and THAT is when starting jobs are earned.

Big Ray

June 9th, 2013
12:47 pm

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2013/6/8/4403566/tight-ends-galore

My only guess is that the FO stacked the deck at this position in preparation for what must come next spring – the final and absolute exodus of TG88.

Toilolo better be a quick study, is all I can say. If Coffman can stay healthy, Toilolo will find himself where Michael Palmer found himself…but for different reasons.

Big Ray

June 9th, 2013
12:49 pm

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2013/6/7/4403740/the-falcons-will-need-to-help-desmond-trufant-in-2013

Traded up for this guy. You BETTER help him if he needs it. Thing is, if you traded up for him…that’s generally an indicator that he won’t need much help most nights…

Big Ray

June 9th, 2013
12:54 pm

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2013/6/6/4399016/how-does-the-hawley-konz-camp-battle-affect-the-line

If you ask me, Konz HAS to win the job at Center. The only acceptable option (which I’m not in love with) is him losing that battle and becoming the starter at RG. Otherwise, somebody needs to be fired, demoted, or otherwise beaten with a cane pole for 4 hours straight.

Outside of Baker, Konz is the highest pick TD has made on the OL. He HAS to be a starter. We may have some diamonds in the rough (Reynolds comes cheap and was a decent starting RG prior to injury, but I doubt any of our CFAs and PS guys are going to surprise us with something greater).

jdiggity

June 9th, 2013
1:58 pm

BR,

I agree about Konz. If he doesn’t start at C or RG, I think I will have a mental breakdown. A few months ago I was of the opinion that our best option was Hawley at C and Konz at RG, but now I’m leaning towards C: Konz, RG: GReynolds. I guess only time will tell, but like you say, if Konz doesn’t start on our Oline then we’re in for some trouble.

D3

June 9th, 2013
2:11 pm

BR / jdig — totally agree about Konz and Holmes. Even though we call it the dead zone, it just as easily could be called “silly season.” Various media organizations develop into this mania where anything halfway football related is considered open for debate. No question at all that Konz is starting, almost definitely at center. Smith even said as much in a press conference. I totally disagree that Johnson has any leg up at all. If anything its more pressure because dude has failed to make a move at any position on one of the more porous OLs in the NFL in 3 years. Same for Hawley

D3

June 9th, 2013
2:19 pm

RE: Trufant Article — I’m unable to read it, but the premise alone seems pretty silly. I agree w/ BR you don’t trade draft picks in 1st rd for someone that needs “that much help.” they must be forgetting who we used to have back there. His name rhyme with corncob. M-A-N-I-A!!

D3

June 9th, 2013
2:20 pm

–rhymes— d@mn POS blackberry

JB Falcon

June 9th, 2013
4:19 pm

Corncob? Okay, doorknob? Hobnob?

Ken Strickland

June 9th, 2013
6:25 pm

I don’t see why the possibility of us needing to help Trufant at CB is any different than us having to help Robinson, except Trufant will definitely get better as the season progresses.

I can’t believe anyone would be stupid enough to think we cut starting RT TClabo because of the confidence we have in MJohnson, rather than LHolmes. Unless PKonz has trouble beating out JHawley at OC, the only position realistically up for grabs on our OL will be RG.

Grits Blitz

June 9th, 2013
6:46 pm

It won’t matter who we play in 2013 if we can’t stop them. Open Letter to Coach Nolan…
Quit basing a philosophy of bending and being “defensive” on defense. We know you are a very good coach and can only do as well as the intelligence and talent of your players will allow. However, the truth remains we don’t scare anybody and that’s not a recipe for SB success. Start w/ a different attitude on d and demand it/sell it to the players! Let’s start attacking and make the opponent have to react on the fly! Rush/blitz 5 or more players on 3rd downs and quit thinking we’re “pressuring” their qb by going nickel every time. It makes their qb think it’s the dinner bell at Hannibal Lechter’s Chuck Wagon. They LOVE a 3-man (non) rush from us, can take their sweet time for dessert rolling through 3-4 option receivers, or just tuck it for 1st downs. Let’s start bringing the soup bone to get their attention, deliver some consistent abuse to THEM so they have something else to consider, rush them from…everywhere. It’s not illegal to dish out some legal “pain”. Give us a fire-breathing middle linebacker who is intelligent, too! (It’s been a LONG time since Hammer.) Knock out a few of opposing qbs (Hannibal’s) teeth and he doesn’t bite too well eating our lunch on 3rd downs. What’s he gonna do, gum us to death in the 4th quarter? Finally, let’s get uncivilized on d! Unleash the beasts once a week, deny the deodorant 3 days before games, don’t wash jock straps, and keep them burly and surly during the week. Tell them no girly-men w/ skirts in witness protection need apply this year. If that doesn’t work, practice the clothesline, head slaps, and meat grinders in strictly “voluntary” workouts! Come on, Coach Nolan. Remember, more of the same as in the past to solve that which ain’t working is insanity. And “gentlemen” should NOT play defense anymore in Atlanta…ever.

JB Falcon

June 9th, 2013
7:04 pm

Ken, Johnson has had three years to amount to something. I personally think Holmes is stocked full of potential and would risk his inexperienced status just to let him develope. He can be Clabo Jr.

Ken Strickland

June 9th, 2013
7:51 pm

JB FALCON-MJohnson has established himself as a versatile career backup for the Falcons. He’s been the victim of coaching Bias(Boudreau), injuries, and the dreaded cross training philosophy. He’s considered too versatile & injury prone to be seriously considered as a starter.

RT & OC are there for LHolmes & PKonz to lose, respectively. Unless Konz falls on his face at OC, we might as well say RG is Reynolds to lose. Barring injuries, I see our starting OL as
RT-LHolmes
RG-GReynolds
OC-PKonz
LG-JBlalock
LT-SBaker

Arno

June 9th, 2013
9:11 pm

Trying to help fight off the dead zone doldrums I’ve been working to come up with a Cage t-shirt design. We couldn’t use the above shown poster because of NFL merch copyright rules. What you see below would be Cage free. I was hoping we could do something for the invite later on this summer. Tell me what y’all think. Criticisms are welcome. I tried to do something smart, tough, and loyal– how I feel about you folks on the Cage.

http://www.thewrightsgallery.com/cage_t-shirt.html

JB Falcon

June 9th, 2013
9:20 pm

Arno, I like the original, so what’s the copywright problem? It doesn’t say NFL at all.

Arno

June 9th, 2013
9:30 pm

It’s the Falcon.

falcon21

June 9th, 2013
9:35 pm

Trying to be a little more serious with this post than my first. With Hawks, 9ers, Pack and Pats on our schedule, our biggest games will be within our own division. We need to go 5 and 1 or 4 and 2 at worse. If we split with the big boys that I mentioned, maybe we could finish the season 11-5, maybe 12 -4.

Ken Strickland

June 9th, 2013
10:46 pm

I can’t speak for anyone else, but this slow period is about to drive me crazy. There are so many players I want to find out about & get a handle on what we can expect from them. These sports sites are coming up with pure BS to write about.

Ken Strickland

June 9th, 2013
11:20 pm

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2013/6/7/4407256/hypothetical-corner-conundrum

CAGERS-Here’s an interesting article on our potential CB situation, which is a very positive situation to be in.

LSUSAINTS1

June 10th, 2013
5:55 am

@Birdman Thanks Bro your are Falcons Fan & I’m Saints Fan @ the end of the day we are all American one fight one team God Bless America

Big Ray

June 10th, 2013
7:05 am

jdiggity ,

I just can’t see a way around it.

But I think D3 has it right – the dead zone is ripe for ridiculous articles/suggestions/speculations. I don’t even know why I paid those articles any attention, although that first one was actually a decent read.

Big Ray

June 10th, 2013
7:06 am

Seriously? Blog monster is awake during the dead zone? Ugh….

Big Ray

June 10th, 2013
7:06 am

K Strick ,

“Too much talent” is never a bad thing.

Big Ray

June 10th, 2013
7:10 am

Reading the link from that article, Pat Y has shown far more insight into Falcons OTAs (specifically on how rookie Alford is doing) in one small paragraph than Ledbetter has in two separate articles.

Now that is just plain pitiful.

Ok, so what if Alford is so good that the Falcons can’t keep him off the field? Should be interesting.

JB Falcon

June 10th, 2013
9:45 am

In the next few years we are going to see some outstanding rushing seasons from the young quarterbacks in the NFL, but the question remains: Can those running quarterbacks can lead a team to a Super Bowl win? So far the answer is no. Pat Kirwan

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/blog/pat-kirwan/22383888/run-or-pass-history-says-teams-with-running-qbs-are-average-at-best

jdiggity

June 10th, 2013
10:57 am

Ken,

I don’t agree with the article you posted that assumes McClain is guaranteed the Nickel spot. I think the only guarantee as of right now is that Asante will be starting on the outside. The other outside spot is up for grabs between Trufant and Alford, and the loser of that battle will be a coinflip with McClain for the nickel spot. If McClain was a sure-thing then it’s much less likely that we would’ve drafted Alford.

Joshua malavenda

June 10th, 2013
11:50 am

Good article as usual d3

The hardest game we will play is the packers because we will playing them at Lambeau field in the dead of winter.

I wouldn’t be suprised if mafia figured some way to get Alford, bobby Mac, Asante and tru all on the field at one time. He did say that in the future nfl defenses will have 5 or 6 db on the field at one time.I think bobby Mac will be the starting Nickle and Alford will make some contributions as db his impact will be most felt in the return game this year.

Have too many talented DBS is a high maintenance issue that I bet any nfl team would love to have that problem.

Paddy O

June 10th, 2013
11:54 am

I think these run option guys are going to be suffering from a sophomore slump – EXCEPT – both Kapernick & Wilson can throw. It will interesting to see how Cam does next year – he made some real strides. I’m hoping Brees gets old quick in NO. Freeman seems to have a limited upside – he has been stagnant the last 2 years. Still makes a lot of interception errors.

Paddy O

June 10th, 2013
11:56 am

as others have said, the intra division games are key – we got lucky last year the Saints fell flat on their faces coming out of the gate. We play Brees pretty well. We’ve gotta play Newton better this year. Schiano – other than that horribly lame, poorly anticipated cheap shot against the Giants seemed to be a pretty good coach. We’ll see.

Joshua malavenda

June 10th, 2013
12:02 pm

I wouldnt be suprised if we ran a bunch of hybrid dime packages vs teams like the patriots and the packers this year.

Die Hard Falcon

June 10th, 2013
12:03 pm

@falcon21:

I totally agree! The most important games are always division games, if we win the division, we’re guaranteed a playoff berth. Next most important are NFC playoff teams, likely the : 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, and maybe the Redskins. Then, it goes to any other NFC games. It’s all about positioning ourselves in the playoffs and even though the Patriots are a better challenge than the Cardinals, it really won’t matter as much for our season overall. I agree that w/ how good our division is projected to be, that if we come out 5 -1 or 4 -2 we should be fine on that front, even if we split the games w/ the top opponents and win the games that we should win.

Go Falcons!!!

Die Hard Falcon

June 10th, 2013
12:06 pm

@Joshua Malavenda

I live on the Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin border and Dec. 8th isn’t usually too bad for the winter weather up here. I would hate it if they Falcons had to come in January though for sure. Unless it’s an unusually early winter, weather shouldn’t hurt us too bad in that game.

Go Falcons!!!

Matty Bicep

June 10th, 2013
12:13 pm

I think there is a uniqueness to each new QB that does not signal any paradigm shift.

Kapernick has to luxury of having the best OL in football, and he gets good game plans, but his production speaks for itself, but what he does will be hard to model elsewhere.

Wilson is more a scrambler in the mold of Fran Tarkenton than any of the “running”QBs” mentioned, he uses his legs to buy time, but will not hesitate to take easy yardage if it is there. He has the 3rd eye in the back of his head and knows when to get down…I see a 15 year career outta this guy. But again, guys like him do not grow in trees.

RG3 just takes too many hits, he will either be a pocket passer, or out of the league in 3 years.

But in the end, I would still talk Luck before any of them, although I believe 3 of them will win SBs before it is said and done, I don’t think RG has the durability.

Matty Bicep

June 10th, 2013
12:18 pm

Cam? he has not proven he can he run an NFL 2 minute offense.

For all the “stuff” that happened, it took until the 2nd Falcon game for him to lead his offense to a single point under 2 minutes in either half. You can’t win consistently in the NFL if you can’t score in crunch time.

Joshua malavenda

June 10th, 2013
12:29 pm

Die hard falcon/ i debating with myself between that game I chose the 49ers game and the first saints game but in the end because they play packers in the last month of the season and it wil be in the period where everybody is trying to make the push to make it in the playoffs.

Reguardless of the weather Lambeau field is a hard place to play in.

I am going go out on a limb and say the falcons go 14 and 2 and one their loses will be in green bay and the other one will be a division foe.

Rise up!

Ken Strickland

June 10th, 2013
12:48 pm

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1665661-what-richard-seymour-would-bring-to-the-atlanta-falcons

CAGERS-Here’s an excellent article on why we need to sign Seymour. I’m certain the Falcon braintrust understands this perfectly. But I believe the Falcons feel they hold the winning hand in this standoff over how much he should get paid.

Ken Strickland

June 10th, 2013
1:11 pm

JDIGGITY-We drafted Trufant to replace DRobinson. We drafted Alford to be ASamuels eventual replacement. If Alford does as well this season as McClain did last season at NCB, we might see Samuel suffer the same fate as DRobinson.

I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a team with SB asperations, & coming off 2 13-3 seasons in 3yrs, that was willing to voluntarily cut as many atarters & former Probowl starters as the Falcons(Abraham, Robinson, Clabo, Turner, Cox)and/or fail to even offer contracts to key backups(Svitek, Palmer, Walker, Sidbury, Owens).

It appears to me that DC Nolan & OC DKoetter are having as much impact of the teams braintrust(Smitty & TD)as they’ve had on the teams on field production. As we can readily see, the WPP is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Before Nolan & Koetter’s arrival, does anyone thing Smitty would have allowed veteran starters, & former Probowlers, Clabo, Robinson, Turner, & Abraham to be cut in favor of rookies or 2nd yr backups?

Die Hard Falcon

June 10th, 2013
1:13 pm

Joshua M. –

I would love it if we went 14 – 2, but I’m thinking our record won’t be as good as last season. I think we’ll go 11 – 5. I think we’ll lose on the road to the aints & panthers, and GB, then I believe that we’ll lose at home to Pats, and on the road in SF. I like your scenario better though

Go Falcons!!!

Joshua malavenda

June 10th, 2013
2:05 pm

Señor Strickland- I think we drafted Tru to eventually take over asantes spot. When I think of Alford I think of a faster version of grimes but I am sure he was drafted to eventually replace Robinson like you said. I also agree that the dismantling of the wpp has a lot to do with the new coordinators that have come in the last year or so.