Early Bird Report: A common theme with Falcons' first opponent and their next

The top Falcons headlines from around the country 

AF_20200913_SEAatATL_KH1_4070

The Seattle Seahawks were aggressive early and often in their Week 1 victory against the Atlanta Falcons, running the ball a total of just 20 times in the game matching their season low from 2019. The Falcons could be in for more of the same in Week 2.

In his weekly debrief of the first bit of NFL action, NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal reports a stat that The Athletic's Mike Sando uncovered.

"The Seahawks and Cowboys passed on the highest percentage of early down plays in the first 28 minutes in Week 1, according to Mike Sando of The Athletic," Rosenthal writes. "This is one way to measure how aggressive a passing game will be, and it's a measure where the Seahawks have consistently lagged well behind average despite the presence of their top-five NFL passer. If the Seahawks continue to play to [Russell] Wilson's strengths rather than simply wait for him to create fourth-quarter magic, they will look like a title contender."

Russell Wilson was extremely efficient throwing the ball against the Falcons, completing 31 of 35 attempts for 322 yards and four touchdowns. Up next, Atlanta faces Dak Prescott, who also had a good game in Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams. Although it wasn't as spectacular a performance as the one Wilson had, Prescott still completed 25 of his 39 attempts for 266 yards and a touchdown.

On the surface, Dallas's offensive identity seems to center around running back Ezekiel Elliott. But with three very good receivers in the fold and a self-professed analytically driven coach in Mike McCarthy, the Falcons should be ready for the Cowboys to continue to air it out.

Week 2 NFL picks

Both the Falcons and Cowboys enter Week 2 searching for their first win of the season. CBSSports.com writer John Breech picked Atlanta to upend Seattle in the season opener, but he's doubling down with the Falcons and selecting them again to knock off the Cowboys in Dallas. He predicts a high-scoring game that Atlanta will win 34-31.

"Usually, this is the part where I tell you that I've learned my lesson and that there's no way I'll be picking the Falcons to win again this week, but then I saw that Dan Quinn would be coaching against Mike McCarthy, which doesn't seem like a good thing for the Cowboys," Breech writes. "Since 2014, Quinn-coached teams are 5-1 against McCarthy-coached teams. That total includes two wins that Quinn picked up while he was defensive coordinator of the Seahawks and three wins that he picked up with the Falcons."

Former teammate Ezekiel Elliott an 'inspiration' for Oluokun

The upcoming game against Dallas carries some added meaning for third-year linebacker Foye Oluokun. Not only is it the team's next chance to earn their first win of the season, but he will get to go head-to-head against the player he used to block for in high school: Ezekiel Elliott. As freshmen, Oluokun was the fullback and Elliott was the running back on their football team. Elliott has since gone on to become one of the most productive backs in the NFL, while Oluokun has shown plenty of promise at linebacker for the Falcons. In a piece for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jason Butt further details their relationship ahead of this matchup.

"What makes him special is his competitive level," Oluokun said of Elliott. "He's had that ever since I knew him when he was a little kid. We used to play against each other in basketball before we went to school together. He's a fun spirited guy, he always has a lot of energy. I like him as a runner. He's tough but he can also be elusive. He lowers his shoulder when he needs to.

Falcons' fourth-down follies to much to overcome

Seattle was able to grow its lead so quickly on Sunday thanks to a number of failed conversions on fourth down by the Falcons. Atlanta ended the day 0-for-4 on fourth down with the offense failing to convert three of those and safety Sharrod Neasman fumbling the ball after successfully running a fake punt in the third quarter. Those miscues blew open what had been a tight game in the first half, tilting things in the favor of Seattle. As ESPN's Vaughn McClure wrote after the game, they were too much to overcome for Atlanta.

"There were three fourth-down plays that proved to be particularly costly to the Falcons on a day where they needed those type of plays to swing in their favor," McClure writes. "The one that probably swung the momentum most came in the third quarter when the defense surrendered a 38-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to DK Metcalf on fourth-and-5. The Falcons trailed just 14-12 at the time, but the score against cornerback Isaiah Oliver was part of a run of 17 straight points for Seattle that all but put the game out of reach."

More headlines for Falcons fans

Advertising