The Atlanta Falcons (8-5), fresh off a dominating victory over the hapless Los Angeles Rams, now return home for a tilt against the San Francisco 49ers (1-12). The 49ers have not won a game since Week 1, and just lost at home in overtime to the lowly New York Jets.
Atlanta is surging on offense, even without Julio Jones (who remains unlikely to play this week). The defense is coming off it’s best performance of the season, in which they shut out the Rams for three full quarters and created 5(!) turnovers. The unit is far from good, but they’re proving they can handle their business against bad offenses.
The Falcons can’t afford any losses, especially in a game like this. How do these two teams stack up on offense and defense?
Total Points/game: Falcons 32.9 (1st), 49ers 19.3 (26th)
Total Yards/game: Falcons 402.3 (3rd), 49ers 314.0 (29th)
Passing Yards/game: Falcons 295.7 (3rd), 49ers 177.1 (32nd)
Passing TDs: Falcons 30 (3rd), 49ers 16 (T-21st)
Rushing Yards/game: Falcons 106.6 (16th), 49ers 136.9 (4th)
Rushing TDs: Falcons 15 (T-3rd), 49ers 12 (T-10th)
Third Down Efficiency: Falcons 40% (14th), 49ers 35% (27th)
Turnover Margin: Falcons +8 (T-4th), 49ers -3 (22nd)
The Falcons, as usual, dominate the offensive stats. Atlanta remains the highest scoring offense in the league, and last week’s game proved they can do it without their best weapon in Julio Jones. They’re top-3 in yards (3rd), passing yards (3rd), passing TDs (3rd), and rushing TDs (T-3rd). With last week’s defensive showing, they’ve improved to +8 in turnover margin, good for T-4th in the league.
The 49ers are, largely, a below average offense. However, they can run the ball quite well (4th in rushing yards) with RB Carlos Hyde, who had a great game against the Jets. But they’re worst in the league in passing yards, 26th in points, and 29th in total yards. They’re also -3 in turnover margin (22nd) and are only converting a measly 35% of 3rd down opportunities (27th).
Total Points/game: Falcons 26.5 (28th), 49ers 30.2 (32nd)
Total Yards/game: Falcons 376.3 (28th), 49ers 415.3 (32nd)
Passing Yards/game: Falcons 275.2 (32nd), 49ers 244.5 (14th)
Passing TDs: Falcons 26 (T-30th), 49ers 26 (T-30th)
Rushing Yards/game: Falcons 101.1 (14th), 49ers 170.8 (32nd)
Rushing TDs: Falcons 13 (23rd), 49ers 19 (32nd)
Third Down Efficiency: Falcons 43% (27th), 49ers 47% (30th)
Sacks: Falcons 28 (T-15th), 49ers 26 (T-20th)
Atlanta has remained a below-average defense for most of the year, and are still that even after an encouraging performance against the Rams. They’re 28th in points and total yards, and remain worst in the league defending the pass, allowing 275.2 yards/game. The Falcons are better defending the run (14th in yards), and have had a spirited pass rush this season (28 sacks, T-15th).
San Francisco, however, is the worst defense in the league. They’re 32nd in points, yards, rushing yards, and rushing TDs. They’re on a historic pace, allowing a whopping 170.8 rushing yards a game. The 49ers also allow 47% of opponent’s third downs to be converted, good for 30th in the league. The one bright spot on their defense is in passing yards, where they are 14th. But it’s hard to say if that is because the pass defense is actually good, or if it’s because teams have such an easy time running the ball against them.
This is the only time this year where Atlanta has the marked advantage on both offense and defense, at least statistically speaking. That should bode well for a team that is also playing at home, and is fresh off a dominating victory over a (statistically and record-wise) better team.
Atlanta, even without Julio Jones, should have no problem moving the ball on offense against the 49ers defense. The Falcons have struggled with running the ball the last few weeks, but should find plenty of success against San Francisco’s league-worst rush defense. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman could both be in for big games on Sunday.
Against Atlanta’s defense, the 49ers will likely try to run the ball as much as possible. But if San Francisco gets too far behind in the score, they will be forced to abandon the run if they want to keep up. Their passing game is uninspiring at best, and their offensive line has been an active liability thus far. Expect the 49ers to fare better than the Rams, but not by much.
San Francisco has also played measurably worse on the road this season. All that, and a Falcons team that probably still has memories of last year’s game, adds up to what could be another comfortable Atlanta win on Sunday.
What do you think about the game? Is Atlanta poised for another strong victory, or should we be more concerned about this 49ers squad?