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Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins
This is another tough game for me. I’ve not done a good job of being able to quantify the impact of the Falcons’ coaching. They’re always very prepared. They started hot against the Rams last week which was something I didn’t expect at all. The problem is that this is another tough personnel matchup for the Falcons this week.
Cameron Wake and company will be a pain in the side of the Falcons offense. Atlanta will have to scheme extra protection to his side – TE help or a RB that chips him before heading out into his route. This is something that if they don’t do it, it could be a game killer for the Falcons. Brent Grimes is a fantastic corner and he deserves to get credit for that. And the safeties for Miami are tremendous as well. Nolan Carroll has played well too. This is one of the few teams that might be able to matchup against the Falcons offensive playmakers all across the board. And they can get pressure with only 4 players? That sounds like major issues to me. Again, this is where coaching and scheme comes in and I haven’t been good at predicting Dirk Koetter’s offensive gameplans.
On defense, the Falcons should be able to limit the impact of Mike Wallace except that the safeties are aggressive. One misstep and he could make them play. This isn’t a 7 catch, 120 yard game for Wallace. It might be more of a 2 catch, 64 yard with a TD type of game. The Falcons young CBs have played very well. I’m beginning to trust them a little more each week. The Dolphins’ offensive line has been better than expected. Johnathan Martin was a guy I had written off but has been average, which has been good enough.
I just think this is a bad matchup for Matt Ryan. Julio Jones is a monster but Brent Grimes is a tough matchup for him and the safeties are tough. This might be a game where the first team to 20 points wins. I think that’s Miami.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
These teams are sort of mirror images of each other. Rookie QBs with talented and well coached 3-4 defenses. The difference between the two are the playmakers that EJ Manuel has at his disposal.
Manuel is still being kept on a leash and against a defense like the Jets, I don’t expect that leash to get any longer this week. The Jets are very multiple and send blitzers from all over the place. I don’t think the Bills staff will give too complicated of a gameplan this week or else Manuel could end up putting the ball in the hands of the Jets more than his own team. And really, the same could be said for Geno Smith.
I think the Jets’ front seven is better than the Bills’ front seven. Bills’ LT Cordy Glenn has quietly been one of the best left tackles of the league this year but this is his toughest test so far.
I think both teams would be smart to run the ball excessively. These defenses are too good to trust either of these QBs to throw the ball all over the place. The QB that makes the most mistakes loses this game. Based on the difference in playmakers, I think the Bills come out on top.
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers
The addition of Trent Richardson is a great one for the Colts. He adds another element to this offense that needs it. The problem is that his first game is against a great San Francisco run defense.
I won’t spend a lot of words on this game because I think the Colts are mismatched. I like their playmakers and that’s a solid matchup for them against a 49ers secondary that is only average to this point – though Eric Reid has been great. The real issue here is that Andrew Luck is forcing the ball way too much. Luck is a risk taker and it only seems to be getting more prominent. He passes up shorter throws to hit bigger ones. Sometimes it works but more often than not he’s taking shots that aren’t great percentages over throws that get his team first downs. He’s a smart player but he needs to bring his vision back in a little bit.
San Francisco shouldn’t have a problem running the ball or throwing the ball this game. If Indy comes with some unique blitz concepts then they could get to Kaepernick a little bit but that leaves them vulnerable on the backside. I think San Francisco is just a vastly better team and should win this game easily.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks
This looks like a massive mismatch on paper and it really is. The Jaguars stayed on the west coast this week after facing Oakland last week. This is normal for NFL teams who play back to back games on the opposite coast. It lessens the strain on the body and also provides more time to practice and meet versus flying back and forth.
I think that this game deserves a look because Jaguars’ head coach Gus Bradley has an intimate knowledge of the Seahawks and they’re staff and players. This isn’t to be overlooked. He knows what they want to do. The problem is that Bradley doesn’t have the personnel to matchup pretty much anywhere. It will be an interesting game to watch in terms of how Gus approaches it. It’s something I would study to see how he thinks Seattle should be attacked.
Seattle should still win this one easily, but don’t be surprised if this is much closer than everyone thinks.by