1. Okay, first things first... What the hell happened in Atlanta?
Oh god, there was so much fire.
I think you had a roster playing over its head a little bit in the first five weeks, though we didn't know it at the time. I think the rest of the NFL caught on to what Atlanta was doing, and the coaching and talent isn't quite good enough to adjust to that. Kyle Shanahan hasn't been able to coax Matt Ryan out of his slump, Ryan's throwing bad picks at the worst possible time, the offensive line is disintegrating, and the Falcons might have the worst group of linebackers in the NFL. When you add it all up, you get a pretty lousy team going through a pretty lousy stretch.
2. What's the greatest deficiency on the Falcons offense? How should an opposing defensive coordinator game plan against it?
Right now, it's the entire passing game, but specifically the interior pass protection. Teams that can get in Matt Ryan's face within a couple of seconds are guaranteed to rattle him if they don't sack him outright, and this Falcons team doesn't have a talented enough group of receivers to bail him out. Pressure equals lost plays and turnovers, then, and scheming that pressure is the quickest way to beat this sorry team.
3. How are fans in Atlanta viewing this game? Is it pretty evenly matched to them, or does one side hold dominance to Falcons fans?
I think most Falcons fans expect Atlanta to lose. A lot of them exist in a world where the Jaguars are still complete garbage, but even so, no one's feeling all that optimistic.
The sense is that the Falcons are simply too ineffective on offense and have begun to break down on defense, so they shouldn't in any way be favored. Making the Jaguars one-dimensional on offense would be helpful and could keep this close, but personally, I don't think it'll be enough.
4. Is there a Jaguars player on either side of the ball that you say, "If the Falcons don't stop him, we're in trouble"?
I feel that way about both Hurns and Robinson for the Jags on offense. If the Falcons can't slow down two dynamic receivers of that caliber, there's a good chance you'll match or exceed the 38 points the Panthers dropped on the Falcons a week ago, decent ground assault or no.
On defense, I'm nervous about any linebackers who have ever intercepted the football. Matt Ryan seems to be throwing right to them of late.
5. What's your prediction for Sunday? Who's coming out of this one the winner?
The Jaguars! I'm saying 35-24, with the Falcons mustering a decent first half effort and falling off the pace in the second half, as they so often do these days. But I'm sure we'll have some laughs along the way.