Falcons face Washington in matchup of 1-2 teams
WASHINGTON (1-2) at ATLANTA (1-2)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, Fox
OPENING LINE: Washington by 1½, according to FanDuel SportsBook.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Washington 0-3, Falcons 1-2.
SERIES RECORD: Washington leads 15-10-1.
LAST MEETING: Falcons beat Washington 38-14 on Nov. 4, 2018 in Landover, Maryland.
LAST WEEK: Washington lost to Bills 43-21; Falcons beat Giants 17-14.
WASHINGTON OFFENSE: OVERALL (20), RUSH (21), PASS (23), SCORING (19t).
WASHINGTON DEFENSE: OVERALL (31), RUSH (25), PASS (29), SCORING (29).
FALCONS OFFENSE: OVERALL (27), RUSH (28), PASS (25), SCORING (29).
FALCONS DEFENSE: OVERALL (19), RUSH (19), PASS (17), SCORING (30).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Washington minus-3; Falcons minus-2.
WASHINGTON PLAYER TO WATCH: DE Chase Young. With the defense underperforming its lofty expectations, a lot of the pressure is on the reigning AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and fellow pass rusher Montez Sweat to create more pressure. Young came into the season talking about trying to break sack records. He didn’t have any in the first three games.
FALCONS PLAYER TO WATCH: Cordarrelle Patterson. The running back who wears No. 84, Patterson is a hybrid player who can make plays all over the field. He’s the team’s second-leaching rusher (21 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD), third-leading receiver (13 catches, 153 yards, 1 TD) and averages 23 yards on kickoff returns. He’s got more yards from scrimmage (238) than anyone on the team, providing a much-needed spark for an offense still trying to find its way.
KEY MATCHUP: Falcons QB Matt Ryan vs. Washington’s front four. Ryan is averaging just 235.7 yards passing per game, far below his numbers from the last decade. He must start hitting some deep throws to soften up defenses, though that may me difficult against a Washington defense eager to turn up the pressure.
KEY INJURIES: Washington All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff got the wind knocked out of him against Buffalo and stayed in the game, but keep an eye on his chest injury. ... WR Curtis Samuel (groin) is eligible to come off injured reserve, though Washington has three weeks to active him. Rookie CB Benjamin St-Juste is in concussion protocol. ... Falcons CB A.J. Terrell returned to practice this week after missing the last game with a concussion. ... WR Russell Gage was still bothered by an ankle injury that kept him out of the victory over the Giants. ... S Erik Harris was dealing with a back issue.
SERIES NOTES: The Falcons have won six straight over Washington, with their last loss coming in 2003. That was also the last time Washington won in Atlanta. ... This will be Washington’s first visit to Mercedes Benz Stadium, which opened in 2017. ... Washington dominated the Falcons through 1993, going 14-3-1 including a 24-7 victory during the 1991 season in the teams’ only playoff meeting. Since 1993, the Falcons have won seven of eight.
STATS AND STUFF: Washington QB Taylor Heinicke grew up in suburban Atlanta and got 10 tickets for family and friends. He also expects a big crowd of students and alumni from Collins Hill High School, which he graduated from in 2011. ... Heinicke threw for two touchdowns, ran for one and had two interceptions against Buffalo. ... The Falcons are the first team Heinicke will face twice. He made his first NFL start against Atlanta in 2018 while with Carolina. ... RB Antonio Gibson had a career-long 73-yard TD catch against the Bills and finished with 104 yards from scrimmage. ... J.D. McKissic ranks second among running backs with 87 catches since the start of last season. ... WR Terry McLaurin has had 60-plus yards receiving in each of the first three games. ... Washington allowed Josh Allen and the Bills to put up 481 yards last week. ... Washington’s opponents are converting on third down 58.7% of the time, ranked second worst in the league. ... LB Cole Holcomb had a team-high 14 tackles in Week 3. ... Falcons WR Calvin Ridley made a team-high eight receptions for 61 yards last weekend, joining Julio Jones as the only players in franchise history to get at least five receptions and 50 receiving yards in 10 consecutive games. ... DE Dante Fowler has a strip-sack in back-to-back games. ... LB Foye Oluokon matched his career high with 14 tackles vs. the Giants. ... LB Deion Jones had his 18th game with double-digit tackles (13) for Atlanta. ... K Younghoe Koo has made 64 of 69 field goal attempts (92.8%) in three seasons with the Falcons.
FANTASY TIP: Falcons TE Kyle Pitts. The No. 4 overall pick is averaging a team-high 12.6 yards per catch, but there’s still a perception the rookie hasn’t lived up to his extensive hype. This might be the week for him to put up huge numbers against a defense that doesn’t really have anyone who can match up with his unique skills.
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