Rob Ryan, brother of Rex and son of Buddy, has predicted his Cowboys — Rob is the defensive coordinator — will beat the Falcons tonight. Falcons fans will probably take offense, no pun intended, but really, what’s he supposed to do? Say, “I’m guessing Atlanta wins by 10″?
For those easily riled, here’s another in the lengthening series of Atlanta-isn’t-as-good-as-its-record stories. (I know a bit about these, having written one myself.) In this one, Gary Horton of Sports Inc. declares on ESPN Insider (link requires registration) that the Falcons have issues running the ball and stopping the run — no news there — and wonders if this offensive line will hold up and if the defense can improve its red-zone efficiency. These are legitimate issues, no question, but still:
About here, I’m waiting for someone to predict that these Falcons are absolutely, positively going to tick off the ‘72 Dolphins by going unbeaten. Maybe I’ll get around to it, assuming Rob Ryan’s forecast doesn’t come to fruition.
While you’re waiting for toe to meet leather, here’s another little serving from ESPN Insider, this from Jeff Gold, in which he states his belief that the Cowboys are a great underdog play tonight. (They’re a 4 1/2-point underdog. They’re also a sub-.500 team.) And yet another from the Worldwide Leader, this from the Grantland imprint, wherein Bill Barnwell claims the Falcons are “a tad overrated” — how, I ask, can they be overrated if everybody’s writing how they aren’t all that great? — but figures they’ll finish as the NFC’s No. 1 seed and Matt Ryan will win MVP. (Barnwell does not, however, pick the Falcons to win the Super Bowl. He likes Green Bay.)
Oh, wait. There’s one more. From Jason York of ESPN Stats & Information, we learn that the Cowboys have beaten a team 7-0 or better three times since 1991 — and all three of those teams won the Super Bowl! So that presents a real dilemma, assuming you’re a Falcons’ fan: Do you root for 8-0, do you pull for history?
I’ll leave you to ponder that metaphysical stumper, but I hope you’ll return for tonight’s festivities. I’ll be watching and commenting, and I hope you’ll join me. And I thank you, as ever, in advance.
By Mark Bradley