When Steve Sarkisian took over as offensive coordinator after Kyle Shanahan left the Falcons, head coach Dan Quinn announced that Sarkisian would maintain the offense designed by Shanahan.
When the Falcon’s offensive output declined by almost 30% in 2017, it was the implementation of “Sarkisian’s offense” that was blamed. Perhaps there was a bit of “mea-culpa” involved when Quinn assured Sarkisian he would be back in 2018.
There are obvious areas of concern. The team has to get touchdowns from Julio Jones. He can’t always be a red-zone decoy when he has the talent to bring in contested passes all day. Now that we know Jones will report to camp and play with a tweaked contract, plans to feed him the ball more can move forward.
First-round draft pick, Calvin Ripley, is expected to contribute to the receiving corps right away, too. If the rookie can establish himself as a threat alongside Mohamed Sanu, teams might have to think twice about triple-teaming Jones.
Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, and Matt Ryan enter the season anxious to recover the offense lost in 2017. With the added incentive of playing in the Super Bowl in their home stadium, it will be no surprise if Atlanta is a top offensive team in 2018.
Want to watch? NFL Live Streaming Options
NFL Sunday Ticket assures you won’t miss a single play of the 2018 Falcons’ season. For those of us who don’t want to spend so much money, there are less expensive options.
PS-Vue and Hulu With Live TV offer high-quality streaming subscriptions to NFL games on all four NFL channels (FOX, CBS, ESPN, and NBC). Free trials can get you started. PS-Vue is slightly more expensive but includes the NFL Network.
2018 Falcons Prediction:
Atlanta’s offense has been the focus of most pre-season analysis, but their defense will assure them a playoff spot in 2018. The Falcons were a top-ten scoring and yardage unit last season for the first time since 1998. They return nine starters and added a tall coverage corner in rookie Isaiah Oliver to handle the Mike Evans’ of the league.
They have been challenged to add more turnovers and finish as a top-five unit. Despite facing six teams that averaged more than 25 points per game last season, they might do it. Falcons go 11-5and grab a wild card.
NFL Week 6 Game Preview: Ravens vs Titans
NFL Week 6 Game Preview: Ravens (3-2) at Titans (3-2)
Their records indicate an even matchup, but when the Titans face the Ravens Sunday, they will have the advantage of being a team without a definitive identity playing a squad with a proven game plan.
Tennessee put themselves on top of the AFC South with creativity, as much as skill. They’ve survived an overtime thriller and a defensive slog. But, they lost an opening day shootout and come off a bitter last-second loss in another defensive gem.
What kind of team are the Titans? They are a running team that is not running well. They have a franchise quarterback who can’t carry them. Scrappy is the term that comes to mind when we see the manner in which they play. Never out of it, but never quite in control, either.
Meanwhile, Baltimore tries to exert authority behind a powerful defense and a veteran offense. Sometimes it works… and sometimes they lose a field goal battle to the Browns like they did in Week 5.
Both teams will try to rebound from unexpected losses to boost their 2018 playoff aspirations. But can the Baltimore defense keep the scrappy Titans under control? Can the scrappy Titans defense give Joe Flacco and company another week of disappointment?
Injuries and roster moves
Baltimore has three cornerbacks among five defensive players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Brandon Carr missed practice Wednesday and appears to be at risk for the game against the Titans.
Tennesse has a similar issue at linebacker. Wesley Woodyard, Robert Spillane, and Will Compton are all listed as questionable.
Safety Kenny Vaccaro is already ruled out for Week 6.
Offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is questionable with a foot injury.
The Ravens 3-2 start has lessened discussions about John Harbaugh’s future after his 11th season in charge. Harbaugh followed up five straight years of playoff appearances with a Super Bowl Championship in 2012, but that was six years and only two winning records ago.
With long-time general manager Ozzie Newsome already announcing his retirement at the end of this season and a quarterback change imminent, Harbaugh’s departure would make a new regime truly complete.
Mike Vrabel’s first coaching experience hasn’t been easy, but he is getting the most out of a flawed team. Already, he’s adeptly worked around injuries to his quarterback and lead rusher, as well as a malcontent in the receiving corps to keep his team’s playoff aspirations in play.
How to watch the Ravens-Titans game
CBS will provide this late-game broadcast to fans in and around Tennessee and the greater Baltimore area. Many fans will watch the CBS Sports broadcast on Sling TV without the need for expensive cable or satellite providers.
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Who will win the Ravens-Titans game?
Baltimore is hoping division rival Pittsburgh the best this week as a Steelers victory could let the Ravens pull into a first-place tie with the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFC North if Baltimore can take care of the Titans.
Tennessee owns the AFC South tiebreaker with 3-2 Jacksonville, with another head-to-head battle still pending. They need a win to hold onto first place in the meantime.
The home fans in Nashville are anxious to see their Titans crack the tough Baltimore defense, but the odds seem to favor Baltimore holding serve.
Final score: Baltimore 17, Titans 12
NFL Week 6 Game Preview: Chiefs vs Patriots
Sunday Night Football features the greatest quarterback of all time against the greatest quarterback of the young 2018 season. Tom Brady will host young Patrick Mahomes in Week 6’s most anticipated matchup.
Brady comes off consecutive 38-point outings against the Dolphins and Colts. The return of Julian Edelman and emergence of rookie rusher Sony Michel stabilized a shaky Patriots offense in time for the second quarter of the season.
Mahomes just put 30 points up against what was the top-rated defense in the league. He continues his assault on Peyton Manning’s season touchdown record.
Kansas City’s defense came alive last week, with five turnovers and several important stops when Jacksonville’s offense looked like it might start revving up. Any semblance of defense could keep the Chiefs unbeaten for years with the way its offense is playing.
Kansas City didn’t even need Tyreek Hill to pile up his usual yardage and scoring totals to keep their winning streak alive at 5. Running back Kareem Hunt had a slow start but emerged as a vital component of the Chiefs attack in Week 4.
Brady, the master craftsman, doesn’t need the explosive weapons the upstart from the Midwest surrounds himself with. He’ll bring a cadre of veterans with him who know a thing or two about winning football games.
Injuries and roster moves
Kansas City put guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and safety Armani Watt on injured reserve Wednesday. Coach Andy Reed all but ruled out linebacker Justin Houston (hamstring) for Sunday’s tilt.
Safety Eric Berry got limited practice time in this week, but it will be at least another week before he gets back on the field.
In New England, wide receivers Josh Gordon and Chris Hogan, tight end Rob Gronkowski, and running back Sony Michel were all limited in practice Wednesday. The quartet is listed as questionable, but it would be a surprise if any of them was not active Sunday night.
Two of the longest tenured head coaches go head-to-head in this classic matchup. Offensive guru Andy Reid versus the defensive scientist, Bill Belichick.
Both coaches are future Hall-of-Famers when they most likely leave the game on their own terms. Each calls the other a genius. They’ll bring their best stuff to New England this week.
How to watch the Patriots-Chiefs game
NBC Sports broadcasts Sunday Night Football across the nation and overseas. Millions of Americans fed up with rising satellite and cable costs will follow the NBC broadcast on their favorite internet device instead.
Sling, Fubo TV, and DirecTV Now are just some of the internet TV providers offering a low-cost alternative to traditional television service. They provide all the NFL-related networks in most regions of the US at a fraction of the costs of cable and satellite.
With free trials and low monthly subscription rates, there’s no reason not to cut the cord and start watching live stream NFL action on Sling, Fubo TV, or DirecTV Now.
Who will win the Patriots-Chiefs game?
Pat Mahomes could give an early victory to the young guns trying to steal the mantle from their veteran counterparts. But Tom Brady has made it clear he has no intention of going away quietly.
Both defenses look improved from just a couple of weeks ago, but they haven’t faced quarterbacks nearly as skillful as this pair.
Each passer looks unstoppable, but each coach will find a moment to introduce something new or unexpected. Brady’s experience gives him the edge in a battle of the coaches’ wits.
Final score: Patriots 38, Chiefs 31
NFL Week 5: Falcons vs Steelers Game Preview
Pittsburgh has their first game out of the national spotlight in three weeks, facing the Falcons at home in the early set Sunday.
Baltimore shut down the Steelers for the most part last week, allowing 14 points in a short stretch of the first half, before clamping down in their 26-14 victory.
Pittsburgh doesn’t anticipate a repeat performance against a Falcons defense that just gave up 80 points over two weeks to the Saints and Bengals.
Atlanta lost both of those games despite scoring 74 points of their own. Their defense is struggling after the loss of three starters since opening day. They could not make late-game stops that could have provided a win in either of the two contests.
Ben Roethlisberger has to be anxious to put last week’s struggles behind him against the Falcons secondary. Pittsburgh’s diminished running attack in the absence of Le’Veon Bell shouldn’t matter much in this game.
Matt Ryan undoubtedly looks forward to facing the Steelers secondary, too. Atlanta’s passing game has new life with the addition of rookie Calvin Ridley. Mohamed Sanu and Julio Jones find themselves more open. Even tight end Austin Hooper is seeing a few passes.
Running back Devonta Freeman will also return to the Falcons lineup after missing a few weeks with a knee injury. Freeman and Tevin Coleman are no liability in the pass game, either.
This could come down to which front line can put the most pressure on the opposing passer. Neither team can hold coverage very long in a normal game, but with the plethora of passing targets on the field, the defensive secondaries could be exhausted by halftime.
If you like offense, this could be a fun game to watch.
How to watch the Steelers vs Falcons game:
Fox Sports will produce this early game and broadcast it in much of the Southeast and up into the Pittsburgh market for cable and satellite television viewers.
Millions of savvy NFL fans will follow the live stream of Pittsburgh-Atlanta on Sling TV or DirecTV Now. Fubo TV also offers live stream NFL action in most US markets.
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Check out the providers’ websites to see what they offer in your neighborhood.
Who will win the Steelers vs Falcons game?
Atlanta is desperate for a win after their two consecutive heartbreakers left them 1-3 and at the bottom of the NFC South standings. They face division rival Tampa Bay next week before the Giants send them on their bye.
Pittsburgh already has a loss and a tie in their division and don’t the 3-1 Bengals or Ravens to extend their lead. With rumors of a Le’Veon bell return coming soon, they want to stay close enough for it to matter.
Atlanta’s passing attack was ramped up when Freeman was injured. How the Falcon offense approaches this game could make a difference. With the problem their defense has stopping the ball, we expect them to keep the pedal down and chase points.
Roethlisberger is at home, which means the “good” Ben should show up. There is a little concern about the beating he took the past two weeks and the letdown of a “normal” game.
But that will prove to be unfounded. Pittsburgh’s defense will come through one more time than the Falcons’. But it will be fun. Final score: Steelers 44, Falcons 38