Week 8 is here, and the highly anticipated match-up with the New York Jets has finally arrived. Who would’ve thought, from our abundance of confidence at the beginning of the season, that we’d now be treating this Jets game as a “must-win” and not feeling particularly confident about the Falcons’ chances? Time flies. 2017 is weird.
At any rate, this match-up should favor the Falcons on both sides of the ball. The question is if Atlanta can take advantage of an inferior opponent—something they haven’t been able to do this season. Let’s take a closer look at how the Falcons and Jets compare statistically after seven weeks.
Points/game: Falcons 21.3 (16th), Jets 19.6 (T-20th)
Total yards/game: Falcons 372.5 (7th), Jets 312.0 (21st)
Yards per play: Falcons 6.2 (2nd), Jets 5.3 (17th)
Passing yards/game: Falcons 252.0 (7th), Jets 208.7 (22nd)
Passing yards per attempt: Falcons 7.8 (7th), Jets 7.3 (T-9th)
Passing TDs: Falcons 7 (T-26th), Jets 10 (T-14th)
Rushing yards/game: Falcons 120.5 (11th), Jets 103.3 (19th)
Rushing yards per attempt: Falcons 4.9 (4th), Jets 4.3 (T-9th)
Rushing TDs: Falcons 6 (T-6th), Jets 5 (T-13th)
Third Down Efficiency: Falcons 42% (11th), Jets 40% (15th)
Turnover Margin: Falcons -4 (26th), Jets -2 (24th)
Despite whatever we just witnessed on Sunday Night Football, the Falcons remain—by most metrics—a top-10 offense. That’s kind of hard to fathom after the putrid play over the last two games, but there it is. Atlanta is 16th in points, 7th in total yards, and 2nd in yards per play. The Falcons are pretty good in the passing game, as they’re 7th in passing yards and 7th in yards per attempt, but they’re T-26th in passing TDs (only 7 on the season). Atlanta has arguably been more effective on the ground, as the team is 11th in rushing yards, 4th in yards per carry, and T-6th in rushing TDs. They fell quite a bit in third down efficiency after Sunday’s awful performance, and are now 11th in the NFL with a 42% conversion rate. Turnover margin remains a problem for the Falcons, as they’re still -4 (26th).
The Jets are largely a below-average offense with a few notable exceptions. They’re T-20th in points, 21st in total yards, and 17th in yards per play. In the passing game, New York is 22nd in passing yards, T-9th in yards per attempt, and T-14th in passing TDs. They’re about as effective running the ball, as the team is 19th in rushing yards, T-9th in yards per carry, and T-13th in rushing TDs. The Jets are about average on third down (15th) with a 40% conversion rate. The Jets defense has created plenty of turnovers over the past several weeks, but their offense has still been turning it over more. They’re -2 in turnover margin, good for 24th in the NFL.
Points/game: Falcons 22 (15th), Jets 23 (T-19th)
Total yards/game: Falcons 327.5 (14th), Jets 357.9 (25th)
Yards per play: Falcons 5.1 (12th), Jets 5.4 (21st)
Passing yards/game: Falcons 215.5 (13th), Jets 231.3 (20th)
Passing yards per attempt: Falcons 6.5 (T-7th), Jets 6.8 (T-13th)
Passing TDs: Falcons 9 (T-8th), Jets 15 (T-31st)
Rushing yards/game: Falcons 112.0 (16th), Jets 126.6 (28th)
Rushing yards per attempt: Falcons 4.3 (T-20th), Jets 4.3 (T-20th)
Rushing TDs: Falcons 2 (T-3rd), Jets 5 (T-19th)
Third Down Efficiency: Falcons 41% (T-18th), Jets 41% (T-18th)
Sacks: Falcons 14 (T-20th), Jets 10 (31st)
The Falcons defense struggled against the Patriots, but they’re still largely an above-average unit—which is a far cry from where they were statistically in 2016 at this point. Atlanta is 15th in points, 14th in total yards, and 12th in yards per play. So far, the Falcons are better against the pass than the run. The team is 13th in passing yards, T-7th in yards per attempt, and T-8th in passing TDs. On the ground, the Falcons are 16th in yards, T-20th in yards per carry, and T-3rd in rushing TDs (only two allowed on the season). Atlanta is slightly below average on third down, allowing 41% of attempts to be converted (T-18th). The Falcons’ 14 sacks through six games are good for T-20th in the league.
The Jets are a below-average defense by most statistics. New York is T-19th in points, 25th in yards, and 21st in yards per play. The Jets have been slightly better against the pass thus far in 2017, as the team is 20th in passing yards, T-13th in yards per attempt, and T-31st in passing TDs (15 allowed on the season). Against the run, the Jets are 28th in yards, T-20th in yards per attempt, and T-19th in rushing TDs. New York is also slightly below average on third down, with a 41% conversion rate allowed (T-18th, the same as Atlanta). The Jets are among the worst pass rushing teams in the league, with only 10 sacks through seven games (31st).
The Falcons are the better team on both sides of the ball, both talent-wise and statistically. It all depends on which version of this Atlanta team shows up in New York. Is it the team that dominated the Packers in Week 2, or the team that got thoroughly embarrassed by the Patriots on Sunday Night Football? Can the Falcons work through their offensive issues and get their first win in what seems like ages?
The answer is, they should be able to. New York is not a pushover team, despite all the rumors of them “tanking” this offseason. They’ve been frisky and have played a lot of close games thus far. The Falcons will not be able to come out and play weak, uninspired football and come up with a win on Sunday. This game is arguably a must-win for this team, which is coming into what could be the roughest three-game stretch on the schedule. After the Jets, it’s a road trip to Carolina, the Cowboys at home, and then a trip to Seattle.
Atlanta must find a way to get a win on Sunday and restore some confidence in themselves. The secret to that might be a run-heavy approach with some play-action passing off of it. New York struggles to contain the run, and the Falcons absolutely need to lean more on Freeman, Coleman, and the offensive line with their recent schematic troubles. Here’s to hoping that Sarkisian shows some signs of growth and the offense begins to find a rhythm again.
And please, god, no more jet sweeps on 4th and goal. I can’t handle that ever again.
Overall Advantage: Falcons
What are your thoughts on this match-up? Do you think the Falcons can get back on track against the Jets, or is this just another depressing loss waiting to happen?