The bye week has finally come and gone, and the Atlanta Falcons are preparing to take on the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The Falcons are fresh off a bye and look to be getting healthy after a rash of early season injuries. The Dolphins look to be in a tailspin that hasn’t been helped by the recent drama in the coaching staff. Overall, things don’t appear to be going too well in Miami.
Atlanta would really like to get an impressive, confidence-building win heading into next week’s clash against the Patriots. Let’s take a closer look at how the Falcons and Dolphins stack up statistically.
Total yards/game: Falcons 388.2 (4th), Dolphins 231.2 (32nd)
Passing yards/game: Falcons 262.5 (7th), Dolphins 156.5 (32nd)
Passing TDs: Falcons 5 (T-26th), Dolphins 3 (31st)
Rushing yards/game: Falcons 125.8 (8th), Dolphins 74.8 (31st)
Rushing TDs: Falcons 5 (T-5th), Dolphins 0 (32nd)
Third Down Efficiency: Falcons 43% (8th), Dolphins 25% (32nd)
Turnover Margin: Falcons -4 (T-28th), Dolphins -2 (T-21st)
The Falcons, despite their up-and-down start to the season, are still among the best offenses in the NFL in 2017. They’re currently sitting at 8th in points and 4th in total yards. Atlanta has been pretty balanced thus far, and are almost equally effective in terms of rushing and passing (8th and 7th in yards, respectively). The Falcons have also been very good on third down, converting 43% of their opportunities (good for 8th). They’ve struggled, however, in turnover margin—they are -4 after four weeks, making them T-28th.
Miami, meanwhile, is clearly the worst offense in the NFL after five weeks. They are dead last in five separate statistical categories, including points (10.2), total yards (231.2), passing yards (156.5), rushing TDs (0), and third down efficiency (25%). They’re also 31st in passing TDs (3) and rushing yards (74.8). The only part of their game they’re better at is turnover margin, where their defense has helped them to maintain only a -2 deficit, good for T-21st in the NFL. Overall, this offense is abysmal, and has struggled to do much of anything thus far.
Points/game: Falcons 22.2 (T-18th), Dolphins 16.8 (4th)
Total yards/game: Falcons 318.2 (10th), Dolphins 309.5 (8th)
Passing yards/game: Falcons 225.2 (17th), Dolphins 234.0 (22nd)
Passing TDs: Falcons 5 (T-5th), Dolphins 5 (T-5th)
Rushing yards/game: Falcons 93.0 (11th), Dolphins 75.5 (4th)
Rushing TDs: Falcons 2 (T-3rd), Dolphins 2 (T-3rd)
Third Down Efficiency: Falcons 37% (8th), Dolphins 30% (3rd)
Sacks: Falcons 12 (T-12th), Dolphins 10 (T-24th)
While the Falcons’ defense is still not among the best units in the league, they’re no longer a liability. They’ve improved to T-18th in points and 10th in total yards—a big change from what we saw in 2016. Atlanta is 17th in passing yards and surprisingly T-5th in passing TDs, allowing only 5 through four games. The Falcons have also been respectable against the run, as they’re 11th in yardage and T-3rd in rushing TDs. Despite some mishaps here and there, the Falcons are 8th in third down efficiency. They’ve also been effective at getting after the QB, with 12 sacks through four games, good for T-12th in the league.
If the Dolphins offense is so catastrophically bad, how they have managed to win any games? The answer is their defense, which has been pretty darn good in 2017. They’re 4th in points and 8th in total yards. The Dolphins have been much better against the run (4th in yards and T-3rd in TDs) than the pass (22nd in yards and T-5th in TDs). Miami has also been excellent on third down, allowing only 30% of attempts to be converted (good for 3rd). They’ve struggled a bit rushing the passer, with 10 sacks thus far (T-24th). This is a formidable unit that is being wasted behind a horrible offense.
With a struggling Dolphins team coming to Atlanta and the Falcons fresh off a bye, this has all the makings of a long day for Miami. The Falcons’ offense may not dominate a very solid Dolphins’ defense, but it doesn’t seem particularly likely that the Dolphins’ offense will be able to take advantage of the good play of their defense. Atlanta may be able to find some success against the Dolphins’ weakness (their pass defense) with the return of a healthy Julio Jones and Ryan Schraeder.
The Falcons have been incredibly unlucky with turnovers through the first four weeks, and I think that luck may begin to turn around on Sunday. Cutler has been struggling mightily, and the team appears to have almost given up on him. With all the drama surrounding the team this week, don’t be surprised to see the Dolphins’ offense come out flat, or worse.
With the Dolphins’ offense struggling, the Falcons’ defense may have an opportunity to put together an impressive game. We’ve seen the unit play well at times, but not quite an entire game. Against a Miami offense that is clearly the worst in the league (and that may be down starting WR DeVante Parker), this could be their chance to put on a show.
Overall Advantage: Falcons
What are your thoughts on this match-up? Any concerns about the Dolphins on Sunday? What do you expect to see from the Falcons on both sides of the ball?