I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is we lost another player to injury for the season. Guard, Andy Levitre, was placed on IR with a season ending triceps injury. It appears that Wes Schweitzer is in line for another crack at the starting job as he was who filled in when Levitre left the contest Sunday. The good news is that the Falcons got their first victory of the season over the Carolina Panthers this past week. Atlanta spread the ball around a lot in this game and Matt Ryan got in a rhythm with the offense. Once this offense gets going it hard to stop them. In Week 3 Atlanta continues its divisional play as the New Orleans Saints come to town. Let’s take a look at what you need to know ahead of the game.
4-4 in the Red Zone
In week one the Falcons were 1 of 5 in the red zone, while in week two they went a perfect 4-for-4. The Falcons had no problem moving the ball down the field against the Eagles, but their lack of execution when they got into scoring position was an issue. In their battle against the Panthers, the Falcons scored four touchdowns in the red zone. Matt Ryan did his best Michael Vick impression, scoring two rushing touchdowns himself, while also passing for two. Atlanta should have no problem moving the ball down the field against the Saints. New Orleans is coming off a lucky win against the Browns, and a week one loss against Tampa Bay. Will Atlanta’s red zone efficiency be similar to Week 1 or Week 2 in this contest?
Over Dan Quinn’s tenure he has put together one of the league’s top offensive lines when they are fully healthy. Atlanta has had incredible injury luck, until this season. During the 2016 campaign Atlanta’s opening season starters along the offensive line missed 0 games in 2016, and only 5 in 2017. Thankfully Wes Schweitzer started all 16 games at right guard last season so the line shouldn’t have much of a chemistry issue plugging him in. Per PFF, Jake Matthews, Alex Mack, Brandon Fusco, and Ryan Schraeder allowed 18 pressures in week one, while only allowing three total in Week 2. In PFF rankings Atlanta finished the 2017 season with the 2nd ranked offensive line and started 2018 with the 3rd ranked unit. If Atlanta’s offensive line can play the way they did against the Panthers last week, look for the offense to continue rolling.
Atlanta holds the all-time record in head-to-head matchups, besting the Saints 52 of the 98 times they have met. Since Matt Ryan was drafted in 2008 his record against Brees and co. is 8-11. While his all-time record against the Saints isn’t favorable, Ryan has lead the Falcons to a 5-3 record against them since the 2014 season. When at home since 2014, Ryan averages 333 passing touchdowns and 2.5 touchdowns. On the road 288 passing yards and 1.5 touchdowns. Ryan gets to face the division rival Saints at home this weekend.
Matt Ryan vs Saints since 2014
2014: Home (Win) 448 passing yards 3 td / (Win) Away 332 passing yards 1 td
2015: Away (Loss) 295 passing yards 2 td /(Loss) Home 334 passing 2 td – 1 int
2016: Away (Win) 240 passing yards 2 td/(Win) Home 331 passing yards 4 td
2017: Home (Win) 221 passing yards 1 td – 1 int/ (Loss) Away 288 passing yards 1 td – 1 int
The Falcons lacked execution and discipline in their Week 1 contest, but Week 2 was a different story. Atlanta committed thirteen less penalties in their Week 2 matchup, than they did in Week 1. The Falcons showed that even when they are without key players they are still a dominant force if they are executing and playing disciplined football. I expect the matchup with the Saints to be a shootout with Atlanta coming out on top sending the Saints home with a 1-2 record.