In a season in which the Atlanta Falcons are trying to erase questions about all the things they supposedly can’t do, they’ll get an opportunity to take on one of their knocks in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Critics have said the Falcons have been a “dome team’’ since the arrival of coach Mike Smith and Matt Ryan in 2008. The Falcons already have won three outdoor games this season -- at Kansas City, San Diego and Washington. The weather in Kansas City and San Diego was close to ideal for those games. In Washington, the Falcons had to deal with light rain, a slightly wet field and temperatures that were cooler than normal.
But the weather challenges the Falcons could face in Philadelphia on Sunday could be far bigger than what they dealt with in Washington. With Hurricane Sandy making its way up the East Coast, Philadelphia already is feeling some impact from the storm and conditions are expected to get worse as the day goes on.
Wind could force the Falcons to cut back on passing. If rain gets heavy, running back Michael Turner could get more work than he has early this season.
There’s little question the weather is going to impact this game in some ways. But I don’t know that the Falcons are necessarily at a disadvantage. The Eagles will face the same conditions. Besides, I think a lot of people tend to forget that Ryan has dealt with plenty of difficult weather before he ever got to Atlanta. He grew up in suburban Philadelphia and played at Boston College.
Also, I just spoke to a Falcons official, who said the team has plans to accelerate its departure from Philadelphia after the game. The team wants to get to the airport and out of Philadelphia as quickly as possible because there is fear the Falcons could end up getting stranded if they wait too long.