The Atlanta Falcons will travel to take on the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday. The Falcons will be looking to build on their momentum and for some road success after their abominable performance in Minnesota in week 1.
The Falcons and Colts are two very evenly matched teams, and the numbers prove that, too. After a week 1 debacle, the Falcons weren’t sure what to think about their season. With the win over the Eagles last Sunday, the Falcons have some momentum they can finally build on. The Colts were week 1 losers, too. An overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers after some kicking woes is what doomed the Colts in week 1. Like the Falcons, the Colts bounced back in week 2 with a win over the Tennessee Titans. Both teams will now be looking to keep the momentum they’ve built from week 2.
It’s been a lot of the same from last season for the Falcons the first two weeks of this season. A robust passing game, with a few more Matt Ryan interceptions, and a lackluster running game, despite having Devonta Freeman back in the lineup after missing pretty much all of last season. After two weeks, the Falcons are averaging 18 points a game, which is in the bottom half of the league. They are ranked in the bottom half of the league when it comes to total yards a game, 356, yards per play, 5.6. A lot of those numbers can be blamed on the lack of balance within the Falcons offense.
The Atlanta Falcons running game has been nonexistent in these first two weeks. Atlanta’s rushing offense ranks in the bottom-5 of the league, averaging 65 yards a game on the ground. The Falcons have yet to score a touchdown on the ground this season, a troubling stat going into week 3.
The lack of a running game has been the emphasis on Matt Ryan to produce more. In two games, Ryan has thrown 5 TD’s, which is top-five in the NFL but has thrown 5 interceptions after throwing 7 all of last season. With no running game, the Falcons offense becomes very one dimensional and predictable. If the Falcons want a chance to compete in Indy, the running game will have to be established early on Sunday.
With the shocking retirement of Andrew Luck before the season, it was assumed the Colts would take a big step back. Jacoby Brissett has stepped in to fill the starter’s shoes in Indy. While the passing game has taken a hit, the Colts are at the very bottom of the NFL when it comes to passing yards a game with 147 a game, the running game continues to thrive behind a great offensive line.
The Colts have made up for what they’re not getting through the air by pounding the running game hard. After two games, the Colts are the second-best rushing team, averaging 185 yards on the ground. Any team with a good running game will be hard to stop when they are moving the ball and controlling the clock. The Falcons will have to be weary on Sunday to not let the Colts bully them with a dominant game on the ground. On a good note for the Falcons is Marlon Mack, the Colts starting running back, is questionable with a calf injury.
The Atlanta Falcons have performed very well in these first two games of the young season. I will be the first to admit how skeptical I was when Dan Quinn announced he would be taking over the defense this season, but he’s done a great job so far. The week 1 loss against the Vikings has skewed their points allowed per game, 24 which is in the bottom half of the league, but last week’s game against the Eagles proved this Falcons defense is up for the challenge after a disappointing year last season.
The Falcons rank top-five in some important categories when it comes to defense. Total yards a game, yards per play, passing TDs, and passing yards per game. When it comes to rushing yards per game, the Falcons rank in the top-ten, which will come in handy against a dangerous running team in the Colts.
It hasn’t all been great for the Falcons defense, however. The Falcons still struggle to get sacks, only four this season. The third-down efficiency has not been great for the Falcons which can be incredibly frustrating for the team. Also, the Falcons have given up 4 rushing touchdowns, which ranks near the bottom of the league. Overall the Falcons defense has been incredible with a few areas that need improvement still.
It’s been a struggle for the Colts on defense this season when looking strictly at the numbers. Other than sacks, 8 so far this season for Indy, and passing yards per game, they rank 10th, the Colts don’t rank in the top-ten in any defensive category. The Colts are in the middle of the pack when it comes total yards a game, but are giving up yards on the ground and through the air. The Falcons can take advantage of the soft Colts defense if the offense can establish some semblance of a good offense early on in Sunday’s game.
When it comes to the numbers, the Falcons seem like the team with the advantage, though the margin is very slim with these two teams. The Colts will be at home, after opening the season with two road games, so that has to count for something. The Colts have a strong running game, but the Falcons have been solid in stopping the run so that’s a wash. The Falcons have an advantage when it comes to their offense, however. If the Falcons can get anything done on the ground on Sunday and Matt Ryan can protect the ball, I think the Falcons can control this game. The Colts have plenty of weapons and good players to keep the Falcons on their toes, but I like the Falcons in this matchup on Sunday.
Week 3 NFL Picks
2019 record: 3-2
Kansas City(-6) over Baltimore
Until the Chiefs show their offense being stopped, I’m not picking against them. I like what the Ravens have done so far this season, but the Arizona Cardinals gave them a scare last week. This game is in Kansas City. Patrick Mahomes is playing. Taking the Chiefs.
New England(-23.5) over NY Jets
I made the mistake last week of picking the Dolphins and their points. Not again. The Jets are down to their third-string QB, Luke Falk after Trevor Semian went down. I like the Pats to roll big time in this game.
Pittsburgh(+7) over San Francisco
No Bell, Brown, and now, no Big Ben. The Mason Rudolph era is upon us now and he gets his first start this week. I picked against the 49ers last week and they burned me, but now I’m going back to the well. Everyone is counting out the Steelers and recrowning Jimmy G after lighting up the pathetic Bengals last week. I’m not buying either. Take the Steelers and the points.
Atlanta(+1) over Indianapolis
I took the Falcons last week, and not just because I’m a fan. I believe in this team. Just read all above this.
Green Bay(-7.5) over Denver
The Packers are good, better than I think most people are giving them credit for. The Broncos are letting Joe Flacco start at QB still. The Pack are at home. Take the Packers.