Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which opened in 2017, just hosted its very first season-opening game for the Falcons. Unfortunately, no fans were in attendance for this milestone moment, but the stadium has quickly gained the attention of those around the league.
With new stadiums like SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles or Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas opening up, ESPN writers ranked all venues around the league on multiple criteria. Mercedes-Benz Stadium fared relatively well in the review, earning the No. 12 spot out of the 28 stadiums ranked by the writers.
"The futuristic roof, transparent walls and crazy 100-foot, ring-shaped Halo video board all receive high marks," ESPN writes. "Its location in downtown Atlanta within walking distance of the College Football Hall of Fame and CNN, among other attractions, is tough to beat. But let's be honest, $1.50 for a hot dog (in 2019)? At an NFL game? Sign us up."
Week 2 NFL power rankings
The weekly power rankings weren't too kind to the Falcons after their 38-25 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. NFL.com's Dan Hanzus dropped Atlanta six spots after their showing in the season opener. Although they entered the season ranked No. 18 in Hanzus's initial rankings, the Falcons now sit at No. 24 heading into Week 2.
"Give the Falcons this: They put together a beautiful box score on Sunday," Hanzus writes. "Matt Ryan threw for 450 yards and two scores. Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Justin Gage each had nine catches and all went over 100 yards for the day. Todd Gurley began his Falcons career with an even 4.0 yards per rush and TD. But the defense had zero answers for the Seahawks' Russell Wilson-led passing attack, and too much of Atlanta's offensive fireworks occurred after the game was already decided. Dan Quinn's team plays from behind too often -- Week 1 felt too much like what we saw last season."
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.
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