After coming away with a narrow loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons now have their sights set on getting back on track in their Week 16 road matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
Not much has gone the Falcons’ way as of late. They have dropped three straight games, and all of these losses came via a one-score mark. Fortunately for Atlanta, no other team in the NFC South has managed to run away with the division. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers do hold the top spot in the division, although they are two games under the .500 mark.
The Falcons are still in the NFC South race, and if they win their remaining three contests in regular season play, head coach Arthur Smith and company could end up celebrating a division title in the coming month.
First up for Atlanta is Baltimore, and for the NFC South side to secure a pivotal road win in Week 16, it must achieve each of these three feats.
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3. Falcons once again rush for 200-plus yards
The Falcons turned to a one-two punch of Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson to lead the offense in the divisional clash with the Saints. The two running backs combined for 191 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in the contest. More so, Atlanta upped its rushing yards per game average to a 164.1 mark, which ranks third in the NFL.
The Falcons will have a notable test coming up against a Ravens defense that ranks third in rushing yards allowed per game with an 85.6 average. The Ravens’ stout front seven boasts multiple well-rounded tacklers, including Roquan Smith.
The Falcons’ wide zone run scheme should cause plenty of problems for Baltimore. Allgeier and Patterson continue to showcase that they can blossom as downfield runners, and the two have what it takes to help Atlanta tally at least 200 yards on the ground for the second consecutive contest.
In the big picture, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is well aware of just how much of a challenge it will be for his front seven to slow down the Falcons’ rush attack in Week 16.
“Yes, they’re downhill,” Harbaugh said during a press conference on Tuesday. “They run the wide zone play. They’re kind of along the lines of the Tennessee Titans. Coach [Arthur] Smith was in that system; that’s kind of the system he grew up in.
“They’ll run the wide zone, they’ll run the play action off of that, they’ll run the boots off of that. [The] drop back passing game is timing; get the ball out quick. Then they have their mixer runs off of that, but that’s where it starts.”
For Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, there is plenty that stands out to him about the Falcons’ running game.
“Yes, they have some great runners, they run hard, they’re really physical, [and] up front, they’re physical, as well,” Madubuike said during a press conference on Tuesday. “So, it’s a good challenge for us as a defense to test our will and definitely get that taste out of our mouth from last week. We all wanted to win, but we came up short, so we’re just trying to get back to the drawing board and just get better in practice.”
2. Falcons turn around their third down woes
The Falcons have had a difficult time picking up much-needed stops on third downs this season. Their 47.3 third down conversion percentage allowed mark is the third worst in all of the NFL this year.
Fortunately for A.J. Terrell and company, they will meet a Ravens team that has struggled quite a bit as of late in extending drives via key third down conversions. In Lamar Jackson’s absence in the past two matchups, Baltimore has converted 36 percent of its third downs, as the Tyler Huntley-led offense has been as predictable as could be due to the lack of assertiveness to open up the passing game.
The Falcons defense should get the last laugh over the Ravens offense on third downs in Week 16, which could then go a long way for the unit at this stage in the campaign.
1. Falcons pull off a shocker with a win over the Ravens
The Falcons are in desperate need of a victory against Baltimore to remain in the NFC South race. They should go on to notch a win over the Ravens, and they sure will also be scoreboard-watching in Week 16 with the hope that the Buccaneers, Saints, and Carolina Panthers all come away with losses.