"Chuck Knocks" is back for another season, but the first time in five years our Seahawk Opponent Training Camp Previews will live on our website. Fear not, The Feltsulator is coming with us to the website. Game by game, Jackson Felts will simulate the entire 2020 season (not sure he can take the fans out of the stands, so sorry about the lack of authenticity). I'll handle the rest...
Week 1: ATLANTA FALCONS
THE INTERESTING SCALE: C+
The Falcons were 7-9 last season, a notch below mediocre. The 2019 Atlanta offense was above average, the defense slightly below. There was talk that HC Dan Quinn and his slightly better than 500 career record might be gone since he's had three cracks to remind us of that rocket-ship of a squad that should have won the Super Bowl in 2016-17, but hasn't looked nearly the same since Kyle Shanahan left for San Francisco. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones continue as the heart of the Atlanta franchise, but this team will require more than new uniforms to regain the reputation as a team to watch.
THE NEW FACE AT CAMP: TODD GURLEY
Time moves fast. Time for an NFL Running Back must feel like entering a wormhole. A year and half ago, Todd Gurley was in the conversation for "best player in football". Next thing you knew he was watching much of the Rams' Super Bowl run from the bench, backing up CJ Anderson's tank ass. In 2019, Gurley was supposedly over his injury issues, and his ongoing lack of touches/production was continuously chalked up to "pacing for the long haul." This offseason, the Rams couldn't even find a trade partner for the highly paid former MVP candidate. He was cut. A few days later the Falcons rolled the dice with a one-year, $5-million contract for a 25-year old Running Back the football world seems to believe is already washed up.
STAR OF FALCONS CAMP: DANTE FOWLER
Just like the Seahawks, only the lowly Miami Dolphins had fewer sacks last season than the Atlanta Falcons. And while Jadeveon Clowney can't fetch a decent offer in free agency, Dante Fowler cashed in on a 3-year, $48 million deal. The Falcons are clearly banking on another double-digit sack season from Fowler to bring an immediate fix to a pass rush that hasn't produced since Vic Beasley led the league in sacks in 2016. Beasley hasn't posted more than eight sacks in a season since, and now he's a Titan. Fowler & Grady Jarrett won't be Fowler & Aaron Donald, but they could give Atlanta the 1-2 inside-outside punch to mend their bleeding pass rush. And if they don't, it's another 16-game session of mediocrity for Dan & the Dirty Birds.
FANTASY PICK: MATT RYAN
He's not as sexy as some other young dual-threat quarterbacks around the league, but he's steadier than you might realize. Once again, the Falcons threw more passes than any other team in the NFL last season. With Jones doing Julio things, and Calvin Ridley perhaps on the verge of bigger and better results, Ryan should throw enough, and throw well enough, to warrant starter status in your league. And if you can wait long enough, he might just prove the kind of draft steal that helps you win your league.
New Orleans and Tampa Bay both seem to outclass the Falcons in the NFC South. I was one that believed it was time for Dan Quinn to go. Arthur Blank did not. But after the Falcons post another mediocre season this fall, Blank might have no other choice.
SEAHAWKS AT ATLANTA: WHAT WILL BE SAYING MONDAY MORNING?
I hate that the Hawks drew Atlanta in Week One. I'd much rather face this team when they realize they're trapped in another lackluster season, as opposed to meeting them in week one when all of the NFL has Super Bowl dreams and believe that a lightning-in-a-bottle season starts with an early spark. I'm going with a Seahawk win. But like Cincinnati to start last season, I think this one will be ugly, and I think we'll all be saying Monday morning that the Hawks should feel fortunate to come out of Georgia with a sloppy 26-24 win.
But who cares what I think, right? Only the Feltsulator knows for sure. So, without further delay...
To kick off the 2020 Feltsulator season, the Seattle Seahawks simply dominated. The Atlanta Falcons never stood a chance. In the first quarter, Chris Carson ran over the Falcons with touchdown runs of 35 and 27 yards, respectively. A safety gave Atlanta a couple early points, but by halftime, the Seahawks held a 17-9 lead. After a punt filled third quarter, the fourth's first play saw Seattle step on the throat of the Falcons with a three yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Phillip Dorsett (video). Atlanta got one score back late in the game, but the Seahawks held on to win 30-16 in the opening game of the 2020 Feltsulator season.
Russell Wilson: 20/26 for 238 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Matt Ryan: 16/32 for 197 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Chris Carson (POTG): 34 rushes for 187 yards and 2 TD
Todd Gurley: 18 rushes for 69 yards and 1 TD
Chris Carson: 6 receptions for 118 yards
Greg Olsen: 6 receptions for 61 yards
Phillip Dorsett: 5 receptions for 25 yards and 1 TD
DK Metcalf: 1 reception for 15 yards