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Bucs Fan

Bucs players but up huge fantasy numbers in week 10 win. posted by Bucs Fan

After an otherwise dismal output during the beginning of the season, it was finally a great week to be a Bucs fantasy owner. Tampa Bay went with Josh McCown under center as the team squared off against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

The signal caller connected with his two favorite receivers on multiple occasions, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. Both receivers were integral to the Bucs offense as they came away with touchdowns.

For those who thought drafting rookie Mike Evans to their fantasy rosters was a risk, that risk has paid off as the wide out is coming off a multi-touchdown game and continued to add to his fantasy stock by racking up huge yards against the Falcons.

After a rocky start at the beginning of the season, the rookie has come on as of late and really shined as he's seen several targets and hit pay dirt to drive up fantasy points.

And as for Vincent Jackson, he is always a must have on anyone’s roster. Even if he has off weeks from time to time, and for those who might be frustrated at Vincent Jackson’s inability to get touchdown points, do not be discouraged. The Tampa Bay quarterback clearly views Vincent Jackson as his go-to wide-out moving forward, especially in the red zone, and owners should not drop him from their roster.

And for those owners who don’t have McCown and are able to pick him up, this is the week to do so. With McCown playing in a week when most teams are on a bye, and his desire to build a bond with both Evans and Jackson, expect huge numbers in the coming weeks as the Bucs take on the Washington Redskins and the Chicago Bears in the next two weeks.

Continue reading "Bucs players but up huge fantasy ..."

Falcons Fan

Atlanta Falcons: Division Title Still Possible with Improvement from Key Spots posted by Falcons Fan

While some have given up on the Falcons making the playoffs this season, it is still way too early to discredit them from the discussion. In fact, they can still win their division if they fix a few key areas moving forward in the second half of the season.

Luckily, they can make these changes in an otherwise easier part of their schedule as they face softer NFC South teams and their games against tougher opponents are at home.

First, divisional tiebreakers are huge.

Atlanta shouldn’t and can’t worry about winning every game they play the second half of the season. Instead, they should concentrate their efforts on their two divisional tiebreakers with the Bucks and Saints. All they need to do is match records with either of those teams and they are in.

Offensive Line Needs to Stick With Its Latest Configuration

Atlanta played extremely well along the offensive line but with injuries to Joe Hawley, Lamar Holmes and Justin Blalock, the Falcons went from a team that looked like it could be a better version of the 2012 iteration to terrible.

If Atlanta wants to get its best group out there for the rest of the season, it's going to be one that has first-round pick Jake Matthews, Blalock, Stone, big-time free agent Jon Asamoah and Schraeder as the starting offensive linemen. That would give Atlanta its most athletic line and one that seems to communicate well against stunts.

With a bye week and extra week of practice to get even more on the same page, this line should do even better against the Bucs than it did against the Lions. And that will be the biggest key for the Falcons to make a run at the division

Continue reading "Atlanta Falcons: Division Title Still ..."

Falcons Fan

Can the Atlanta Falcons win the Superbowl this year? posted by Falcons Fan

The Falcons were a woeful 4-12 last season, and quarterback Matt Ryan had to make do with a depleted roster. Wide receivers Julio Jones, Roddy White,  and running back Steven Jackson missed significant time last year. Jones and White have reported to training camp looking spry, although the team will miss Tony Gonzales who had retired in the offseason. Jackson, 31, is aging rapidly so the team should look for other options like fourth-round pick Devonta Freeman.

To address issues on their offense particularly giving more protection to Ryan, the team hired former bears offensive line coach Mike Tice. The team also signed Jon Asamoah with the hopes of bolstering the interior of their front. Asamoah is a veteran blocker who is expected to start immediately at right guard, joining holdovers Joe Hawley and Justin Blalock. Meanwhile, there is optimism that number six overall pick Jake Matthews will contribute right away at right tackle.

The Falcons front office did not only improve the team’s offensive line but also added some key free agents in hopes of boosting their defense. Two free agent signings, Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai, figure to help the Falcons defense. Jackson is a monstrous run-stuffer while Soliai is considered an upgrade at nose tackle. Second round pick Ra’Shede Hageman has a lot of upside but he’s expected to play behind Jonathan Babineaux.

The Falcons also lost former first-rounder Sean Weatherspoon to a torn Achilles last June. Weatherspoon also missed alt of time last year, so that deprives the team of another real defensive starter.

Continue reading "Can the Atlanta Falcons win the Superbowl ..."

Joe Anello

Free Agency 2013: Days Two and Three posted by Joe Anello

Welcome back everyone! I would have posted this last night but the lack of sleep Monday night really caught up with me. Now I’m back and ready to pick apart the transactions of days two and three of NFL free agency. Let’s get that money man!

OG Gosder Cherilus signs a 5-year, $34 million deal with Indianapolis Colts.
Additional signings: OG Donald Thomas (4 years, $14 million), LB Erik Walden (4 years, $16 million), S LaRon Landry (4 years, $24 million)

This is a group of Colt signings that I didn’t discuss in the day one recap because I was exhausted and there were too many to address. Cherilus was overpaid, but I get it. Thomas’ deal is tolerable and revamps the interior of their line. I don’t feel confident that Walden’s contract will prove to be money well spent. Still, signing Landry as well gives Chuck Pagano a play-making safety in his secondary. The Colts are spending, but not as crazily as the Dolphins.

WR Wes Welker signs a 2-year, $12 million deal with the Denver Broncos

Okay, I have a LOT to say about this deal. I took to Twitter to express my thoughts shortly after the news broke, but I felt utterly hindered by the 140-character limit. I was really upset by the news that New England only offered Welker $10 million (including incentives). He’s only been one of the hardest workers on your team for the past six seasons and this is how he gets rewarded? EFF YOU PATS.

Welker’s caught 100 balls in his entire run with the Pats and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. So imagine my surprise when I heard the Broncos only had to pay him $12 million… for two years!  If he, in this odd-as-hell receiver market, shouldn’t get more than $6M a year, I obviously don’t know football.

Continue reading "Free Agency 2013: Days Two and Three"

Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: Super Bowl XLVII posted by Joe Anello

The time for talk is over. (Well, almost.) The time for football is now. (Well, a bit later.) The time for beet and food is now? (Yes. That is accurate.) After taking apart the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens earlier in the week, we are now ready for The Opening Drive of Super Bowl 47!


Super Bowl XLVII

(13-6) Baltimore Ravens at
(15-4-1) San Francisco 49ers
6:30 PM ET, CBS 

San Francisco’s Offense vs. Baltimore’s Defense

After seeing Colin Kaepernick tear apart a hapless Green Bay front seven for 181 rushing yards, the Atlanta Falcons overcompensated and kept the QB in the pocket the entire game. Unfortunately, that left Frank Gore in the clear on read-option plays, on which he scored two touchdowns. Kaepernick picked the Atlanta secondary apart in the second half of that contest, proving he has accuracy to go with the arm strength and mobility. The Raven defense excels at maintaining their edges, meaning they don’t let the ball-carrier get outside of them to the sidelines. They like funneling the ball back inside so Ray Lewis can get inflated tackle numbers. (Which he does.) But what do they do against the read-option? Crash the corners and use the safeties to cover? Assign a defensive end to lay out the QB while a linebacker fills in against the running back? The Ravens have had two weeks to prepare for this mobile QB, so I’d be surprised if he busted too many long runs against them. Instead, we’re probably going to see a lot of Frank Gore and LaMichael James used to test Lewis as the game wears on.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: Super Bowl XLVII"

Joe Anello

The Final Drive: 2013 Conference Championships posted by Joe Anello

Conference Championship Sunday left two teams in sheer jubilation while two other squads will be left at home for the Super Bowl. Let’s take a look at how two road teams pulled out the win in The Final Drive!

(13-4-1) San Francisco 49ers 28

(14-4) Atlanta Falcons 24

The first quarter of this game looked almost exactly the same as the Falcons’ last game, with a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. San Francisco mounted a whopping -2 yards on offense in the opening frame, stifled by a Falcon defense that had a surprisingly decent pass rush in the quarter.

Julio Jones came out ready to play for keeps, racking up over 100 yards in the first quarter. He was held relatively in check for the rest of the game, totaling “only” 182 yards. Matt Ryan seemed to be able to expose the Niner secondary all day, especially safety Dashon Goldson, who was torched by Jones on his first score. A second crazy catch by Jones to start the second quarter made the score 17-0 in favor of Atlanta. Luckily the Niner offense figured it out eventually, getting two touchdowns in the second period to make the game competitive again. But after the Falcons drove right back down in the two minute drill to pull away at 24-14, I was left to wonder: where was that vaunted Niner defense everyone kept telling me about? I think they forgot that this was an elimination game. Someone must have told them at halftime, because San Fran’s defense came out and utterly shut down the dirty birds.

As their Niner defense tightened, recovering a fumbled snap to Ryan, Colin Kaepernick and the offense thrived. Kaep continued to make key passes from inside the pocket. The read-option plays became deadly, especially at the goal line, where Frank Gore scored two rushing touchdowns. The Niners went up 28-24 in the middle of the fourth quarter and never looked back.

Continue reading "The Final Drive: 2013 Conference Championships"

Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: 2013 Conference Championships posted by Joe Anello

Okay everybody, Conference Championship Sunday is here and I could not be any more excited. Aside from the drama that is surrounding each of these fantastic games (you know, because whoever wins plays in that little Super Bowl), I’m also 3-5 on my picks going into the day, meaning the only way I get above .500 for the postseason is if I get everything right from here on out. No pressure. There’s been some movement on these lines (San Fran got a lot of juice and is now a four point favorite. Baltimore saw some action while the line was at 9 points, whittling it down to 7.5), so as an FYI I’m picking against the spread as the odds are currently, not where they began. Let’s stop prattling on and get into The Opening Drive!

*As always, lines pulled from 


(12-4-1) San Francisco 49ers at

(14-3) Atlanta Falcons

3:00 PM ET, FOX

You’re going to be hard-pressed to find any unit in this game that favors the Falcons. The Niner offensive line is playing the best of any unit still in the playoffs, as they’ve been utterly dominating defensive fronts at the line of scrimmage. There’s a reason Colin Kaepernick ran utterly untouched against the Packers. Even as he gets a bit older, Frank Gore is the best running back in this game. Michael Crabtree has been stepping up as of late, looking at times like the number one receiver he was always supposed to be. Randy Moss is a somewhat credible threat on the outside, but this team really suffers from the loss of Mario Manningham. But Kaepernick might be able to reproduce a similar performance from last week with the benefit of a dome and faster turf. Without a fully healthy John Abraham (ankle), are the Falcons

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: 2013 Conference Championships"

Joe Anello

The Final Drive: 2013 Divisional Round posted by Joe Anello

The 2013 Divisional Round is completed! The best weekend in football lived up to the hype, with crazy finishes (double overtimes) and historic performances. Let’s not put off this any longer. It’s time for The Final Drive!

(12-6) Baltimore Ravens 38

(13-4) Denver Broncos 35

After the Ravens were forced to punt on their opening possession, this game got crazy… fast. Trindon Holliday took that punt return back 90 yards for the first score. A 59-yard pass to a streaking Torrey Smith (who was torching Champ Bailey deep most of the day) from Joe Flacco tied the game up. On Denver’s ensuing drive, a pass from Peyton Manning tipped off the hands of Eric Decker into the arms of Corey Graham, who boomeranged it to make the score 14-7 Ravens. Manning took the ball right back and marched his team 74 yards in 11 plays, ending with a pinpoint pass to old friend Brandon Stokley on the side of the endzone. 14-14. Were you still breathing at this point? A score from both teams in the second quarter kept the game tied at 21 going into halftime. And the drama did not subside in the start of a crazy NFL weekend.

Denver Head Coach John Fox will (and should) catch a lot of flak for not even attempting to try to get in field goal range with two timeouts and 20-plus seconds left on the clock. (As we would see later in the weekend, that’s not an impossible feat to accomplish.) Fox got extremely conservative in the offensive play-calling, leaning on the run too often when he had one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time on the field. (Though doesn’t Peyton have full authority to change those calls at the line? Hm.) Not going for a third down conversion late in the fourth allowed the Ravens to get the ball back with just enough time to make something happen. And they certainly did.

Continue reading "The Final Drive: 2013 Divisional Round"

Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: 2013 Divisional Round posted by Joe Anello

Alright everyone, it’s my favorite football weekend of the entire season! At this point we have the eight best teams left in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy, including the two greatest QB’s of our era in the AFC and a crazy Saturday night rematch in the NFC. I have stumbled out of the gates with my picks, currently standing at 1-3 after the wild card round. I owe that to every favorite covering last week and my apparently desperate need to pick against almost all of them. This week shall be different! I hope. Let’s get to The Opening Drive of the Divisional Round! (As always, point spreads are obtained from


(11-6) Baltimore Ravens at

(13-3) Denver Broncos

4:30 PM ET, CBS

This is the first of two AFC rematches that were completely one-sided in the first go-rounds. The Broncos slapped around the Ravens 34-17 in week 15, part of their 11-game winning streak to end the regular season and claim the one seed. In that game, Peyton Manning had very pedestrian numbers, but was bolstered by ground game that featured 45 carries, the most of any Manning team in his career. Their 163 yards pounded a then-short-staffed Raven defense. This game will be different, in that Baltimore is much healthier now. Ray Lewis is back, as is linebacker Danel Ellerbee. Still, the Raven corners are average at best, so they’re not going to be able to contain Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on the outside.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: 2013 Divisional Round"

Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: Week 12, 2012 posted by Joe Anello

With Thanksgiving taking up time with travel, family, and friends, I decided to forgo the now-typical Thursday posting of The Opening Drive. But don’t worry, week 12 in the NFL still has a few games worth checking out this weekend!

(6-4) Seattle Seahawks at

(4-6) Miami Dolphins

Wait, am I liking Seattle on the road? That’s a switch. Miami’s been disappointing in its last few outings, so another loss essentially eliminates them from the postseason picture. If Seattle can pound on Miami’s front seven with Marshawn Lynch, Russell will likely see his receivers in single coverage on the outside against lesser corners. That’s a recipe for success.

(9-1) Atlanta Falcons at

(6-4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Game of the day. Tampa Bay’s offense has been nearly dominant as of late, and they’re matching up against an Atlanta defense that can’t halt the run with any regularity. Doug Martin could be in line for a ridiculously awesome fantasy stat line today. Get him in your starting line-up. I really like the Bucs are home here.

(8-2) Baltimore Ravens at

(4-6) San Diego Chargers

I appreciate everyone thinking the Ravens are weak enough that they could travel across the country to San Diego... after a Sunday night game… against the always physical Steelers… and lose. Wait, I may have just talked myself into taking the Chargers. Wait, I’m taking the Chargers? Screw that noise. They’re terrible.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: Week 12, 2012"

Atlanta Falcons News

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Back at Boston College, Matt Ryan offers encouragement (Yahoo Sports)

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From Yahoo Sports

Boston College to retire jerseys of Ryan, Kuechly (Yahoo Sports)

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From Yahoo Sports

Vinatieri seals late Patriots win

New England Patriots leave it late to beat Atlanta Falcons - plus an NFL round-up. [read full article]

From BBC Sport

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