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Monday, October 28, 2013

Looking Ahead - Atlanta

Carolina gets a long week to prep for Atlanta (and lucked into a short
week against Tampa instead of, say, San Francisco or New England). So,
that left some room to look ahead at what common opponent Arizona was
able to do to our next opponent.

The result? A 27-13 pasting of the Falcons. Arizona was efficient
offensively, but connected on a lot of deeper field shots in the passing
game and making some things happen in the run game, to quickly get this
one out of hand.

For the second week, the Falcons' highlight was Harry Douglas,
following a 7 catch/149 yard/1 TD performance, Douglas got 12 receptions
and 121 more yards. This time not scoring and obviously lowering his
ypc, Douglas had to take what the defense would give.

On the backside, Matt Ryan threw for 300 yards and a score - while
throwing four picks and going 34/61. From the looks if it, those 300
yards were hard earned early going, and later on were simply a function
of taking some of the underneath while the Cards took away the deep
stuff. Ryan also got sacked four times.

Ryan, somewhat embarassingly, also was their leading rusher with a
single attempt for 13 yards. Jacquizz Rodgers pulling in 8 yards bested
Steven Jackson's 11 rushes for 6 yards (4 of which were on a single
rush) - not an ideal thing for Atlanta against a good run D heading into
a game against Carolina's elite-level run defense.

Arizona established the run early, and stayed with it - including 201
on the ground, 80 of which was on an Andre Ellington TD. Ellington had
15/154 and the one score.

It's almost a shame the game got over so quickly - with a 21-6 halftime
score - because AZ was in four minute offense so often and worked with a
short field just as often. Otherwise, there might be more tape on how
to exploit the Falcons' sudden deficiencies.

This Falcons team is built on Ryan's supporting cast, with a massive
contract to outlets Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, and the massive trade
to get Julio Jones; between that and the expectation that Jackson would
be healthy and upgrade the run game has left Ryan doing too much.

So, are the Falcons on the ropes? It's hard to say. There's never
exactly an easy friendship between these two teams, and Atlanta losing
again has Gonzalez wondering if the season's over. When the hopeless
hole of a season is written off, it's hard to say if a team like this
will embrace the spoiler role or roll over and die.

More complete pregame will come closer to gameday, stay tuned.
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