clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bird’s Eye View: How Atlanta’s remaining opponents played in Week 15

While we’re still free to look ahead, the Falcons had better continue to look inward

Welcome back to Bird’s Eye View!

The Falcons are in disarray following a demoralizing loss to the lowly Panthers. While Panthers players celebrated ruining the Falcons’ holidays and potential postseason plans, Atlanta was forced to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

That self-reflection led to the demotion of quarterback Desmond Ridder for the second time this season, but with the playoffs looking like a significant long shot, there are still more questions surrounding the organization. While we’re still free to look ahead, the Falcons had better continue to look inward.

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 the Falcons’ remaining opponents looked in Week 15:

Week 16 – vs Indianapolis Colts (8-6)

Last three games:

- Week 13: Win at Tennessee (31-28)

- Week 14: Loss at Cincinnati (34-14)

- Week 15: Win vs Pittsburgh (30-13)

Tweet-length summary of Colts in Week 15:

The Colts have now won three of their last four and are right in the thick of the AFC South division race and the AFC wildcard race. They’ve weathered injuries at key positions, finished close games and have forced the third-most turnovers. Must be nice.

Best offensive player in Week 15: QB Gardner Minshew

This was a great performance from the journeyman quarterback. He wasn’t asked to do too much, but he was efficient and threw the ball to all parts of the field. Minshew completed 18 of his 28 pass attempts for 215 yards with three touchdowns.

Best defensive player in Week 15: DE Samson Ebukam

Ebukam finished with 1.5 sacks and seven total pressures against the Steelers, which is par for the course for the Colts’ pass rushers. Ebukam has been great for Indianapolis in his first year with the team, recording 9.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss and three forced fumbles so far. On the defensive line, Ebukam is part of a capable rotation that also includes Dayo Odeyingbo, DeForest Buckner, Kwity Paye and Tyquan Lewis.

Team stat to know: Indianapolis’s defense has the fifth-best passing EPA/play allowed on first downs this season.

X-factor for the Colts in Week 16: QB Gardner Minshew

Quarterbacks who play with a belligerent resiliency to their game have given the Falcons a lot of trouble this year, and Minshew is among that lot. There’s no reason to believe Minshew can’t do what Baker Mayfield, Josh Dobbs or Kyler Murray did if given the opportunity late in the game.

Week 17 – at Chicago Bears (5-9)

Last three games:

- Week 13: Bye

- Week 14: Win vs Detroit (28-13)

- Week 15: Loss at Cleveland (20-17)

Tweet-length summary of Bears in Week 15:

Best offensive player in Week 15: LG Teven Jenkins

The Bears’ offense didn’t have the easiest go of it in Week 15, but, then again, few teams have had success against Cleveland’s excellent defense. Jenkins earned this spot last week, and he does so again after another solid game. He’s been good for Chicago over his first three seasons, and he’s been a bit more consistent in pass protection this year.

Best defensive player in Week 15: DE Montez Sweat

Like Jenkins, Sweat earns a spot here for the second straight week. And when I say he earned it, the man EARNED IT. Sweat added another 2.5 sacks to his resume, giving him 12.5 on the season. Six of those sacks have come in the last four games, so he is certifiably on fire at this point. The Falcons were reportedly very close to getting Sweat at the trade deadline, and they might be in a different spot if they had. He’s been that good.

Team stat to know: Chicago has the worst red-zone defense in the league this season.

X-factor for the Bears in Week 17: WR D.J. Moore

Moore is currently eighth among NFL receivers with 1,123 yards this season, and he’s scored a total of eight touchdowns for the Bears. Moore is the type of physical run-after-catch player who could give Atlanta’s man-heavy secondary trouble if its tackling isn’t on point. He’s a threat anywhere on the field, and he’s undoubtedly Justin Fields’s go-to receiver.

Week 18 – New Orleans Saints (7-7)

Last three games:

- Week 13: Loss vs Detroit (33-28)

- Week 14: Win vs Carolina (28-6)

- Week 15: Win vs New York Giants (24-6)

Tweet-length summary of Saints in Week 15:

Derek Carr had three touchdown passes, including one to Jimmy Graham before Graham had to leave to attend his early bird supper. New Orleans’ defense held the Giants under 200 total yards, and the Saints dominated pretty much every category in this game. [throws laptop out the window]

Best offensive player in Week 15: QB Derek Carr

The life of an NFL quarterback must be so weird. Carr has been booed passionately by the Saints’ faithful for weeks now, including while running out of the tunnel during the intros of Sunday’s game, and he delivers to those same people one of the best performances of the weekend by a quarterback. Carr was 23-of-28 for 218 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Best defensive player in Week 15: DE Tanoh Kpassagnon

Raise your hand if you knew that Kpassagnon was a player in the NFL. Keep your hand raised if you knew he was a member of the New Orleans Saints. Finally, keep your hand raised if you knew Kpassagnon was in his seventh NFL season. Okay, we’ve identified all of the Saints (and maybe Chiefs) fans on this blog, respond appropriately.

In all seriousness, I’ve been covering this league in a professional capacity since 2017, the same year Kpassagnon entered the league as a second-round pick for Kansas City. He’s somehow passed under my radar until now, but no longer. He had his best games of the season against New York, recording three sacks and six pressures.

Team stat to know: The Saints have allowed the eighth-fewest sacks this season.