When the Falcons return from their bye week rest, they’ll be hosting the Miami Dolphins in the hopefully cozy confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. A win here is important because it is a bounceback opportunity from the Buffalo lose, Miami is one of the few truly “easy” games left on the schedule, and it’ll keep Atlanta out in front in the NFC South. For all those reasons and more, I expect Atlanta to win, hopefully in a bloodbath.
That said, you can’t help but feel some nagging doubt about every game on the schedule. Here’s our weekly big reason to feel confident, and this week’s small reason to feel some doubt.
Feel confident about: Stopping the Dolphins offense
Honestly, I’ve been beating this drum all week because it’s the most sensible drum to beat. The Dolphins have just three offensive touchdowns, are on pace to score fewer points on that side of the ball than any team since the 2-14 2006 Oakland Raiders, and will be missing top wideout DeVante Parker against the Falcons this Sunday. There’s just no reason to look at this team and think they’re miraculously going to pull things together, because their offense is even worse than the Buffalo group that couldn’t even top 20 against this Falcons defense two weeks ago.
If the Falcons play a relatively clean game on defense, avoiding the missed tackles that have plagued them in the past, they can hold this team to manageable point total. If they can start getting the turnovers they’ve talked up all week and get after Jay Cutler, Miami might not even touch 20 points.
Worry about: A sturdy defense
The Dolphins literally have not picked a pass this year, though they’ve forced four fumbles. While they’re not excelling in terms of turnovers, they’re quietly doing solid work on defense, particularly against the run. Their pass defense has not been stellar, but they have the pieces up front to cause problems for Matt Ryan, even with Ryan Schraeder back in the fold.
You always start with Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, who can generate some havoc from that defensive line. Suh has an interesting matchup with Wes Schweitzer, who has played well this year but struggled in his last true challenge against the Bears’ Akiem Hicks. Wake, meanwhile, will be trying to get around Schraeder, who is back in action after missing two weeks with a concussion. The linebackers are probably underrated, and will go a long way toward helping to keep Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in check on the ground.
Is their defense good enough to truly stop Atlanta, even without Mohamed Sanu? Nah. But they can slow things down and keep it close, this could be a game.