The Falcons (4-9) pulled off the sweep over the slumping Panthers (5-8) in Week 14, putting forth their most productive performance of the season on offense in a 40-20 drubbing. The offensive line looked strong with rookie Chris Lindstrom and UDFA Matt Gono splitting snaps at RG, and the running game got going for only the second time this season. An excellent performance from the pass rush and some opportune interceptions from Damontae Kazee also contributed to an all-around good game.
This week, Atlanta travels to face the NFC’s top seed: the San Francisco 49ers (11-2). San Francisco is fresh off a crazy, last-second win over the Saints—for which we’re very thankful—to knock New Orleans out of the top seed. The 49ers are among the NFL’s best and will present a nearly insurmountable challenge for Atlanta. Let’s take a closer look at how these two teams match up on offense and defense heading into Week 15.
|Points/game||23.5 (15th)||17.9 (27th)|
|Total yards/game||370.3 (11th)||344.8 (20th)|
|Yards per play||5.5 (15th)||5.4 (18th)|
|Passing yards/game||288.9 (4th)||235.8 (14th)|
|Passing yards per attempt||7.4 (T-14th)||6.8 (T-18th)|
|Passing TDs||27 (T-5th)||20 (T-19th)|
|Rushing yards/game||81.4 (30th)||109.0 (15th)|
|Rushing yards per attempt||3.7 (T-26th)||4.5 (T-11th)|
|Rushing TDs||8 (T-23rd)||3 (32nd)|
|Third Down Efficiency||42% (14th)||33% (28th)|
|Turnover Margin||-6 (25th)||-3 (20th)|
The Falcons had their most productive outing of the 2019 season in Week 14, putting 40 points on the Panthers. Atlanta is now T-14th in scoring offense, 7th in total yardage, and 15th in yards per play. In the passing game, the team is 3rd in yardage, 14th in yards per attempt, and T-7th in TDs. On the ground, the Falcons are 30th in rushing yardage, T-26th in yards per carry, and T-24th in rushing TDs. Atlanta has been about league-average on third down, converting 40% of their opportunities (14th). The Falcons have continued to struggle in turnover margin, and are currently sitting at -7 on the season (27th).
San Francisco is among the league’s best offenses. The 49ers are currently 2nd in scoring offense, 4th in total yardage, and 6th in yards per play. In the passing game, the team is 13th in yardage, T-3rd in yards per attempt, and T-2nd in passing TDs. On the ground, San Francisco is 2nd in rushing yardage, T-7th in yards per carry, and T-2nd in rushing TDs. The 49ers are excellent on third down, converting 46% of their opportunities (3rd), and have been very good in turnover margin (+6, 8th).
|Points/game||26.1 (25th)||25.2 (23rd)|
|Total yards/game||362.6 (20th)||372.4 (24th)|
|Yards per play||5.8 (21st)||6.0 (28th)|
|Passing yards/game||253.7 (23rd)||232.3 (14th)|
|Passing yards per attempt||7.8 (T-24th)||7.9 (26th)|
|Passing TDs||25 (22nd)||21 (T-15th)|
|Rushing yards/game||108.9 (16th)||140.1 (29th)|
|Rushing yards per attempt||4.1 (T-10th)||5.1 (31st)|
|Rushing TDs||13 (T-20th)||19 (31st)|
|Third Down Efficiency||43% (24th)||41% (22nd)|
|Sacks||24 (T-29th)||43 (T-5th)|
The Falcons have been playing better on defense as of late, but they remain very inconsistent overall. Atlanta is 26th in scoring defense, 21st in total yardage allowed, and 23rd in yards per play allowed. Defending the pass, the team is 24th in yardage allowed, T-26th in yards per attempt, and T-23rd in passing TDs allowed. Against the run, the Falcons are T-15th in rushing yardage allowed, T-7th in yards per carry, and T-22nd in rushing TDs allowed. Atlanta has been bad on third down, allowing a 43% conversion rate (25th), and are among the league’s worst teams at creating sacks (23 on the year, T-29th).
The 49ers are a juggernaut on defense in 2019. San Francisco is currently 3rd in scoring defense, 2nd in total yardage allowed, an 2nd in yards per play allowed. The team is elite against the pass: 1st in passing yardage allowed, 2nd in yards per attempt, and T-9th in passing TDs allowed. They’ve been vulnerable to the run, however: the 49ers are 22nd in rushing yardage allowed, T-24th in yards per carry, and T-4th in rushing TDs allowed. San Francisco is excellent on third down, allowing only a 29% conversion rate (2nd), and are among the league’s most ferocious pass rushes (45 sacks, 3rd).
This is perhaps the most lopsided game on the schedule for the Falcons. The 49ers are one of the NFL’s elite teams on both sides of the ball, and are a Super Bowl favorite at this point. Atlanta is...well, competitive most weeks as of late, but clearly on another level altogether than San Francisco.
The 49ers match up well with the Falcons in terms of strengths and weaknesses. San Francisco’s biggest issue is their run defense, but outside of last week against Carolina the Falcons have struggled to run the ball. They’ll also face the Falcons without WR Calvin Ridley and CB Desmond Trufant, who both wound up on IR after serious injuries in Week 14.
With Atlanta traveling across the country for this game, there simply doesn’t seem like much hope for a win this week. That shouldn’t be entirely surprising to fans, as the 49ers are one of the NFL’s best units. There’s always hope for an upset, but it would likely take a mistake-ridden performance from Jimmy Garoppolo and an other-worldly game from Ryan, Julio, and the offense to pull off that sort of miracle.
Overall Advantage: 49ers
How do you think the Falcons and 49ers compare statistically? What’s your prediction for the game on Sunday?