The Case For The Atlanta Falcons: This team’s playoff birth used to completely ride on whether or not Julio Jones was healthy or not, but I think this team has finally started to see some balance on both sides of the ball. The Falcons have established a solid run game by committee with Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. And they have a Defense that will keep getting better under the leadership of Dan Quinn. In the draft they shored up that Defense even more by taking Takkarist McKinley, a solid pass rusher who will be able to provide pressure opposite the side of Vic Beasely. And then on top of that, they got Damontae Kazee and Duke Riley who aren’t going to carry your Defense but from scouting reports will be great at covering the slot against third down passing situations.
This team is becoming more and more balanced and they are becoming the favorite to repeat in the NFC, but what will truly make the difference as we have seen each year is if Julio Jones can stay healthy late in the season. This team can now compete without him but in regards to leading a team to Super Bowl victory, that will all depend on whether or not Julio Jones is healthy.
The Case For the Dallas Cowboys: This hurts to type because this is a team that is always picked every year, but honestly I think this could be the year. We have seen the Sophomore slump a lot with different star players, but we haven’t seen a Sophomore slump that will be supported by this O-Line. Best Position Corp. of any Corp. in football. Even if Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott digress, they are going to be supported by an Offensive Line that will create time, holes, and protection to work out some of those Sophomore growing pains.
If the Dallas Cowboys didn’t draft a player with off the field issues, did they even draft? They got that with the tainted but talented Jourdan Lewis from Michigan. But IF the domestic violence chargers are dropped and Lewis is innocent, the Dallas Cowboys could really be dangerous on the other side of the ball. They got Lewis’ teammate Taco Charlton as a strong DE pass rusher as well as Chidobe Awuzie (CB) and Xaiver Woods (S) to help beef up the secondary. And the fun thing in an interview with Jim Harbaugh and MLIVE, is that since Harbaugh runs a NFL style team, he believes that his style is going to benefit his players in a faster transition to the NFL. Obviously a coach will say whatever to get his player drafted, but in Harbaugh’s defense, he is a coach who has been proven at all levels of the game.
With the improvements on Defense, I believe that you create a winning formula with getting the stops on Defense and handing it back to the Offense to let the O-Line and the Run Game continue to tire out the Opposing Defense. That cyclical process that they are creating in Dallas was everything I wanted for the Vikings, which they reached in 2009 before the band broke up and they could not repeat.
Conclusion: I think this would be a great NFC Conference Championship Game. We have two younger defenses on both sides of the ball and you have two strong offenses that specialize in two different styles of moving the ball. Now this is where I think Julio Jones shows his impact. If Julio Jones is in, I take the Atlanta Falcons all day. If he is hurt, that will slow down Atlanta’s Offense and allow Dallas to dictate their tempo of Offense and not be forced to pass earlier than they need to if they go down early to Atlanta’s aerial attack.
In closing, I do think the NFC is still a toss up. Some Dark Horses that I like are Philly, NYG, and who knows… maybe Carson Palmer can break his curse in the postseason because that is really the only hesitation that I have with picking Arizona.