Originally written on In The Neutral Zone  |  Last updated 11/17/14
Julio Jones could be poised for another huge game. (Daniel Shirey) The Atlanta Falcons are banged-up. Two players are lost for the season: defensive end Kroy Biermann with a torn Achilles and fullback Bradie Ewing with a separated shoulder. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon will be out eight weeks with a Lisfranc injury. Running back Steven Jackson has a thigh injury that could force him to miss up to four weeks. Left tackle Sam Baker (foot/knee), cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh), and wide receiver Roddy White (ankle) were all held out of practice on Wednesday. And now the Falcons (1-1) are tasked with going on the road to face a Miami Dolphins team in their home opener looking to start 3-0 for the first time since 2002. Atlanta will see two familiar faces on the other side of the ball: right tackle Tyson Clabo and cornerback Brent Grimes.  Clabo became a cap casualty in the offseason, and the Falcons were reluctant to meet Grimes’ demands, who was coming off a season-ending Achilles injury. Miami signed a slew of free agents in the offseason, but their top prize was the former Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver Mike Wallace. In Wallace’s debut with his new team, he had just one reception for 15 yards. The wide receiver apparently had a sit-down talk with his head coach, Joe Philbin, and he saw his role expand the following week as he caught nine passes for 115 yards and a score. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has started the season efficiently; he’s completing 65.3 percent of his passes as opposed to the 58.3 percent last season. However, being just two games into the season, it’s tough to say if that efficiency will hold up. Similar to last week, the Falcons will have to lean heavily on wide receiver Julio Jones and quarterback Matt Ryan. Last week against the St. Louis Rams, the duo hooked up 11 times for 182 yards and a score. In what will likely be a common theme throughout the year, the Falcons’ offensive line has struggled to protect Ryan. He’s been pressured on several of his passing attempts in the first two games, and those struggles should continue against the Dolphins who are tied for the league lead with nine sacks. Despite the amount of pressure Ryan has been under, he’s still completing 71.6 percent of his passes, which is good for second in the league. The last time the two teams met was in Week 1 of 2009 in the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won that game 19-7, and while I don’t expect the game to have a similar score, I do expect the Falcons to squeak by in a close game. Numbers Comparison Atlanta Falcons: Points Scored: 24.0 (13th) Total Offense: 380.0 (11th) Passing Offense: 318.0 (6th) Rushing Offense: 62.0 (26th) Points Allowed: 23.5 (17th) Total Defense: 420.0 (27th) Passing Defense: 346.5 (29th) Rushing Defense: 73.5 (9th) Miami Dolphins: Points Scored: 23.5 (14th) Total Offense: 336.5 (21st) Passing Offense: 276.0 (14th) Rushing Offense: 60.5 (28th) Points Allowed: 15.0 (4th) Total Defense: 369.5 (19th) Passing Defense: 279.5 (20th) Rushing Defense: 90.0 (13th)
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