Atlanta Falcons

Falcons’ schedule sets up favorably over final stretch

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 03: Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) talks to Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack (51) on the sidelines during the NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 03, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

In two of three losses this season, the Atlanta Falcons have been held under 75 yards rushing. In their other loss, a 33-30 contest against San Diego in overtime, Matt Ryan had one touchdown and one interception. That marked the first time all season that Ryan hadn’t thrown more touchdowns than interceptions.

The Falcons know what they need to do to win, that is clear. At 6-3 and atop the NFC South, Atlanta may have given up the most points of any division member at 259, but it has scored 305, the top mark in the league. None of the four other teams ranked ahead of Atlanta in the league standings (Dallas, New England, Oakland and Kansas City) have scored more points than the Falcons.

Ryan and company are the only offense that has topped the 300-point mark this season. Defensively, the Falcons have surrendered the third-most points behind only San Francisco and Cleveland, two teams that are a combined 1-16 record wise.

Will they be able to score enough points to hang onto their first-place standing in the NFC South?

That’s an interesting question and here’s why I say the Falcons can win a good portion of games on tap simply with their dynamic offense.


Week 10: at Philadelphia (4-4)

Week 12: vs. Arizona (3-4-1)

Week 13: vs. Kansas City (6-2)

Week 14: at Los Angeles (3-5)

Week 15: vs. San Francisco (1-7)

Week 16: at Carolina (3-5)

Week 17: vs. New Orleans (4-4)

Anything can happen when you play at Philadelphia, but outside of the Week 12 home clash with the Chiefs, there is no particular game on this schedule that should scare Atlanta. Perhaps the finale against New Orleans, but again, that comes at home.

The Falcons’ final stretch really sets up in their favor and with Ryan playing the way he is, this offense is hard to slow down. He has 2,980 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, four interceptions and a QB rating of 119.

Ryan is playing at a high level and we’ve seen stretches of this before from him, but in his ninth season, it is hard to find many weaknesses in his game. At 31 years old, he is in his second year under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, he has Julio Jones in his prime, Momahed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, Austin Hooper and Jacob Tamme all stretching field.

And don’t forget about his backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

Freeman has been really hot as of late and when he gets going, this offense is that much better since defenses can’t figure out what is going on. Coleman (hamstring) has been out the last couple of weeks and the Falcons could use his playmaking ability, but Terron Ward has done a nice job in his place.

Atlanta isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

With the recipe working of Ryan tossing two or more touchdowns a game with no interceptions and Freeman and the backfield rushing for 100 plus yards, the Falcons will continue to win games.

The schedule isn’t grueling and with a bye week coming after Sunday’s matchup in Philadelphia, this team could be much more healthy and even more dangerous as we head into the most important part of the season.

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