Written by Merrissa Vault
The Atlanta Falcons soar into week 9 looking to extend their winning streak to three as they face off against the 5-2 Washington Redskins. After a close call two weeks ago against Eli Manning and the New York Giants, the 3-4 Falcons are looking to rise up and split the spear of the NFC East leaders. However, Matt Ryan and the birds will have their work cut out for them when they step onto FedEx Field on Sunday.
Running Back, Adrian Peterson and the Washington Redskins offense has become the Cinderella story of the league reviving their offense from a perpetual slumber. The 7x Pro Bowler was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after he rushed for 149 yards against the Giants in Week 8. Peterson known for size, speed, and physicality continues to exceed expectations as he sits fifth in the league in rushing yards.
On the flip side, the Washington run defense is one of the front-runners within the NFL only allowing 80 yards per game. Although Saquon Barkley was able to capture 111 total yards in week 7, Ryan Kerrigan and the defense made Eli Manning quite acquainted with the ground last week recording 7 sacks.
The Redskins added more arsenal to their armory by acquiring Safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from the Green Bay Packers.
“The front office pulled the trigger and got him in here,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. Now it’s our job to get him acclimated to the defense and add him to the mix of a good safety group.”
The Redskins appear to be holding a double-edged sword in their last few appearances and it is anticipated by most that a big part of the Falcon’s focus will be slowing the charge of Peterson.
In the Falcon’s last game, the defensive front was able to hold running back, Saquon Barkley, to 43 yards rushing, his second-lowest total of the season. Head Coach Dan Quinn was awaiting this moment from his team.
“I thought there was a good example that I would like to point out tonight. It was in the fourth quarter and we had kicked a 50-yard field goal. We came back, and the defense went three and out. On the ensuing drive, nine plays, and a touchdown drive capped off by Tevin [Coleman] to make the game 20-6. Those are the moments that we have been searching for to make sure when they come, one group gives it the next and they pass it and keep going.”
With this in mind, Matt Ryan will look to test the Redskin’s aerial coverage with his highly coveted receivers in Julio Jones, Marvin Hall, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu.
Josh Norman weighed in on the match-ups at hand.
“All those guys, they are phenomenal. They want to go deep and they want to go deep often…Execution has to be at its all-time highest …. Playing against Julio, it’s always a special match.”
Julio Jones, namely one of the most entertaining receivers in the NFL led the team with nine catches for 104 yards against the Giants. The Wide Receiver continues to build his case as one of the best to ever play as he is 134 yards away from recording 10,000 yards in his career and the fastest receiver in NFL history to reach that milestone with 101 career games. Matt Ryan will seek out Jones as often as he can but has a broad lens of the field when it comes to moving the chain. In Week 7, Matt Ryan converted 31-of-39 passes for 379 yards connecting with 10 different receivers. Ryan has set a franchise record 203 attempts without an interception and is currently leading the NFL this season with 2,335 passing yards.
With the last ranked rushing attack in the league facing the 2nd ranked rush defense in the NFL, behind only the New Orleans Saints, expect the Falcons and their top 10 passing offense to air it out against the NFC East leading Redskins. The Falcons will look to continue their winning ways and get back in the divisional race as they travel to the Nation’s Capital to take on Washington.