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NFL Two-a-Days on Mike & Mike


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5 BIG QUESTIONS:

1) Matt Ryan's an impressive 33-13 during the regular season, but 0-2 in the playoffs. Does he need a playoff win to be considered one of the NFL's best?

Mike Golic: "Yeah, you know I put him in the category of a young Tony Romo: Doing really well in the regular season but not getting it done yet in the postseason. Now, we have less to go on here, especially in the regular season. But he's 0-2 in the playoffs, three touchdowns, four interceptions. Falcons have been outscore 78-45 in those games.

"But remember; GB just put it on 'em in Atlanta and GB scored a ton of points in that one. But yeah, I think to go to that next level, you have to start getting some playoff wins."

Mike Greenberg: "And in their previous playoff game, he was a rookie, and they were in Arizona with a Cardinals team that was 30 seconds away from winning a Super Bowl that year. So, sometimes those things -- look, you can make those stats say whatever you want to say. Ryan doesn't need anything to be considered a top-level quarterback -- he IS that.

"If he wants to go to another level, obviously you gotta start winning some games in January. Next question."

2) What kind of an impact will new DE Ray Edwards have on the Falcons defense?

Golic: "Well, five seasons, 29.5 career sacks, 16.5 in the last two years. Listen, he fits the mold. It's an under-sized defense. He's a 265-66 pounder who rushes off the edge. You know you got John Abraham out there, obviously, doing an excellent job for them as well as one of the edge rushers. He had 13 sacks last year, so that's what they want.

"They want speed; they wanna go sideline to sideline; they wanna put edge pressure on the QB, make him step up. And Ray Edwards now... now, MN didn't sign him back, so they actually thought his backup was gonna be an emerging guy. So they let him get away. So they don't think as highly of him, but he fits the mold of that ATL defense."

Greenberg: "Absolutely. Playing indoors on that turf; speed on the outside. That's the key. I like that signing."

3) Do the Falcons need to cut back on Michael Turner's carries so he will be more effective in playoffs?

Golic: "334 carries, 12 TDs, just under 1400 yards. He is a workhorse. He is a sturdy RB. But the RB position is the position where the shelf life is the shortest and he is taking a lot of hits"

Greenberg: "Well I think they need to cut back on his carries to extend his career. But as far as the playoffs, again, look at his playoff numbers from the playoff game last year. GB had a hundred points at halftime."

Golic: "Exactly right. That had nothing to do with it. ATL had to pass to get back into that game. You're right, it's more for his career than anything else. You can't have that many carries for that many years. It's just not gonna happen anymore."

4) Is Roddy White the best WR in the NFL?

Golic: "He's in the top-5, he's not the best. I have Andre Johnson; I have Larry Fitzgerald; I have Roddy White in there; I have Calvin Johnson somewhere in there. So, maybe third or fourth. He's right there. He deserves to be. I mean, he has been absolutely amazing. You add Julio Jones to that mix as well. You still have Tony Gonzalez, who's a heck of a target for you.

"We've talked about, 'This team is loading up for right now.'"

Greenberg: "If the rookie is as good as advertised, that should roll a little bit of the coverage away from Roddy White and scary as this may seem, make him even better."

5) Projections for the Atlanta Falcons this season.

Greenberg: "It's funny to say I'm taking them down a win, but I still love them. I have them at 12-4. It's kinda hard to pick these outliers. Clearly, they're going to be terrific. I think barring injury, I think there's no reason to think they're not gonna be right there.

"People talk about the Eagles and the Packers in either order as the top-2 teams in the NFC. I put ATL right there with those, though I go 12-4."

Golic: "They're good enough to make a run and get to the SB. I think they need for... when you're an undersized defense, one thing you need to do is pressure the QB and they were 20th in the League at that with 31 sacks. So they need to pick that -- Abraham had 13 of 'em -- so they need to pick that up. They need to get to the QB more.

Offensively, they have the firepower to do it. I have them at 12-4 as well."

Greenberg: "Put the fantasy spotlight on Matt Ryan. The new ESPN QB formula, actually has Matt Ryan as the third-best QB in the league last year, but he finished eighth in fantasy points. Now, Julio Jones on board, he has the potential to take another step forward in his fourth season."

Doug Gottlieb: "You hear Golic bring up Romo about having not won a playoff game... but if I'm gonna give Ryan, Romo, Bradford, Flacco and even Vick... How likely is Ryan to lead this team to that next level?

Herm Edwards: "Well, I think he's headed in the right direction. You talk about playoffs, how about Aaron Rodgers? A couple years ago, that's what people saying about Aaron Rodgers. He hadn't won a playoff game. So I just think it's a process and I think this guy will overcome that. Matt Ryan's a good quarterback, there's no doubt about it.

"When you look their offense last year, only six plays of 40 yards or more. That's not good enough. They were very methodical. Now, they didn't turn the ball over, they took the ball away -- plus 14, I think, in the giveaway/takeaway. But that's why they went up to get Julio Jones. This gives them another explosive weapon on the outside. Another guy that can play outside the numbers fast. You talk about Roddy White, Julio Jones, two big receivers.

"Now, you're in a little bit of a dilemma when you play them defensively in the fact they can run the ball with Turner inside and Tony Gonzalez, who plays good inside the hashes and in the redzone. You got some options."

Gottlieb: "I like that they brought Snelling back, too. Because that really gives them another back, take some of the pressure off. You will know very early in the season -- in fact, the first three games -- exactly how good they are coming out of the chute.

"You got to Chicago, and say what you want about the Bears -- I do think their schedule on paper looks more difficult than it is in actuality. B/c on paper, I would say, @CHI, PHI, GB, @IND as the most difficult games outside their division, which is a stacked division. As Tampa's a team that won 10 games...

"But you get Chicago before the weather gets bad. Though you get PHI, and that's going to be an interesting crowd in that Mike Vick still has as big a following in Atlanta as maybe he does in any city outside of Philadelphia. But at least you get Philly at home. And though they get GB, they get GB at home. Whereas New Orleans gets PHI on the road, gets GB on the road.

"And they go to Indy, but they have a bye-week before Indy. And they are a power running team which traditionally, if you don't get behind, you can beat Indy with power running. I don't hate their schedule like most people would."

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i'm sick of everyone bringing up the fact tampa won 10 games (almost all of them against bad teams). they lost to us BOTH times. close games, yes, but they haven't beat us since september 2008, ryan's 2nd game. i think we have their number and i think we're a FAR more talented team. i think they'll be good in the long run, but i see them regressing some this year like we did in 09.

our schedule really does not look that tough to me. i don't see us losing to chicago and i think the eagles will be very beatable when they come to the dome week 2. if we start off 2-0, look out.

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I really like our chances this year, if we can defend the spread passing attack better this year is our major question I think on defense. Our run D looks better than ever. I passing game looks more explosive. The question still remains about the pass defense.

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our schedule really does not look that tough to me. i don't see us losing to chicago and i think the eagles will be very beatable when they come to the dome week 2. if we start off 2-0, look out.

We win the Eagles game if our D-Line gets good penetration for the entire game.

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