Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- Washington’s defense has been shredded in recent weeks and is most vulnerable via the pass, but Atlanta’s offense is built around the run.
- Only one Falcons game this season has combined for more than 40 points while the Commanders have been a part of three games through five weeks that featured 60 or more points.
- Sam Howell leads the league in sacks taken through five weeks, but the Falcons defense ranks last in the league in sacks.
- Atlanta ranks top 10 in the NFL in man coverage rate and the Washington receivers have struggled so far this season.
- The Falcons have not had much success through the air this season, but Washington is by far the worst pass defense they have seen to date.
How washington Will Try To Win ::
The Commanders have thrown the ball at the second highest rate in the NFL through five weeks. A big part of that statistic has been game script, as they have fallen behind several times this season including last week’s embarrassing loss to the Bears. However, they also have shown a willingness to let Sam Howell throw the ball around the yard and are not afraid to play to a matchup’s path of least resistance. This week, they face a Falcons team that ranks seventh in the NFL in run defense DVOA and 29th in pass defense DVOA. The Commanders have scored at least 20 points in four of five games this season, with the lone exception being their drubbing at the hands of the Bills in sub-optimal weather conditions. The Falcons defense is solid, but not on the same level as Buffalo.
Head coach Ron Rivera would love to have a team built on their defense, but so far this year their defense has been extremely disappointing. At this point, the Commanders have to be aware that they are going to need to score 24 or more points to win most weeks. The Cardinals in Week 1 are the only team that Washington has held in check and this Falcons team is more efficient than given credit for. I would expect the Commanders to open this game with a balanced approach but to be somewhat aggressive to try to get on top and/or stay within striking distance early. Sam Howell has taken an egregious amount of sacks this season and the Falcons defense ranks fifth in the NFL in both sacks and QB pressure rate. There will almost certainly be a priority for Washington to get the ball out of Howell’s hands quickly with their running backs, tight ends, and Curtis Samuel likely to be targeted often, rather than challenging the Falcons very talented perimeter cornerbacks. AJ Terrell is a former first round pick who often takes on shadow coverage of the opponent’s top wide receiver. Opposite him is Dee Alford, who ranks third out of 68 qualifying cornerbacks in PFF coverage grade. The Commanders have had a broad target distribution and that should continue this week with the perimeter receivers being in a tough matchup and Howell needing to get rid of the ball quickly. The Commanders would likely prefer to let Brian Robinson carry the load but their defense has not shown the ability to let them have that type of game script this year. Robinson tends to dominate the workload on early downs and when the Commanders are ahead, while Antonio Gibson works in a pretty even split with him in negative game scripts.