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Bird’s Eye View: How Atlanta’s remaining opponents played in Week 5

A look at what lies ahead for the Falcons.

Welcome back to Bird’s Eye View!

The Falcons got back in the win column thanks to another great defensive performance and Desmond Ridder’s best day as an NFL quarterback.

As always, the league’s landscape shifts and changes with each passing week. The biggest matchup is always the next one, especially with a defensive line like Washington’s, but that’s for the team to worry about. We’ve got our eye on the bigger picture.

A brief refresher for those who may be reading this piece for the first time: This exercise is meant to provide a quick synopsis of how each team did the previous week. I’ll highlight a standout player from each side of the ball, and for the two teams next on Atlanta’s schedule, I’ll include a potential x-factor player for the upcoming matchup.

Here’s how Week 5 went for the Falcons’ remaining opponents.

Week 6 – Washington Commanders (2-3)

Last three games:

- Week 3: Loss vs Buffalo (37-3)

- Week 4: Loss at Philadelphia (34-31)

- Week 5: Loss vs Chicago (40-20)

Tweet-length summary of Commanders in Week 5:

The Commanders lost by 20 points to the Chicago Bears, which is about all you need to know about how this team is playing. The offense can’t consistently string together drives, and a great defensive line can’t make up for the team’s coverage breakdowns.

Best offensive player in Week 5: LT Charles Leno Jr.

Washington has allowed the second-most sacks in the league through five games, but Leno held up well against Chicago on Thursday night. He surrendered just two pressures, according to PFF, on a night when the Bears finished with five sacks. There will be opportunities for Atlanta to get to Sam Howell, but Leno at least played well.

Best defensive player in Week 5: DE Chase Young

You could take your pick here between either of Washington’s ends. Montez Sweat led the team with 1.5 sacks, but Young had a whopping 11 pressures against Justin Fields, per PFF. Young has 27 pressures so far this season, tied with Nick Bosa and TJ Watt as the fourth-most in the NFL this season.

X-factor for Commanders in Week 6: DE Montez Sweat

The clearest path for Washington to take over this game is through their excellent defensive ends. If Kaleb McGary is ruled out for this game with the knee injury that forced him out of action for the end of the game against Houston, the Falcons will be down a tackle against one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league. Given Jake Matthews’ own struggles against speed rushers this year, Sweat’s length and explosiveness could be a problem on either side.

Team stat to know: The Commanders have the sixth-best red-zone defense in the league, allowing a touchdown 44.4 percent of the time.

Weeks 7 & 14 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1)

Last three games:

- Week 3: Loss vs Philadelphia (25-11)

- Week 4: Win at New Orleans (26-9)

- Week 5: Bye

Tweet-length summary of Buccaneers in Week 5:

Took the week off like a bunch of lazybones.

Best offensive player in Week 5:

Best defensive player in Week 5:

X-factor for Buccaneers in Week 7: QB Baker Mayfield

The reason many expected Tampa Bay to take a big step back in 2023, Mayfield has the Buccaneers’ offense playing relatively well. His passer rating of 101.5 ranks eighth among all NFL quarterbacks this season, and he owns a very respectable 7:2 touchdown to interception ratio. Tampa Bay isn’t asking Mayfield to play hero ball, and he’s responding.

Team stat to know: The Buccaneers have the third-best interception rate in the NFL.

Week 8 – Tennessee Titans (2-3)

Last three games:

- Week 3: Loss at Cleveland (3-27)

- Week 4: Win vs Bengals (27-3)

- Week 5: Loss at Indianapolis (16-23)

Tweet-length summary of Titans in Week 5:

This was a tight division matchup, and the Titans are improving from the team we saw at the beginning of the season. Tyjae Spears is a really nice complement to Derrick Henry in the backfield, and DeAndre Hopkins just put together his best game of the year.

Best offensive player in Week 5: WR DeAndre Hopkins

Nuk exploded for 140 yards on eight receptions, and although he’s yet to score a touchdown, he looked much closer to form. Hopkins was the highest-graded offensive player for the Titans, per PFF.

Best defensive player in Week 5: S Kevin Byard

Byard has been solid all season and remains one of the league’s best safeties. His versatility adds to the flexibility of Tennessee’s defense, and he’s one of the best tacklers at his position in the league.

Team stat to know: Tennessee allows the seventh-fewest rushing yards per play.

Week 9 – Minnesota Vikings (1-4)

Last three games:

- Week 3: Loss vs Minnesota (28-24)

- Week 4: Win at Carolina (21-13)

- Week 5: Loss vs Kansas City (27-20)

Tweet-length summary of Vikings in Week 5:

This was an entertaining game, and the Vikings held their own well against a Chiefs team still seeking its final form. Still, there’s just something off about this offense and that won’t get any better without Justin Jefferson for the foreseeable future.

Best offensive player in Week 5: C Garrett Bradbury

Minnesota’s offensive line fared pretty well, overall, but Bradbury was by far the best interior lineman. Against a player as good as Chris Jones, that’s notable. Much of the pressure Kirk Cousins faced came from the edges, which helped the Vikings’ pass game have time for success.

Best defensive player in Week 5: MLB Jordan Hicks

Hicks is in his second year as the middle linebacker for Minnesota, but the former Eagle and Cardinal has played well since arriving in Minnesota. Perhaps his best game of the season came against the Chiefs. He was all over the place, pressuring Patrick Mahomes, shutting down Kansas City’s run game and breaking up a pass in coverage.

Team stat to know: Minnesota’s 12 turnovers this season are the most in the NFL.

Week 10 – Arizona Cardinals (1-4)

Last three games:

- Week 3: Win vs Dallas (28-16)

- Week 4: Loss at San Francisco (35-16)

- Week 5: Loss vs Cincinnati (34-20)

Tweet-length summary of Cardinals in Week 5:

Looks like this article series is already making some waves!

Best offensive player in Week 5: RB James Conner

This was not a banner day for the Cardinals’ offense, and unfortunately, they will be without Conner for the foreseeable future after he landed on IR with a knee injury. Before exiting the game, Conner averaged a very healthy 7.7 yards per carry on his six rush attempts against Cincinnati.

Best defensive player in Week 5: CB Antonio Hamilton

Hamilton got a somewhat surprising start at cornerback for the Cardinals in this game, but the veteran corner played really well. Despite heading to the locker room twice due to injuries, he had seven tackles and very nearly came down with an interception.

Team stat to know: The Cardinals rank second in yards per rushing attempt with 5.47.

Weeks 12 & 18 – New Orleans Saints (3-2)

Last three games:

- Week 3: Loss at Green Bay (18-17)

- Week 4: Loss vs Tampa Bay (26-9)

- Week 5: Win at New England (34-0)

Tweet-length summary of Saints in Week 5:

A game involving two NFL teams took place. An outcome occurred.

Best offensive player in Week 5: QB Derek Carr

Carr wasn’t asked to do much in this game, but he delivered when called upon. He kept the offense in rhythm and delivered the ball on time, finishing this game with 18 completions on 26 attempts for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Not eye-popping numbers, but he had a hand in the offense clicking.

Best defensive player in Week 5: S Tyrann Mathieu

Honey Badger don’t care.

Team stat to know: The Saints have allowed the fourth-fewest points to opposing offenses through five games.

Week 13 – New York Jets (2-3)

Last three games:

- Week 3: Loss vs New England (15-10)

- Week 4: Loss vs Kansas City (23-20)

- Week 5: Win at Denver (31-21)

Tweet-length summary of Jets in Week 5:

Best offensive player in Week 5: RB Breece Hall

Breece Hall is back, baby! It was great to see the young running back look so explosive after his rookie year ended early due to an ACL injury. He carried the ball 22 times in this one for 177 yards and a touchdown. Zach Wilson won’t have to do too much if Hall keeps this up.

Best defensive player in Week 5: LB C.J. Mosley

On a defense loaded with playmakers, Mosley continues to make a case as the best one. He led the team with 13 tackles and held up well in coverage.

Team stat to know: The Jets average 160.4 passing yards per game, which is the lowest number in the NFL.

Week 15 – Carolina Panthers (0-5)

Last three games:

- Week 3: Loss at Seattle (27-37)

- Week 4: Loss vs Minnesota (21-13)

- Week 5: Loss at Detroit (24-42)

Tweet-length summary of Panthers in Week 5:

Remember when we expected the NFC South to come down to the Panthers and Falcons?

Best offensive player in Week 5: WR Adam Thielen

Thielen continues to turn back the clock for Carolina, but the Panthers remain in the market for a top receiver to add to their offense. Still, Thielen had 11 catches for 107 yards and caught one of Bryce Young’s three touchdowns against Detroit.

Best defensive player in Week 5: DE Brian Burns

We all know how good Burns is, and he added another sack to his resume against Detroit. He now has four on the year.

Team stat to know: The Panthers rank fourth in sacks per pass attempt.

Week 16 – Indianapolis Colts (3-2)

Last three games:

- Week 3: Win at Baltimore (22-19)

- Week 4: Loss vs Los Angeles Rams (29-23)

- Week 5: Win vs Tennessee (16-23)

Tweet-length summary of Colts in Week 5:

You’ll take the win, but it came at the cost of Anthony Richardson. Reports are that the rookie quarterback could miss as many as eight games after landing on IR due to an AC joint sprain. That’s a shame considering how well he has played.

Best offensive player in Week 5: WR Josh Downs

The former Tar Heels star had his best day as a pro. Downs caught all six of the passes thrown his way to lead all Colts with 97 yards. Notably, he was productive with both Richardson and Gardner Minshew behind center.

Best defensive player in Week 5: S Julian Blackmon

Neither defense in this game had an amazing outing, but the safeties in this contest were noteworthy. Blackmon forced an interception on the only pass thrown his direction.

Team stat to know: The Colts' defense allows 382 yards per game, which ranks 28th.

Week 17 – Chicago Bears (1-4)

Last three games:

- Week 3: Loss at Kansas City (41-10)

- Week 4: Loss vs Denver (31-28)

- Week 5: Win at Washington (40-20)

Tweet-length summary of Bears in Week 5:

Have the real Bears emerged from hibernation or was DJ Moore just out for blood and honey on Thursday night?

Best offensive player in Week 5: WR DJ Moore

The NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week, Moore was sensational against Washington’s defense. He caught eight passes for a whopping 230 yards and three touchdowns. Moore absolutely worked the Commanders’ cornerbacks on Thursday and looked like the star Justin Fields needs in the passing game.

Best defensive player in Week 5: CB Terrell Smith

Smith held up really well in coverage against Curtis Samuel, Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, allowing just 28 yards to those receivers when targeted.

Team stat to know: The Bears have the worst third-down defense in the NFL by opponent conversion rate.