Atlanta Falcons Preview

GB might need to flip the script and do what Dallas should have done last week. Namely, run the ball, long scoring drives, keep the Falcons offense on the sidelines.

GB v Atlanta is similar to a matchup of a Wimbeldon final featuring two big servers.   You get broken once and you’ve lost the set.  Any possession that doesn’t end in points is a major win for the defense.   Yes, #12 has been hot for GB during the win streak.  But Matt Ryan and the Falcons have put together a historically great offense.  What was most impressive to me in the Falcon win over Seattle was the balance.  Matt Ryan spread the ball around to 2 different TEs, 2 RBs, and 4 WRs.  8 different Falcons had a reception, with Julio Jones grabbing the most (6).  On the season, 9 different Falcon receivers had 27+ targets on the season.  12 different Falcon receivers averaged more than 9.0 yards/reception.

Matt Ryan has put up tremendous numbers all season and has him in line for his first MVP award.

  • 69.9% completion percentage
  • 4,944 Yards Passing
  • 38 TD  7 INT
  • 117.1 QB Rating

Ryan tends to start hot.  His completion percentage jumped to 76.3% and has 9 TD and 0 INT.  On his first ten attempts Ryan’s completion percentage 76.9% and 10-1 TD to INT.  His QB Rating was 123.8.   His numbers declined slightly in the 4th Quarter (58.6% Completion Percentage) and lower yards per completion (8.43).  He also had 7 TD and 3 INT.  His rating of 97.0 was 11 points lower than any other quarter.

The Falcons generally passed out of the shotgun with a single setback.  They also only used offensive motion three times all season.

Pro Football Focus ranks the Falcons the #5 OL in the NFL.

  1. Atlanta Falcons

Key stat: In 2015, the offensive line had a pass blocking efficiency of 80.9; fourth best in the league.

The Falcons have improved greatly over a short period of time. The additions of Levitre and Chester at guard have helped the team in terms of run-blocking. Jake Matthews made huge strides in his second pro season; he allowed 16 combined sacks and hits as a rookie, but dropped that mark to just seven in 2015. Schraeder was the highest-graded right tackle in the league last season. The biggest weakness on the line was center Mike Person, who has been replaced by Alex Mack. If all of these linemen are at their best, the Falcons could move even higher up this list as the season progresses.

Julio Jones is obviously the dominant WR for Atlanta.

  • 83 Receptions
  • 1,409 Yards
  • 17.0 Yards Per Reception
  • 6 TD

Jones had 29 receptions to the left side and 44 catches on 1st down.

In total, the Falcons total offensive rankings:

#1 in Points Per Game (36)

#2 in Passing Yards Per Game (323)

#5 in Rushing Yards Per Game (99)

#3 in 3rd Down Percentage (50)

The Falcons use both RB (Freeman and Coleman) to catch passes and pose matchup problems outside.

DEFENSE

Pro Football Focus ranks the Atlanta Front 7 as #28 in the NFL

28. Atlanta Falcons

Key stat: The Falcons recorded a sack on 4.6 percent of third-down passing plays last year, the second-worst rate in the league.

While the Falcons may be well short of the quality of Dan Quinn’s old defense in Seattle, there is a similar atmosphere of competition in Atlanta, with a wealth of options at every position. The Falcons must improve their pass-rush this season, and while Derrick Shelby (Dolphins) should be a solid acquisition, there haven’t been any major additions made. A proposed move off the ball for Vic Beasley will do little to improve their pass-rush with four defensive backs on the field.

In total, the Falcons total defensive rankings:

#28 in Passing Yards Per Game (266.7)

#17 in Rushing Yards Per Game (104.5)

#27 in Points Per Game (25.4)

#11 in Sacks (37)

#27 in Interceptions (7)

#6 in Forced Fumbles (6)

Vic Beasley is the name to know on the Falcons defense.  The former 1st round pick has 15.5 sacks and 32 total tackles.

 

 

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