The Falcons finally played two good games in a row this week as they beat the San Francisco 49ers 49-13. Matt Ryan played well but the real keys to the win were the running game and the play of the defense against a pretty poor 49ers offense.
- Jake Matthews, LT: 84.4
- Devonta Freeman, RB: 84.2
- Paul Worrilow, LB: 84.0
- Brooks Reed, DE: 83.7
- Alex Mack, C: 83.4
This is probably the first game in a little while that looks somewhat boring: the top performers are offensive lineman, a defensive lineman, a backup linebacker, a rookie linebacker, and a running back. Matthews and Mack were both forces along the line of scrimmage, giving Freeman room to run, producing the best game the Falcons have had all season, in terms of running the ball. Worrilow came in, after DeVondre Campbell left the game with a concussion and played pretty well for a good portion of the game. The pass rush was not as strong as some expected it to be but there were a couple of instances when Reed and company forced Kaepernick out of the pocket or to get rid of the ball early.
Best, worst grades
The most accurate grade of the week is the 84.2 rating Devonta Freeman earned. Freeman had 20 rushes for 139 yards and three touchdowns—that puts him at an average of seven yards per rush in that game. There were multiple occasions when Freeman just would not be stopped and would not go down. The offensive line did a fantastic job in week 15, but Freeman looked as good as he has all season.
The least accurate grade is tough one, because of the number of solid performers that Atlanta had in this game. I’m going to have to go with Keanu Neal with a 83.3: I didn’t think Neal played a lights out game or anything like that, but I think he played a little better than that number would lead us to believe. Neal had five tackles and assisted on five more, plus a pass break up, so he had a combined 10 tackles and a pass defense. A number of those solo tackles were in space and incredibly difficult, and that proves how much more athletic Neal makes this defense compared to the last few years.
This game went just about how Falcons could hope it could go, though a fumble on the goal line is not ideal, and it is proven through the number of above-average ratings that the Falcons got. As we get closer and closer to the postseason, performances like these are going to become more and more difficult, so it’s nice to see the Falcons play this well when they get the chance.