If the season ended today the Atlanta Falcons would have the fourth overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Turnovers, drops, lack of execution, things that simply shouldn’t be happening this late in the season. Even with all of the injuries the team has, sitting at a 4-9 record just doesn’t make sense. This team came into the season with championship hopes, but injuries showed that they may have a lot more holes than everyone may have thought. Let’s hope this season is just an outlier and the team can get back on track these last couple of weeks to give fans some hope for next season. The Cardinals come to town this week for Atlanta’s last home game of the season. Let’s take a look at what you need to know heading into the game.
PFF ranked the top twenty-five offensive lineman so far this season. Jake Matthews came in at fourteen, while Alex Mack made the list at eighteen. Jake Matthews is on pace to allow fifteen less pressures than he did last season. While Mack is still a top five center in the league, he hasn’t looked himself this year. Which could be in part of how bad the guard play has been around him. Besides Mack and Matthews, Atlanta has had seven other players cycle through the offensive line this season. The offensive line will have their hands full this week with Chandler Jones. Jones currently leads all players in quarterback hits through week fourteen with seventeen. He also has 12 sacks on the season, tied for 6th best.
Matt Ryan surpassed Peyton Manning for most passing yards in a quarterbacks first eleven seasons. What Ryan is doing with the league’s worst rushing attack is a feat of its own. On top of no run game, there has been hardly any consistency along the line with all of the injuries. Only Houston has allowed more hits on the quarterback so far this season. Matt Ryan has been hit 102 times this year. Despite Ryan being hit on a regular basis he is top ten in completion percentage, yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns, and quarterback rating. Ryan currently has only thrown six interceptions, twenty-six quarterbacks have thrown more than him this season. Despite the Cardinals record, they actually boast one of the league’s best secondaries. They are allowing just 210 passing yards per game this year, 4th best. Ryan is averaging 313 passing yards per game, 3rd best in the league.
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While the Cardinals are scoring a league worst 13 points per game, they are just a couple of weeks removed from doing what Atlanta couldn’t this past week. Going into Lambeau and beating the Packers. Like Atlanta, the Cardinals offensive line has struggled this season. They have also been plagued by the injury bug. They have allowed Josh Rosen to get hit eighty-five times this year, which ranks 9thworst in the league. Even though Atlanta hasn’t been great at getting to the quarterback, I expect them to do well this week.
The Falcons have done a poor job of stopping the opposing team’s running back this year. David Johnson has only surpassed 100 rushing yards one time on the season. Will the Falcons defense finally step up and stop the run against a struggling Cardinals offensive line?
In Dan Quinn’s press conference on Wednesday he said they are continuing to hammer home the importance of focus from the team this week. He said the fight was there against Green Bay, but the focus, wasn’t. Atlanta had Aaron Rodgers dead in the water on multiple occasions, and had two dropped interceptions. Atlanta did bring Rodgers down four times, but could have notched a couple of more sacks. Rosen has thrown an interception in seven of his last eight games. Atlanta has struggled to win the turnover battle this year. Can they get pressure on the rookie and make him turn the ball over this week?