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By the Numbers stats preview: Falcons at Colts

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The Falcons got their first win of the season against the Eagles in Week 2. Now Atlanta goes on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts. How do these two teams matchup statistically on offense and defense heading into Week 3?

NFL: NOV 22 Colts at Falcons Photo by Frank Mattia/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Falcons (1-1) got their first win of the 2019 season on Sunday Night Football against the Eagles (1-1): a thrilling 24-20 win that probably should’ve been more decisive. Atlanta now heads back on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts (1-1) who are also coming off their first win of the season.

We’ve seen one dumpster fire and one pretty-good-but-flawed performance from the Falcons, so this week’s matchup against the Colts should tell us a lot about the overall direction of the team. A win here would give Atlanta and the fans some confidence heading into a tough stretch of the schedule, while a loss would only introduce more questions to the equation. Even with star QB Andrew Luck no longer in the picture, the Colts under new starter Jacoby Brissett are no pushover.

Let’s take a closer look at how Atlanta and Indianapolis matchup statistically heading into Week 3.

OFFENSE

Statistic Falcons Jaguars
Statistic Falcons Jaguars
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 a better game on offense in Week 2, although their overall stats are still pretty average. Atlanta is currently T-23rd in points scored, 17th in total yardage, and 16th in yards per play. The team has been decidedly above average in the passing game: they’re 9th in passing yardage, T-18th in yards per attempt, and T-4th in passing TDs. On the ground, the Falcons have struggled thus far: they’re 28th in rushing yardage, T-22nd in yards per carry, and T-26th in rushing TDs (still zero on the year). Atlanta has been pretty poor on third downs thus far, converting just 28% of their attempts (25th), and are still near the bottom of the league in turnover margin (-3, 30th).

Indianapolis has been slightly below-average on offense through two games, which is quite an accomplishment with Andrew Luck retiring just before the season and Jacoby Brissett taking over. The Colts are 14th in points scored, T-22nd in total yardage, and 23rd in yards per play. They’ve struggled the most in the passing game: they’re dead last in passing yardage, 28th in yards per attempt, but surprisingly T-4th in passing TDs. Indy has been much better on the ground: they’re currently T-2nd in rushing yardage, 6th in yards per carry, and T-17th in rushing TDs. The Colts have been effective on third down, converting 52% of attempts (8th), and are even in turnover margin (T-15th).

Advantage: Push

DEFENSE

Statistic Falcons Jaguars
Statistic Falcons Jaguars
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)

Atlanta has had quite an impressive start to the season on defense despite a total catastrophe in Week 1 against the Vikings. The Falcons are currently 22nd in points allowed, 3rd in total yardage, and 5th in yards per play. They’ve been excellent at defending the pass and are currently leading the league in passing yardage allowed, T-4th in yards per attempt, and T-7th in passing TDs allowed. After an abysmal game against the run in Week 1, the team rebounded against the Eagles in a big way: they’re now just 16th in rushing yardage allowed, 8th in yards per carry, but still T-30th in rushing TDs allowed. Atlanta has struggled on third down, allowing a 50% conversion rate (28th), but have been about league average in sacks (4, T-19th).

The Colts have been a slightly below-average defense overall through two games. Indianapolis is currently 21st in points allowed, 14th in total yardage, and 17th in yards per play. Their strength has been pass defense: they’re 10th in passing yardage allowed, 20th in yards per attempt, and T-18th in passing TDs allowed. The Colts have struggled against the run, however: they’re T-20th in rushing yards allowed, 27th in yards per carry, and T-20th in rushing TDs allowed. Indianapolis has been above-average on third down, allowing a 38% conversion rate (T-13th), and have been excellent at generating sacks thus far (8, T-2nd).

Advantage: Falcons

Analysis

After a truly horrible Week 1, the Falcons rebounded against the Eagles with a strong game on both sides of the ball (outside of the turnovers, of course). Atlanta and Indianapolis are actually fairly well-matched on the offensive side of the ball, with the Falcons having a much stronger passing game but the Colts having an excellent rushing attack. The difference in this game will likely come down to Matt Ryan being able to limit his turnovers: if the Falcons can avoid giving the ball away, the offense should be a lot more consistent.

On defense, the Falcons have a decisive advantage against both the run and pass. Atlanta has been one of the NFL’s best passing defenses through two games, and the Colts have struggled throwing the ball thus far. Indy has been effective running the ball, so this game could be a real test for a Falcons run defense that got gashed in Week 1 but completely shut down the Eagles in Week 2. A key in this game will be getting more third down stops: the biggest weakness of the Falcons defense through two weeks has been allowing a 50% conversion rate on third down.

Overall, the Falcons have the advantage due to what looks like a superior defense and passing attack. Atlanta will look to get out to an early lead to force the Colts to throw the ball, which seems like the most favorable matchup for the Falcons. Perhaps Atlanta’s rushing attack can finally get going against the Colts, who have thus far struggled mightily on the ground. There are also several key injuries to monitor for Indianapolis: LB Darius Leonard has thus far failed to practice with a concussion, and starting RB Marlon Mack remains sidelined with a calf injury. If neither of those players can go, this will be a very difficult matchup for the Colts.

Overall Advantage: Falcons


How do you think the Falcons and Colts compare statistically? What’s your prediction for the game on Sunday?