For the most part, it was a relaxing week for Atlanta Falcons fans during the bye. Atlanta was quiet during the trade deadline. They did however go out and sign offensive lineman, Zane Beadles, and waived DT Michael Bennett. Beadles most recently played for the San Francisco 49ers. He made the pro bowl in 2012, during his tenure with the Broncos. Atlanta didn’t get any help during the bye as the Panthers and Saints both won. The Panthers sit at a 5-2 record, while the Saints are 6-1. Atlanta faces a tough, 5-2 Redskins team this week. Let’s jump in to what you need to know.

Matt Ryan

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Matt Ryan. Those are the only quarterbacks with 2,000+ passing yards, 15+ passing touchdowns, and 2 or fewer interceptions through 7 games of a season. Matt Ryan continues to put on a clinic this year. Ryan is also atop the leaderboard for most passing yards through 165 games in NFL history, at 44,131 yards. This is 52 more yards than Drew Brees had through as many games, he is 2ndon the list.

Per Bill Barnwell on twitter, In Ryan’s last five games: 143-192 (74.5%), 1812 yards (9.4 y/a), 13 TD, 0 INT, 126.0 passer rating. During Ryan’s best five game stretch during his MVP season in 2016: 111-154 (72.1%), 1428 yards (9.3 spa), 12 TD, 1 INT, 124.1 passer rating. Ryan is playing at an MVP caliber level right now, but his offensive line needs to keep him upright this week against the Redskins, as they have struggled to do so on the road this season.

Redskins Defense

Redskins can get after you with pressure as Matt Ioannidis, Ryan Kerrigan, and Jonathan Allen have a combined 14 sacks and 22 quarterback hits this season. They also have the league leader in interceptions, safety D.J. Swearinger (four). Ha-Ha Clinton Dix was acquired via trade at the deadline for a 4thround pick.

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They are only allowing 80.1 rushing yards per game, which is 2nd best in the league. Atlanta is averaging a mere 83.3 yard per game, which is 30th in the league. The ‘Skins are allowing 242.3 passing yards per game, which is 13th overall. Ryan is passing for 355 yards per game at home, while 268 yards per game on road.

Washington has allowed 18 points per game at home, while 20.6 on the road this season. Their 19.1 points per game average is good for 5thbest in the league. Atlanta is averaging 32.2 points per game at home, while just 14.5 points per game on the road this season. The Falcons will need to get push up front with their makeshift offensive line to allow Ryan time to get the ball in the hands of his receivers. Atlanta will have a tough go running the ball this week. 

Makeshift Offensive Line

The Falcons have been decimated with injuries this season. Not only on defense, but also along their offensive line. Starting left guard Andy Levitre was lost for the season after Atlanta’s first win of the season, in week 2. Brandon Fusco, Atlanta’s starting right guard, sustained a season ending injury right before the bye, against the New York Giants. Wes Schweitzer has slid into the starting left guard slot, while Ben Garland is currently the starting right guard.

Consistency is key in any format of the NFL. Especially along the offensive line. Luckily for Atlanta, Garland has been with the team since 2015. While Schweitzer was drafted in 2016. It will be good for the line to have familiar faces plugging into the system. The offensive line has allowed Ryan to get sacked 10 times and hit 27 on the road this season. A key factor in this game will be if the offensive line can keep Ryan protected.

Final Thoughts

Once again it feels as though Atlanta is in yet another must win game this week. The Falcons come off the bye and are on the road against Washington, then travel to Cleveland. Week 11 Deion Jones will be eligible to return at home against the Dallas Cowboys. If Atlanta can win these next two games on the road I feel like they will be able to make a run with a healthy Deion Jones back in a few weeks.

Since Ryan was drafted he is a perfect 4-0 against the Redskins. Three of those games were at home, while one was on the road. Let’s hope that trend continues this week.

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