The Falcons mantra coming into the season was "Super Bowl or Bust". After a slew of injuries, the new mantra might be "survive and advance".
Against the Dolphins, the Falcons will be without starters Sam Baker, Sean Weatherspoon, Bradie Ewing, Kroy Biermann and Steven Jackson. The Falcons also list Julio Jones, Roddy White, Asante Samuel and Cliff Matthews as questionable. I expect Julio and Roddy to play but expect Asante not to play meaningful minutes.
The Dolphins come into this game 2-0 as they have won their first two games on the road. The Phins early wins have been against the Browns (we all know how horrible they are) and the Colts. The Phins defense won the game for them against the Colts as they intercepted Andrew Luck to end one drive in the fourth and then they sacked him to end the last Colts threat.
Here are the keys for the Falcons to win this game:
– Protect Matt Ryan. This will be more difficult than usual because of the loss of Sam Baker. The OL doesn't have to play a perfect game but they do need to keep Ryan upright and give him a little bit of time to hit his weapons.
– Get something out of the running game. The Falcons won last week despite just 36 yards rushing. But they did have two TDs from their RBs (Steven Jackson caught a TD before he got hurt and Jason Snelling took in a late TD). Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers need to provide something for the Falcons offense today, whether it's on the ground or in the receiving game.
– Don't give up big plays. The Falcons need to limit big plays by the Dolphins and make them work the ball down the field in small chunks. The more the Falcons do this, the more likely it is that the Phins will make a mistake.
– Win the turnover battle. So far the Dolphins have 4 INTs and 2 forced fumbles with 1 recovery this season. That's a big reason why they sit at 2-0 (as well as getting to play the Browns). The Falcons need to take care of the football and not give the Phins any short field opportunities.
Even with the injuries, I do like the Falcons chances in this game. I think it will be a tight game where one or two plays will likely make the difference in the game. Can the Falcons 'Rise Up' and get one on the road with their backs against the wall?