The Falcons have faced three quality backs in the last four weeks. They impressively bottled up Saquon Barkley and Adrian Peterson, but they allowed Nick Chubb to utterly destroy them and lay waste to their lands, and it’s not a coincidence that they also lost that game.
This week, it’s Ezekiel Elliott, who the Falcons avoided the last time these two teams met. Elliott is incredibly dangerous on the ground—he has just seven games out of 34 in his career where he’s managed fewer than 80 yards—and is a useful player through the air as well. He’s coming off a nearly 200 combined yard effort against the Eagles where he ran 19 times for 151 yards, and if it goes anything like that against the Falcons, Atlanta’s in huge trouble.
So the obvious question is, will the Falcons stop him? Can they?
Both questions should be met with a tired sigh and a dubious stare. The Falcons can, if they’re playing at a very high level, put the brakes on quality backs. But they need to execute at an extremely high level against one as good as Elliott, and the Cowboys are going to lean heavily on him. The chances of them bottling him up entirely are not good unless they can get a big lead and get him out of the gameplan entirely. That’s even if Deion Jones comes back, though he would obviously help a great deal.
That’s not to say that the Falcons are doomed, because I still think they’ll wind up winning this one at home. It is to say that there’s probably a long afternoon in store for this defense, and I just hope they can keep him from ruining the defense single-handedly.
What say you?