Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins
The Atlanta Falcons and the Miami Dolphins meet for their preseason openers in the Georgia Dome on Friday Night. The Falcons are -3 favorites over the Dolphins with an over/under point total set at 33.5.
The Atlanta Falcons had the best record in the NFC last season but it all went for naught as they were routed at home in the playoffs by the Green Bay Packers. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see where ti went wrong for the Falcons, it was the pass rush and red zone defense, but have they done enough to improve it. Offensively Matt Ryan is emerging as one of the best QB’s in the NFL and he’ll be backed up by Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson, both of whom will see extensive action in the preseason. Michael Turner is entrenched as the starting Running Back and Jason Snelling was resigned as the backup but also returning are Gartrell Johnson and Antone Smith while Jacquizz Rodgers joins the fold and should add another element to the offense. Roddy White has emerged as one of the top targets in the NFL and the addition of Julio Jones should make him even more effective while Harry Douglas and special teams Pro Bowler Eric Weems will fight it out with a host of rookies and free agents. Tony Gonzalez gives it another go at Tight End and Justin Peele is set to serve as the backup. While the Falcons didn’t get the free agent they wanted in Defensive End Charles Johnson, they got Ray Edwards from the Vikings who isn’t a bad consolation prize and working on the other side of John Abraham should give them both a better chance to rush the passer.
The Miami Dolphins have been a team in transition for seemingly a decade and as they head into 2011 it still doesn’t feel like a team that is solid as to what direction they are headed. With offseason talks of acquiring Kyle Orton falling through Chad Henne is slated to start followed by Matt Moore who started several games for Carolina last season, Kevin O’Connell, and undrafted free agent Pat Devlin. At Running Back Reggie Bush is listed as the starter but most agree it will be Daniel Thomas carrying the load with Lex Hilliard, Kory Sheets, and Nic Grigsby all looking for a chance to show what they can do to contribute. Brandon Marshall is healthy once again and he will look to return to form as one of the best in the game while Davone Bess is one of the best third down receivers and Brian Hartline is sure handed. Roberto Wallace, Brooks Foster, Julius Pruitt, Clyde Gates, Marlon Moore, Phillip Livas, and Patrick Carter all hope they just get a chance. Anthony Fasano is the Tight End and and Mickey Shuler is listed as the backup but don’t be surprised if the Dolphis turn to Charles Clay who is more versatile than any of the backups. There is very little difference between this Dolphins defense and the one we saw last year that was sixth in the NFL, at least as far as the starting unit and most notably Jason Taylor returns but plays behind Cameron Wake while Will Allen and Nolan Carroll back up Vontae Davis and Sean Smith at the corners.
The Falcons allowed all of 57 points last preseason while Miami allowed 76, two of the lowest totals while Miami scored 68 points over the four games and Atlanta scored 55. We aren’t going to see much scoring here.