Other than limiting turnovers/penalties, what do you think is the biggest key to beating San Francisco?
Jay Adams: Finishing drives. The Falcons' issues with turnovers and penalties are well-documented at this point and those problems have overshadowed just how incredibly efficient the offense has been this year. Devonta Freeman is tops in nearly every rushing category, Julio Jones is tops in nearly every receiving category, Matt Ryan is top three in nearly every passing category — the Falcons can move the ball, but finishing with six points instead of three when that group is on the field is a major focus and key to beating the Niners.
Andrew Hirsh: I think it's executing in the red zone. Atlanta has done a good job moving the football between the 20s; now, it's about punching it in at a high rate instead of settling for lots of field goal attempts. Given the way the defense is playing, an improvement in this area should be enough to bring the Falcons to victory.
Kelsey Conway: Creating takeaways defensively. As Dan Quinn alluded to on Monday, the Falcons' defense is best when they are " ball hawking" and creating havoc on the defensive side of the ball. Quinn's team is 0-2 when they do not create a takeaway. This will be key against a 49ers' offense with a lot of uncertainty due to injuries and a quarterback change.
Who's someone you think can be an X-factor for Atlanta this week?
JA:Linebacker O'Brien Schofield may be turning some heads lately for his high-energy play and ability to affect the quarterback. This was one guy I was extremely excited about when we added him and he's showing exactly why. I think he's going to quickly go from X-factor to household name in Atlanta, but for now he's my choice to continue being an under-the-radar force.AH: I'll go with Jalen Collins. He got a lot of snaps last Sunday and did a great job. With a few injuries at CB, it's starting to look like he'll be counted on this Sunday, too. Collins has come a long way since preseason, and if he can build on recent success, it'll be extremely difficult for Blaine Gabbert to make plays.
KC: Devonta Freeman. Hands down. Devonta Freeman is one of, if not, the most important part of this offense right now. When Freeman gets going, he sets the tone for the game. The Falcons feed off his play and energy, and I think he has a big day against a struggling run defense in San Francisco.
What's one big prediction you have for this game?
JA:I think the Falcons get their penalty and turnover issues solved. I'd be surprised if the Falcons weren't on the positive side of the turnover battle this week and I don't think there will be nearly as many flags as we've seen in recent games. They've been focused on fixing these things and I think it comes together Sunday.AH: I think the Falcons will play a much more disciplined game and, ultimately, win the turnover battle. Atlanta has spent a lot of time trying to cut down self-inflicted wounds, and now is as good of a time as ever to see that work pay off.KC:I think everything is going to click on Sunday and the Falcons will give the 49ers one tough, disciplined game. The Falcons all week have kept the focus on themselves and correcting their mistakes, and with that I think we will see a determined team come out on Sunday.
Over/under: Three catches for Justin Hardy. JA:Over. I don't expect Leonard Hankerson to play as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury, and if he does play, I could see him being limited. That said, Austin Hooper could cut into Hardy's take, but I could see the rookie getting a few more looks this week.
AH:I'll go with over. Matt Ryan showed last week he isn't afraid to target Hardy, and I think the young WR will have a nice day against the 49ers.
KC: I'll go with three. Justin Hardy did well in his debut, and I think they continue to ease the rookie in the offense.