The Atlanta Falcons (3-3) will travel to Cincinnati this Sunday to take on the Cincinnati Bengals (3-3) in Paycor Stadium at 1 p.m. EST. Both teams are looking to continue their playoff push, who will come out on top and continue their hot streak?
ATLANTA FALCONS AND CINCINATTI BENGALS TEAM PREVIEW
The Bengals are coming off a nice 30-26 win over the New Orleans Saints and will look to build off this comeback win this week.
READ MORE: Atlanta Falcons Playoff Contenders or Pretenders?
The Bengals offense, led by Joe Burrow, started the season slowly but have really picked it up over the past few weeks. As a unit they average 337.7 yards of total offense a game; 248.7 passing yards per game and 89 rushing yards per game.
Running back Joe Mixon, who is a sort of boom or bust type running back, hasn’t been anything special, rushing the ball 104 times for 347 yards and one touchdown.
Ja’Marr Chase, who is one of the NFL’s top receivers, has backed up his impressive rookie season good start to his second year, hauling in 39 receptions for 475 yards and four touchdowns. Tee Higgins, who was battling injuries early in the season, has been very good, catching 26 passes for 362 yards and two touchdowns.
The offensive line hasn’t improved very much, according to Pro Football Network the Bengals have a tier 3 offensive line.
Defensively the Bengals have been solid; not terrible but also not elite by any means. So far this season, the Bengals have had a middle of the pack defense. As a unit they give up 339 total yards of offense a game; 218 passing yards per game and 121 rushing yards per game.
The Falcons, coming off a very impressive 28-14 win over the San Francisco 49ers will look to continue their improbable playoff push.
Offensively, the Falcons continue to shock the world.
As a unit they average 324.3 yards per game; 159.2 passing yards per game and 165.2 rushing yards per game. Their 24.3-points per game is good for ninth in the NFL.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota, coming off one of his best games in his career, has completed 61.3% of his passes for 1,055 yards and six touchdowns for a total QBR of 59.2.
The backfield of Tyler Allgeier, Caleb Huntley, Avery Williams, and sometimes Mariota has been excellent, last week against the top run defense they ran the ball 40 times for 168 yards and a touchdown.
The receiving core has been underwhelming these past few weeks. Drake London, who started the year off hot has cooled down, hauling in 25 catches for 306 yards and two touchdowns, but just nine catches for 92 yards in the Falcons’ last-three games.
Tight end Kyle Pitts, who finally had his first touchdown in America last game, has been very disappointing, catching 13 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown.
The offensive line continues to play great, according to Pro Football Network the Falcons have a tier 2 offensive line.
The defense, although it hasn’t put up the best numbers, hasn’t been terrible. Led by the talented secondary of A.J. Terrell, Casey Hayward, and Richie Grant, the run stopping and pass rushing of Grady Jarrett, Arnold Ebiketie, and the gap filling and run stopping of linebacker Mykal Walker, Rashaan Evans, and Troy Anderson, this unit has been a bend but don’t break type of unit.
They give up 385.2 yards of total offense a game; 281.2 passing yards per game and 104 rushing yards per game. The pass rush, while improved over last season is still 30th in the NFL with eight sacks so far.
The turnover numbers have also been very good this season with six interceptions and four-forced fumbles.
The Falcons come into this game as 6.5-point underdogs, this is the 7th consecutive week the Falcons are underdogs.
The Falcons come into this game a little banged up. Once again they’ll be without Cordarrelle Patterson, who was put on IR due to a knee injury. They’ll also be without cornerback Casey Hayward, who was put on IR this week due to a shoulder injury. In the latest injury report, the Falcons listed Walker, Terrell, Ta’Quon Graham, and Ade Ogundeji as limited participants and Dee Alford and Jared Bernhardt as non participants.
Offensively, the Falcons are going to continue to run the ball as they’ve done all season. They should be able to do it effectively as the Bengals are not a very good run defense, giving up 121 rushing yards per game. The backfield of Tyler Allgeier, Caleb Huntley, and Avery Williams has played well in the absence of Cordarrelle Patterson and will look to continue to run all over defenses.
Pass catchers London and Pitts have gone quiet the past few weeks, but will look to rebound this week. London will see matchups of Mike Hilton and Eli Apple, it’ll be interesting to see how London performs against these two tough corners. Pitts will most likely be matched up with Jessie Bates. He got his first touchdown of the season last week, and the Falcons hope he can build off his performance against the 49ers.
The offensive line has a tough matchup this week as they are going up against one of the better defensive lines in the league. Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard have been outstanding this season, and DJ Reader is rated the No. 3 defensive lineman by Pro Football Focus.
Defensively the Falcons will have their work cut out for them this week. With Hayward out, players like Dee Alford and Isaiah Oliver will have to step up big time. Terrell will have arguably the toughest matchup in his career going against Chase.
This is the matchup to look out for; All Pro vs All Pro. This game may be decided by who wins this matchup, the Falcons secondary vs the Bengals receiving corps.
Grady Jarrett and company have a relatively favorable matchup this week and should be able to generate pressure. The pass rush has been able to total eight sacks so far this season and will need a big game if the Falcons want to win this one. If the Falcons can get to Burrow, they will win this game.
Offensively, the Bengals are going to continue what they’ve been doing all year which is throw the ball.
Chase, coming off a monster game, faces a tough matchup in Terrell but will look to continue to wreak havoc on opposing defenses. Tee Higgins, who has a favorable matchup this week, will look to take advantage of the undermanned Falcons defense. Look for Higgins to possibly have a monster game.
The offensive line, who haven’t been good, are facing an easier match up in the Falcons, but every week is tough for this Bengals line. So far this season, the Bengals have given up 22 sacks. This week they’ll have their work cut out for them as they are facing Grady Jarrett and Company. If the Bengals want to win, they have to protect Burrow.
Defensively the Bengals will have to focus on stopping the run. The secondary should be able to contain the receiving core of Pitts and London, but they’ll still need to be on their A game.
The biggest factor this week for the Bengals on the defensive side is the front seven. If the Bengals want to win this game, they have to stop the run. The matchup to look out for is the Falcons offensive line vs the Bengals defensive line, as the winner of this matchup will have a big influence on the overall winner of the game.
This game will be a battle of two teams who are pushing for playoff spots. The Falcons should be able to take advantage of the Bengal’s weak run defense and control the clock.
The Bengals should be able to exploit the holes in this Falcons defense with the talents of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Both teams need to have a big game from their offensive and defensive lines if they want to win.
Score Prediction: Bengals 23 Falcons 24