Who: Atlanta Falcons (2-9)
When: Sunday December 1, 4:05 PM EST
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, NY
The Line: Buffalo (-3.5)
Buffalo Bills Offense vs. Falcons Defense
Defensively, the Falcons are really bad at two things: stopping the run and stopping the pass. Which are, like, the only two things to be good or bad at. So not a good ratio, basically.
The biggest issue for the Falcons, aside from the fact that they cannot stop the run, is that they have no pass rush to speak of. Thankfully for them, the Bills are statistically not good at throwing the ball, but since the return of E.J. Manuel a vertical passing game has emerged and should theoretically get better now that his top two options, Robert Woods and Stevie Johnson, are healthy and back in the lineup.
On paper, though, the Bills should be able to get the ground game back on track. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller will get a crack at the No. 29 rushing defense and have found success for the most part this year. Letting them at a bad rush defense could mean gangbusters for the Bills’ running offense on Sunday.
Needless to say, this is a must-win for the Bills. They’re just one game back in the AFC Wild Card race, and they literally have the NFL’s easiest schedule ahead of them. Exploit a bad Falcon defense on Sunday and this should be an easy win. Let them get momentum and keep it a tight game and this could end in heartbreak. Let’s do the former, alright?
Key: Bills’ Running Game vs. Getting Back on Track
Bills Defense vs. Falcons Offense
This, again, should be a matchup that favors the Bills despite the fact that Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ passing game still sits in the top five in the league. Julio Jones is long gone thanks to a season-ending injury, but the passing game keeps moving along even though Roddy White is slowly murdering fantasy teams across the nation.
It’s also impressive that the pass game continues to do so well considering the running game is second-to-last in the league with just 74.7 yards per game. Part of that is the fact that Steven Jackson missed a good chunk of time, but one can’t expect him to be a 100-yard-per-game fixture at this point in his career. He may improve that incrementally but not enough to drag it out of the depths.
The Bills, of course, have arguably the best way to neutralize a strong passing game: a good pass rush. Buffalo has the most sacks in the NFL this year with 37 (though I don’t think NFL.com’s stats page is totally updated) led by Mario Williams and the resurgent defensive line.
Getting to Ryan, rushing his decisions and forcing inaccurate throws will go a long way towards shutting down that passing attack. The Bills’ secondary is also surprisingly deep now that everyone is healthy. The defense can dictate the way this goes early depending on how they handle the passing game.
Key: Pass Rush vs. Matty Ice
Matt Ryan will still get 300 yards passing because garbage time exists.
Still, the defense gets him three times.
Both Jackson and Spiller come close to 100 yards rushing.
White finally has a good game statistically before returning to Fantasy murder next week.
Prediction: 27-17, Buffalo