The Atlanta Falcons started off their Week 2 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers about as poorly as expected, quickly falling behind before halftime and looking out of sorts on both sides of the ball. However, a third quarter rally brought the team within 2 points, as Atlanta roared back to life and appeared to be giving the defending Super Bowl champions a game heading into the fourth quarter. Some big mistakes late, including two pick-sixes, caused things to end in another blowout—but there were some encouraging signs.
This week, the Falcons travel to take on a much easier opponent in the struggling New York Giants. Another 0-2 team, the Giants represent an opportunity for Atlanta to get back in the win column and reinvigorate the fanbase with some small amount of hope for the rest of the season.
What are Atlanta’s chances of snagging their first win of the season in Week 3? Let’s take a look at the offensive and defensive statistics to see if we can deduce any potential signs of weakness.
Note: As we’ve only got two games in the books, the statistics are going to be a little funky. It’s important to note that these numbers will be quite volatile until around Week 5, as there are fewer data points to consider. Don’t take these numbers too seriously until we get a few more games under our belt.
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)|
Atlanta was much better on offense in Week 2, but are still languishing near the bottom of the league due to their poor showing in Week 1. The Falcons’ 15.5 points per game is 30th in the NFL. In terms of yardage, Atlanta is 25th in total yards (304 per game) and 28th in yards per play (4.6). The Giants are a slightly below-average offense overall, at 21.0 points per game (22nd), 352.5 yards per game (19th), and 5.7 yards per play (15th).
Despite a better day from the passing game in Week 2, Atlanta is still near the bottom of the league in these statistics. The Falcons are averaging 214.5 passing yards per game (24th) and 5.6 yards per attempt (28th). Despite the offensive line issues, Atlanta has managed to avoid a high number of actual sacks: the team has allowed just a 4.6% sack rate, good for 13th. The Giants, meanwhile, are about league-average with 241.0 passing yards per game (T-16th) and 7.5 yards per attempt (T-16th). They’ve struggled in pass protection, however, allowing an 8% sack rate (25th).
After strong opening performance on the ground, the Falcons predictably struggled to run the ball against Tampa Bay’s defense. After two games, Atlanta is below-average with 89.5 rushing yards per game (24th) and 3.9 yards per carry (T-19th). New York, on the other hand, has been slightly above-average running the ball with 111.5 rushing yards per game (15th) and 4.6 yards per carry (11th).
With how poorly the offense played in Week 1, the Falcons are still among the league’s worst in many of the advanced statistics. Atlanta is struggling in scoring efficiency at 24.0% (29th), although the team rebounded in the red zone this week and are now at a respectable 50% (T-19th). A series of unlucky turnovers caused the Falcons to tumble all the way to a 12.0% turnover rate (17th), and the team is still poor overall on third down (31.0%, 30th).
The Giants offense is a mixed bag in the advanced statistics, although they’re above-average overall. New York has been good in scoring efficiency with a 45.0% mark (T-12th), but they’ve struggled mightily in the red zone (33.3% efficiency, T-29th). After a turnover-plagued start to his career, Daniel Jones and the rest of the Giants offense have been good at limiting them through the first two games (5.0% turnover rate, 7th). New York has also been above-average on third down, converting 41.7% of their opportunities (T-12th).
Offensive Advantage: Giants
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)|
After allowing 32 points in Week 1, the Falcons set a new franchise record for points allowed through two games by allowing 48 in Week 2 against Tampa Bay. That number is a little unfair to the defense, as 14 of those points were the direct result of pick-sixes and another 7 came after a turnover inside the 10, but it’s still far from good. The Falcons are currently allowing a whopping 40 points per game (32nd), but have been merely below-average in total yardage (387.5 per game, 21st) and yards per play (6.1, T-22nd). The Giants have been better, but not by much: New York is currently allowing 28.5 points per game (25th), 413.5 yards per game (26th), and 6.1 yards per play (T-22nd).
While Atlanta has struggled in scoring defense, they’ve actually been a lot better in pass defense compared to 2020—we’ll call them below average. The Falcons are allowing 260 passing yards per game (19th), 7.6 yards per attempt (T-18th), and are currently T-20th in sack rate at 5.3%. The Giants are in a similar place, perhaps even a little worse overall. New York is allowing 287.5 passing yards per game (25th) and 7.3 yards per attempt (15th). They’ve struggled to sack opposing QBs thus far, with only a 3.5% sack rate (27th).
The Falcons had a better game against the run in Week 2, but have still fared poorly overall. Atlanta has allowed 127.5 rushing yards per game (24th) and 4.9 yards per carry (27th) through two games. The Giants are similarly weak against the run, allowing 126.0 rushing yards per game (T-21st) and 5.0 yards per carry (T-28th). This looks like a significant weakness for both teams.
The Falcons defense is a bit of an enigma when looking at the advanced statistics. For starters, they’ve actually been about league-average in scoring efficiency (43.5%, T-16th) and on third down (40.0% conversion rate, T-15th). However, they’re among the worst in red zone defense (87.5% TD rate, 27th) and have struggled to create turnovers (4.3% turnover rate, T-28th). Based on these numbers, this defense could be better than the early stats show over the course of an entire season.
The Giants are similarly confusing in the advanced defensive statistics. Most notably, New York has the league’s worst scoring efficiency, allowing a score on a whopping 57.9% of drives. In all the other categories, however, they’re fairly average: 13th in red zone defense (55.6%), 18th in turnover rate (10.5%), and 14th on third down (39.3% conversion rate, 14th).
Defensive Advantage: Giants, slightly
As you probably figured out by looking at these statistics, both of these teams have struggled on offense and defense over the first two games of the season. Unsurprisingly, both teams are 0-2 heading into Week 3. One of these two teams is going to come away with their first win on Sunday, and these stats do point to a slight advantage for the Giants. However, with just a two-game sample size at this point, all of these numbers should be taken with a big grain of salt.
On offense, the Giants have clearly had the better start. While New York didn’t put up big numbers in Week 1, they did at least have a functional offense through the majority of the game. Atlanta’s abysmal Week 1 showing will likely drag down their offensive statistics for some time. It’ll be interesting to see how Atlanta’s offense fares against what should be a below-average defense overall, as opposed to two of the stronger units in the NFL. The run game, in particular, could be a big factor against New York.
On defense, these two teams are actually pretty close. They’re both below-average defenses, overall, although the Falcons have allowed a lot more points. We know some of that is due to the pick-sixes against the Bucs, but not all of it. However, Atlanta’s yardage numbers—particularly against the pass—are much better than 2020’s. That should give fans hope for a better overall defense this season, even if it isn’t good.
Overall Projection: Giants slightly favored
What are your thoughts on the Falcons’ Week 3 matchup with the Giants? Do you think Atlanta gets their first win of the season on Sunday, or do they fall to 0-3 and cause us all to lose any hope that may have remained?