A voyage across the pond resulted in a much needed victory for the Atlanta Falcons against the New York Jets in week five. An early season bye week allowed the team to gain proper rest and for a few early-season wounds to heel.
Now the team is on the road against another AFC East opponent. One that is desperate for a victory and also played across the pond last week.
Game: Falcons vs. Dolphins
Location: Miami, Florida
Time and television: Oct 24th, 1:00 PM EST, Fox Network
Key in-game matchup: Falcons defensive takeaways vs. Dolphins offensive giveaways
Five games into the season, the Falcons defensive unit has been far from opportunistic. In terms of turnovers forced, the Falcons have only managed three, and one of those came in their last outing against the Jets. Missed opportunities versus Washington in week four proved to be extremely costly, especially in the second half when the team dropped two possible interceptions.
While they do not have an abundance of game-changing talent, they have had moments when they could have altered the game considerably with turnovers. The Dolphins themselves are tied for 13th in the NFL in giveaways with a total of seven. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been a little reckless at times with the football and has been known so far in his early career to force things, which results in giving the opposing team an extra opportunity to score. In this matchup, the door may be open for the Falcons to steal an extra possession or two and taking advantage could be massive.
One key player to watch: WR Calvin Ridley
It was an odd occurrence that caused the Falcons to miss an important playmaker in their London matchup against the Jets, one we’ll never know about unless Calvin Ridley chooses to tell us. But his absence took a key component from the offensive makeup. Ridley is going to be heavily relied upon as the offense still looks to find their footing after five games.
If there was ever a week for him to reinsert himself as the reliable pass catcher he has been throughout his career, this is the one. The Dolphins may be without their top two corners in this one in Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Their secondary has been largely inconsistent and the unit as a whole is 29th in the NFL in passing yards per game allowed. The stage is set for Ridley to be productive and that would be an outing he truly needs at this point.
How the Falcons can win: Build on momentum
There is plenty of momentum right now for the Falcons. They picked up a needed win in London, was able to rest and restore, receives their top weapon back this week, and has shown an impressive sight of progression on both sides of the ball in recent weeks.
Sure, the opposing record says 1-5 and on paper this looks like a favorable matchup for Atlanta. On the other hand, these are the type of games that they tend to trip on. Games in which the expectation level is quite established and the team still manages to either scrap and claw for a victory or find themselves on the disappointing end with a defeat. These are also the type of games where head coach Arthur Smith can lean on to rewrite the narrative a little for Atlanta.
The winning opportunity is there for the Falcons. They just have to simply grasp it.