There are no simple matchups left on the docket for the Atlanta falcons in 2020. Their remaining six games are against the scuffling but talented Buccaneers (twice), a Saints team that just beat them, the high-flying Chargers, the dominant Chiefs, and of course a rolling Raiders team. That last one comes first, and is the most straightforward non-Chargers game left.
Simply put, if the Falcons can make a few good plays on defense and their passing game plays up to potential for a change, they have a good shot of winning. If they look like they did against the Saints, they’re going to get crushed. With that in mind, how are we feeling about the matchup ahead?
Falcons 28 - Raiders 27
There are a couple of factors here. The Falcons have, under Raheem Morris, twice put together pretty strong wins after crushing losses, the first time in his first game as a coach against the Vikings and the second following the last-minute loss to the Lions against the Panthers. I think their chances of bouncing back from the Saints loss to play something much more competitive are pretty good.
The second is that the Falcons simply won’t let us get comfortable with the idea that they’re going to stink out loud the rest of the way, so they’ll probably come up with something unexpectedly quality. The third is that the Falcons have the passing attack on paper to keep this one close, given the putrid Las Vegas pass defense.
I expected it to be close against the Saints because I assumed they would have learned something from their loss in 2019, which was foolish. I expect them to hang against the Raiders simply because the Raiders shouldn’t be able to stop them through the air, which seems more reasonable. —Dave Choate
Raiders 34 - Falcons 24
I really don’t like this matchup for the Falcons. This isn’t the Raiders of yesteryear. This group is young, skilled, and tougher than a punch in the mouth after having your wisdom teeth pulled. What REALLY concerns me is the fact that Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is playing the best football of his career. This will have to be a game where the offense needs to be clicking on all cylinders because of how good the Raiders can be offensively. But as we all know by this point, the Falcons have not been able to be that sound on the offensive side of the ball all season. - Eric Robinson
Falcons 28 - Raiders 31
Matt Ryan and the offense will face a defense that is second to last in the league in sacks. There’s no Cameron Jordan on this defensive line, which should help with the downfield passing that Dirk Koetter is obsessed with. However, the other side of the ball is stacked as well. Derek Carr is playing really well and Darren Waller is going to be a big problem for Atlanta. This one looks like a shootout and right now you have to give the odds to the team with the winning record. - David Walker
Falcons 15 - Raiders 34
Raheem Morris can beat bad teams (most of the time) but this team shriveled up against a decent team missing its top corner and quarterback. The Raiders are a decent team currently looking great with the Derek Carr and Jon Gruden combo. The Raiders will certainly score with ease while Dirk Koetter struggles with scoring (an important part of the NFL, where winners are typically the team that scores the most points). I’d be shocked if the Falcons could keep this close let alone pull out the win. - Matt Chambers