The Atlanta Falcons wound up blowing a late lead in all-too-familiar fashion to the Washington Football Team, falling to 1-3 and putting their 2021 season in serious jeopardy. To be fair, there were some positives from the game: Atlanta’s offense looked legitimately good for the first time all season, and the Falcons actually appeared to be the better team through the majority of the game.
Another theoretically winnable game is coming up in Week 5, as the Falcons travel to London to take on the New York Jets. The Jets have been arguably the worst team in the NFL through four games, although they just got their first win of the season against an undermanned Titans team in overtime.
What are Atlanta’s chances of heading into the bye week at 2-3? Let’s take a closer look at the offensive and defensive stats to find out.
Note: We’re almost there with the stats! Things should be smoothing out in terms of weirdly high or low numbers over the next few games, but it’s still worth noting that these stats will continue to be somewhat volatile until then.
OFFENSE - WEEK 10
|Points/game||21.9 (21st)||30.1 (3rd)|
|Total yards/game||338.0 (20th)||434.3 (1st)|
|Yards per play||5.3 (T-22nd)||6.4 (1st)|
|Passing yards/game||257.6 (12th)||291.5 (4th)|
|Passing yards per attempt||7.1 (T-18th)||8.2 (T-5th)|
|Sack Percentage||4.4% (8th)||4.5% (9th)|
|Rushing yards/game||80.4 (29th)||142.8 (3rd)|
|Rushing yards per attempt||3.4 (31st)||4.9 (T-4th)|
|Scoring Efficiency||37.9% (19th)||46.0% (4th)|
|Red Zone Efficiency||63.0% (12th)||58.6% (16th)|
|Turnover Percentage||11.5% (T-18th)||11.5% (T-18th)|
|Third Down Efficiency||43.5% (10th)||46.1% (4th)|
The Falcons had their first consistently good offensive game of the season in Week 4, and their stats have improved as a result. Atlanta is now 25th in scoring offense, 24th in total yardage, and T-26th in yards play. Still not great numbers, but starting to rise from the dregs of the league. The Jets, meanwhile, are probably the NFL’s worst offense. New York is 32nd in scoring offense, 29th in total yardage, and 30th in yards per play. This is a big weakness for the Jets.
Atlanta has steadily improved their passing numbers every week, but Week 1’s abysmal outing is still dragging them down. The Falcons are currently 20th in passing yardage but just T-28th in yards per attempt—they’re still sitting at a pretty lethargic 6.1. Despite some early struggles in pass protection, Atlanta is allowing just a 4.7% sack rate through 4 games. That’s good for 9th in the league, and the young offensive line deserves some props.
The Jets are one of the least productive passing games in the NFL thus far, due to a combination of struggles from rookie QB Zach Wilson and an injury-plagued offensive line. New York is currently 28th in passing yardage and T-25th in yards per attempt. The aforementioned offensive line is a huge liability in pass protection, as the Jets are giving up a 10.3% sack rate as a result—31st in the league.
The Falcons have had flashes of productivity on the ground, but the consistency has simply not been there. Atlanta is currently 25th in rushing yardage and T-23rd in yards per carry with just 3.7. New York has struggled even more on the ground, as they’re 29th in rushing yardage and T-26th in yards per carry with 3.6. This is a weakness for both teams.
The Falcons have been improving little-by-little every week on offense, and the advanced stats really do show it. For starters, Atlanta has improved their scoring efficiency from league-low marks in Week 1 to 25th after Week 4. The red zone efficiency—which was 0% in Week 1—has improved all the way to 66.7%. That’s good for T-11th in the NFL. On third down, there have also been gradual gains: Atlanta is now 14th in the league with a respectable 41.4% conversion rate. The Falcons have also protected the football well, with just an 8.9% turnover rate (T-11th).
New York, as you might expect from their overall numbers, is faring quite poorly in the advanced stats. The Jets are the worst in the league in scoring efficiency, getting points on just 18.8% of their drives. They aren’t much better when they do make it to the red zone, with just a 42.9% conversion rate (29th). New York is a little bit better on third down, converting 35.8% of attempts (25th). One of their most consistent issues has been turning the ball over, as the Jets are currently T-29th with a 16.7% turnover rate.
Offensive Advantage: Falcons
DEFENSE - WEEK 10
|Points/game||27.5 (28th)||24.0 (T-18th)|
|Total yards/game||360.5 (17th)||371.5 (21st)|
|Yards per play||5.6 (T-17th)||6.0 (T-27th)|
|Passing yards/game||237.4 (13th)||270.5 (25th)|
|Passing yards per attempt||7.1 (T-10th)||7.8 (T-22nd)|
|Pressure Rate||18.6% (31st)||25.1% (16th)|
|Rushing yards/game||123.1 (24th)||101.0 (10th)|
|Rushing yards per attempt||4.4 (T-19th)||4.3 (T-14th)|
|Scoring Efficiency||43.9% (25th)||35.9% (13th)|
|Red Zone Efficiency||66.7% (T-21st)||68.0% (25th)|
|Turnover Percentage||8.5% (24th)||15.2% (6th)|
|Third Down Efficiency||47.9% (30th)||34.7% (7th)|
The Falcons scoring defense continues to get dragged down by TDs that really aren’t their fault. We’ve now seen two pick-sixes and a kickoff return TD. While I’d hesitate to call them good, I think they’re much closer to the 22nd defense than the 32nd. The numbers actually bear that out: if you subtract the 21 points from non-offensive TDs, Atlanta is actually 25th. But, as it stands now, the Falcons are 32nd in scoring defense, 23rd in total yardage allowed, and T-26th in yards per play.
The Jets have actually been an above-average defense through four weeks—which is all the more impressive considering how turnover-prone and ineffective their offense has been. New York is currently 14th in scoring defense, 13th in total yardage allowed, and 7th in yards per play. Despite how poor this team has looked overall, the defense is a definite strength.
Atlanta’s pass defense is nowhere near as bad as the league-worst unit they possessed in 2020, but they’re still below-average at best. The Falcons are currently 21st in passing yardage allowed and T-22nd in yards per attempt. Atlanta’s biggest weakness thus far has been an inability to generate consistent pressure, as the team is 30th in the league with just an 18.9% pressure rate.
The Jets have been consistently above average against the pass in 2021. New York is currently 12th in passing yardage allowed and T-12th in yards per attempt. They’ve also been pretty effective at generating pass rush, with a 26.5% pressure rate (T-12th).
As a run defense, the Falcons have been middling to below-average. Atlanta is currently 18th in rushing yardage allowed and T-20th in yards per carry. The Jets are in largely the same boat: 22nd in rushing yardage allowed and T-12th in yards per carry.
The advanced stats continue to show that the Falcons are a below-average defense—not a league-worst defense, as the scoring numbers suggest. Atlanta is currently 20th in scoring efficiency and T-22nd in red zone efficiency. They’ve also been below-average on third down, allowing a 43.8% conversion rate (21st). Where the Falcons have really struggled is in the turnover department—they’ve failed to record an interception thus far, and have dropped at least 7 over the course of the season. As you might expect, their turnover rate is quite low as a result: just 4.8%, T-26th.
The Jets advanced stats are quite a bit more complicated—and I imagine it has a lot to do with the turnover-prone nature of the offense. New York allows a pretty high scoring efficiency at 44.7% (T-27th), but they’ve been excellent at preventing TDs in the red zone (35.3% conversion rate, 4th). They’ve also been great on third down, allowing just a 28.6% conversion rate (3rd). The Jets have had similar struggles in the turnover department, as they’ve also failed to record an interception. New York is currently 30th in turnover rate.
Defensive Advantage: Jets
Offensively, the Falcons actually have the clear advantage for the first time this season. It helps when your opponent is the worst in the league in several statistical categories, but it’s still worth mentioning that Atlanta’s numbers have improved steadily since their abysmal start to the season. Whether it’s on the ground or through the air, the Falcons are the better offense.
On defense, the Jets have proven themselves to be a respectable group. I wonder, when paired with even a functional offense, if they might legitimately challenge for a top-5 unit. New York has been consistently good against the pass, but weaker against the run. That could be an area for the Falcons to target in this one.
Both of these teams had their fair share of struggles through four games, and both had some embarrassing blowouts. On the whole, the Falcons do appear to be the slightly better team—both on tape and in terms of the numbers. However, it’s also worth noting that both of these teams are coming into this matchup off their best performances of the season. With London always seeming to produce...interesting games, I’m expecting some surprises on Sunday morning.
Overall Projection: Falcons, slightly
What are your thoughts on the Falcons’ Week 5 matchup with the Jets? Do you think Atlanta heads into the bye week with a win and a still-salvageable 2-3 record?