To call the last week for the Falcons 'tumultuous' would be a huge understatement. Between mounting a big second half rally to beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday and then having to deal with head coach Mike Smith's heart scare following the game it's unfair to have them turn around and be ready for a Thursday night game, but unfortunately those are the breaks for Atlanta this week.
If there's a saving grace it's that they should be in for a fairly easy affair this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a game they're heavily favored in. Granted, the Jags just came off a big win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the Falcons are a much bigger test. For the second week in a row the defense will face a rookie QB, but first year signal caller Blaine Gabbert is no Cam Newton, and for that reason alone the Falcons should walk away from this game fairly unscathed.
Across the board Atlanta are favored by around 11 points, and this is easily surmountable for the Falcons. Matt Ryan is on a role right now, and quietly playing very good football even if he isn't getting any attention of the national stage. The reason the Jaguars were able to get the better of the Bucs last week was their ability to not only pressure Josh Freeman, but to force him to turn the ball over. The lack of ability or continuity on the Falcons' OL is definitely cause for concern, but Ryan has been around the block longer than Freeman and responds better to pressure. Last week he responded extremely well to the Panthers' pass rush, and there's little reason to think he wont fair the same way here. Jacksonville will struggle against the passing attack of Atlanta, as they simply don't have enough competent players in the secondary to account for White, Jones and Gonzalez.
The line on the game is 42.5 pts, and personally I'd take the under this week. I'm not confident the Jaguars will be able to score 15 pts on Thursday, and this game has the distinct feeling of one where the Falcons could get up early and grind out the rest of the game on the ground. With limited time to prepare I'm not sure the offense will be at its best, but I still feel it will be enough to get the W.
When it's all said and done I think the smart decision this week is to take the Falcons minus the points, but stick to the under- I just don't peg this to be a high scoring affair.