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Falcons vs. Bills Week 17 game preview and predictions

Atlanta’s slim playoff hopes are on the line in Buffalo against one of the best offenses in the league.

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons (+14.5) get to travel to Buffalo in January to face one of the best offenses in the league. While they’ve played well on the road this year, this trip has the potential to be ugly. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills (-14.5) are coming off an impressive victory over the New England Patriots that has put them back on top of the AFC East for now. This game matters to them as they look to secure a playoff game at home by winning the division.

The Falcons offense has struggled in its first year under Arthur Smith. While they’ve had some good moments here and there, it’s clear the lack of talent at WR is hurting their productivity. Additionally, the offensive line has been radically inconsistent and Matt Ryan is once again at the top of the list of most hit QBs. That’s not great for a quarterback who is 36 years old. Kyle Pitts has been quietly impressive as a rookie and Cordarrelle Patterson is a fan favorite, but little else on this offense seems to work well. WR Russell Gage has been better lately, but he’s also prone to big mistakes at the worst possible times.

The Bills offense is third in the league in scoring and they’re led by a dynamic, athletic QB in Josh Allen. He’s got a rocket for an arm and has over 600 yards rushing this year as well. He is prone to the occasional lapse in judgement, but his positives far outweigh the negatives. His receiving corps features Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley. Beasley is currently on the COVID list and missed the game against the Patriots but could be back in time for this matchup. Running back Devin Singletary leads the ground attack, but this is definitely a pass-heavy offense.

The Falcons defense is bad. Really bad. Dead last in sacks but decent enough against the run. This is a unit that needs a complete overhaul, particularly in the trenches. A.J. Terrell continues to have an All-Pro worthy season at corner, but he can’t compensate for the poor play elsewhere. This is a team that made Tim Boyle look like a decent QB in Week 16 when they hosted the Lions. Josh Allen may ascend to deity status against this Atlanta defense.

Surprisingly, the Bills aren’t a great pass rushing team either. They have just 28 sacks this year, which ranks 27th in the league (which is still 12 more than the 16 the Falcons have). They’re also in the middle of the pack against the run, giving up 4.3 yards per carry. The Falcons may want to try and establish the run in this game to try and keep Allen and his merry band of receivers off the field.

Is this a lopsided matchup? Yes, it is. The Falcons best hope is to lean heavily on their running game and to try and dominate time of possession. If they get into a shootout, it’s likely to turn into a bloodbath. Atlanta has played well enough against sub-par teams, but they’ve been beaten down by playoff teams. This doesn’t look like it will be any different. Miracles do happen occasionally and that’s what it’s going to take for the Falcons to keep this one close.

The Falcons are expected to be crushed as the DraftKings Sportbook has them losing by more than two touchdowns. Woof.

Our predictions

Score prediction: Falcons 17, Bills 35

Bold prediction: We see far more of Feleipe Franks than we ever hoped possible.

Your predictions

Vote in our poll and leave your score predictions in the comments.

Poll

Falcons vs. Bills Week 17

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Falcons
    (72 votes)
  • 76%
    Bills
    (232 votes)
304 votes total Vote Now

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.