Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens preview: Is the season salvageable?


If last week was a “must-win” spot for the Atlanta Falcons, then this week’s contest against the Baltimore Ravens certainly qualifies under the same provision. At 2-4 and without a true home game on the schedule for more than a month, the Falcons are floundering in a big way, and their opponent is 4-2, playing at home, and riding high after a 31-point blowout against Tampa Bay. With that on the table, let’s get to the preview.

Opponent: Baltimore Ravens

Time/TV: 1:00 pm ET, FOX

Falcons Offense vs. Ravens Defense

For all the complaining about this team (largely warranted), the offense has been extremely good on the whole this season. The Falcons are second in the NFL in total offense (410 yards per game) and third in passing offense (307 yards per game), and Matt Ryan has played remarkably well when given time. Of course, the offensive line has slipped significantly over the past couple of weeks, cratering during the loss to Chicago in which they allowed four sacks and countless hurries.

Fortunately, the Baltimore pass rush has been sub-standard this season, generating only 10 sacks in six games, and that provides some form of optimism. Still, it will be crucial for Atlanta’s pass-catchers to vastly improve on their performance last week (the group dropped seven passes), and a re-emergence from Roddy White would not be the worst thing in the world.

Antone Smith continues to be a revelation, and his explosive plays have helped to keep the running game afloat. The rest of the quartet of running backs have been underwhelming, but as long as the Falcons have the threat of a competent ground attack, that will help the offensive line. This is a manageable match-up for the offense, but protecting Matt Ryan remains at the top of the priority list.

Falcons Defense vs. Ravens Offense

This defense stinks right now.

Obviously, that isn’t breaking news to anyone who has watched more than a few moments of Atlanta Falcons football this season, but as of this moment, the Birds are 29th in the NFL in passing defense (277.7 yards per game) and 28th in the NFL in rushing defense (141.3 yards per game). For those scoring at home, those numbers put together place the Falcons at 31st in the league in total defense, with a very narrow margin ahead of the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Yep, “stinks” may not be strong enough.

To make matters worse, the Ravens were actually spectacular offensively in their last outing, albeit against those same Bucs. Joe Flacco is a player that I’ve always held in the “overrated” category, but with Steve Smith and Torrey Smith on the outside, Baltimore is capable of beating you through the air, and the running game has been competent, with top-10 production using a trio of running backs.

Lastly, pass rush is the name of the game, and if the Falcons can’t generate pressure on Flacco, it will be a long, long day.


It’s time to put up or shut up for this team. Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff have both been included in the job security rumor mill this week, and while no one “expects” Atlanta to win this game, falling to 2-5 would be disastrous given the trip to London to face a more than capable Detroit Lions team. The stakes are quite high here.

Stay tuned for post-game coverage, and a live game thread that will post on Sunday morning. In addition, be sure to follow ATL All Day for the latest on the Atlanta Falcons.