Fireworks Expected When Falcons & Redskins Tangle
By: Michael Robinson
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Two of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins, meet up in the nation’s capital on Sunday afternoon.
The Falcons are trying to improve to 5-0 for the first time in team history.
The Don Best Pro Odds have Atlanta remaining as 3-point road favorites since the opening. The total is 50, the third-highest among games this week and FOX will broadcast from FedEx Field beginning at 1:00 p.m. (ET).
The Redskins (2-2 straight up and against the spread) have had an exciting start to the Robert Griffin III era at quarterback. The scoring offense ranks fourth (30.8 PPG) and all four games have gone down to the end with the ‘over’ 4-0.
Griffin (103.2 rating, ranked fourth) is not blessed with elite receiving weapons, but does a great job spreading the ball around, plus extending plays with his legs. He can also tuck it and run (234 yards), which keeps opposing defenses on its toes.
Running back Alfred Morris has come out of nowhere as a sixth-round pick from Florida Atlantic. He has 376 yards in four games and those numbers along with Griffin help lead the NFL’s second-ranked rushing attack (171 YPG).
Washington fans were disappointed in the only home game so far, a 38-31 loss versus Cincinnati as 3-point favorites. The 'Skins also lost their final six at home last year (2-4 ATS), so they’ve waited a long time to see a ‘W’ in person.
The Falcons (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS) have gotten off to a great start as one of three undefeated teams left. They are also already three games ahead in the NFC South with the New Orleans Saints' bountygate scandal clearly working in their favor.
Coach Mike Smith saw his team lay a major egg the last two years in the playoffs. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter was hired to bring more emphasis to the vertical passing game and Atlanta is third in scoring (31 PPG) despite being 15th in total yards (365.3 YPG).
The Falcons have really benefitted from turnovers (+10 margin), with the 12 takeaways the second-most in the league and the two giveaways tied for the least. They were even in the turnover battle (1-1) last week versus Carolina and failed to cover as 7-point home favorites (30-28 final).
It remains to be seen if Atlanta can win (and cover) when it loses the turnover battle, which is bound to happen at some point.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has the NFL’s best passer rating (112.6). He’s looking very comfortable with the no-huddle and receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones will have mismatches outside versus the Washington corners. Jones was dealing with a hand issue last game, but is considered fine now.
Atlanta has three defensive starters listed as questionable with lineman Jonathan Babineaux (groin), linebacker Stephen Nicholas (thigh) and safety William Moore (hip). The unit ranks 16th overall in total yards (353.3 YPG), but 29th against the run (146.3 YPG).
Look for Washington coach Mike Shanahan to attack via the run game early.
The Redskins already lost two key defensive players in Adam Carriker (knee) and Brian Orakpo (pectoral). The defense ranks 29th overall (415.3 YPG) with the pass ‘D’ the biggest culprit (326.3 YPG, ranked 31st). That doesn’t bode well against Ryan and company.
These teams haven’t met since 2009 with the Falcons winning 31-17 as 9-point home favorites. They also won and covered the last meeting in Washington 24-14 in 2006.