After a close win last week in Detroit, the Falcons come back home to face a Bills team with a struggling offense, though Atlanta’s injuries may loom large over this game. This week may seem pretty simple on paper but I’m not under any impressions that it will be that simple this Sunday.
The Falcons will still be without Vic Beasley and Courtney Upshaw, as well as Ricardo Allen this week. Damontae Kazee will step in for Allen and Takk McKinley will again start on the edge for Beasley. The Bills have ruled out left tackle Cordy Glenn so that will help level the playing field a bit when it comes to injuries.
Now, on to the matchups.
In the trenches
The Buffalo offensive line is struggling this year, giving up nine sacks and even more pressures thus far this season. Throw in the fact that they will be without Glenn this week, and it looks like Atlanta should be able to generate more pressure than they did last week.
Richie Incognito has played a solid four three games to start the season, but the other members of the Bills’ offensive line can be considered a liability. One would hope that Grady Jarrett and the rest of the Falcons defensive line would be able to generate pressure on Tyrod Taylor and plug up any holes that may open up in the running game.
The injury to Vic clearly hurts this team but there is no way around the fact that the Bills have issues along the line of scrimmage on offense, so the Falcons should be able to take advantage of that. If not, well . . . it may be a longer day than many would hope.
Advantage: Atlanta Falcons
The skill positions with the Bills starts with star wideout Sammy Wa—wait, no. Nevermind. That’s right. They start with Jordan Matthews and LeSean McCoy and, unfortunately for Buffalo, they seem to kind of end there as well. Buffalo has the 27th best passing defense in the NFL, based on yardage gained.
Atlanta’s matchups on the edge look favorable on paper and it would seem to take a very poor performance this week for things to go contrary to that. Expect Atlanta to once again press and be aggressive. If they can keep the short passes in front and make tackles in space, there is no real explosive threat for Buffalo to score.
However, if Atlanta’s defensive backs play poorly, Tyrod Taylor and McCoy are capable of making plays. Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford can’t bail out receivers with any meaningless penalties, and they will need to play a little tighter since Kazee is starting for the first time in his career.
I think Atlanta will be able to lock down the outside, so it will really come down to the running game and stopping McCoy when/if he catches passes out of the backfield. I feel pretty confident that Trufant, Deion Jones, DeVondre Campbell, and the rest of the Falcons defense will be able to do just that.
Advantage: Atlanta Falcons
If Atlanta gives Taylor a ton of time or lets him escape the pocket, he is a good enough athlete that has a tendency to play above the talent around him that he can make them pay for some mistakes. The Falcons will need to keep him contained and pick and choose the time and places to pressure if they want to keep him off balance.
I like Atlanta’s secondary against just about any group of wide receivers and this group from Buffalo is no exception. Atlanta should be able to stay with Matthews and the other Bills wide receivers, forcing some tough throws by Taylor. This won’t be a shutout or anything close to it, but Atlanta will win the matchup here. Team speed and solid tackling pay off in a big way on Sunday.