The Atlanta Falcons (1-2) will be back home this week from their two-week west coast road trip to take on the Cleveland Browns (2-1) in Mercedes Benz Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m. EST. Both teams coming off wins will look to continue that momentum and add on to their win streak.
The Browns, coming off a 29-17 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, will look to continue their strong start to the season and try to stay on pace with the top AFC teams.
The Browns offense, led by veteran Jacoby Brissett, has been very solid throughout the first three games. Statistically, in terms of total yards, the Browns are ranked in the top 5. As a unit they have averaged 378 total yards of offense; 188 passing yards per game and 190 rushing yards per game.
Brissett has been surprisingly good for the Browns, completing 66% of his passes for 596 yards and 4 touchdowns with a rating of 94.3, good for 10th in the NFL.
The backfield of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt has been the best rushing attack in the NFL so far, Nick Chubb has 62 carries for 341 yards and 4 touchdowns, and Kareem Hunt has 36 carries for 151 yards and one touchdown.
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New acquisition Amari Cooper, who was traded from Dallas during the offseason, has been very good for the Browns, totaling 19 catches for 219 yards and two touchdowns.
The offensive line has been phenomenal for the Browns so far, they were ranked as the number one offensive line according to Sharp Football Analysis.
Defensively, the Browns don’t have much talent outside of Denzel Ward and Myles Garrett. As a unit they haven’t been anything special, giving up 323 passing yards per game and 84 rushing yards per game.
The Falcons, coming off their 27-23 win against the Seattle Seahawks, will look to start stacking wins and knock off one of the top AFC teams.
Offensively the Falcons have been very good to start the season. Marcus Mariota has taken the Falcons on an emotional rollercoaster this season with his late game turnovers, but he’s got a QBR of 55.9, good for 12th in the NFL.
The two bright spots of the offense this season have been running back Cordarrelle Patterson and rookie wide receiver Drake London. Cordarrelle Patterson has been phenomenal this season so far, totaling 49 carries for 302 yards and two touchdowns.
Drake London, who has been the Offensive Rookie of the Year so far in my opinion, has been Atlanta’s best pass catcher, hauling in 16 catches for 214 yards and two touchdowns.
The offensive line has made huge improvements over last season; PFF has them ranked as the 14th best unit in the league.
Kyle Pitts finally got involved last week after his disappointing first two weeks, on the season he has 9 catches for 125 yards.
Defensively the Falcons have not been very good. As a unit they are giving up 271.3 passing yards per game and 109.3 rushing yards per game. The pass rush has been ok, totaling 6 sacks. They’ve generated a solid amount of turnovers, with 3 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries.
The Falcons come into this game as one-point underdogs against the Cleveland Browns according to My Bookie.
Offensively, the Falcons will most likely try to continue their strong rushing attack. Cordarrelle Patterson has been having a career year, and he should be able to continue that as the Browns front seven, who could be without Myles Garrett, isn’t anything special.
Drake London will look to bounce back from his three catch performance from last week. He’ll be going up against one of the top corners in the league Denzel Ward. London has been able to produce against some of the top defensive backs in the league so far, so he should be used to tough defensive back play.
Hopefully last week was the start of Kyle Pitts being involved in this offense. Pitts will most likely see matchups against safety Grant Delpit or linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. He could also see some matchups against Denzel Ward. Look for Pitts to continue his strong performance from last week and to load up the stat sheet this week.
The offensive line should be able to hold up against the Browns pass rush, especially if Garrett isn’t able to play. As a unit, they have played well above expectations, and with the Browns possibly being undermanned this week they should be able to hold up and give Mariota time.
Expect the Falcons to incorporate the play-action game more this week. The Browns will be anticipating the run, and play action could help London and Pitts see single coverage.
Defensively cornerback AJ Terrell once again will have to face a talented receiver in Amari Cooper. Terrell, who hasn’t been the lockdown corner he was last year, will look to quiet Amari Cooper, who is coming off back to back 100 yard games.
Grady Jarrett and company will have their hands full this week as they are facing one of the top ranked offensive lines. The pass rush has been solid as a unit with six sacks, but they haven’t faced a line this good all year.
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees will have to get creative this week if he wants to create pressure. Expect the Falcons to test out the blitz at points in this game if they can’t get pressure from their base rush.
Linebackers Mykal Walker and Rashaan Evans will also have their work cut out for them as they are facing the NFL’s top rushing offense. Hopefully they can continue their strong starts to the season and help slow down the Browns rushing attack.
For the Browns, the biggest concern for them is the availability of Myles Garrett. Garrett was in a car accident earlier this week and suffered a shoulder and bicep injury. He was released from the hospital but it is still unclear how long he will be sidelined, or if he will be able to suit up Sunday against the Falcons.
Offensively, the Browns are going to continue to try to run the ball. The backfield of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will look to continue to wreak havoc and run all over this Falcons defense.
Amari Cooper will look to continue his hot streak, but he’ll be going up against second-team All-Pro Terrell, so we’ll see if Brissett is able to get him the ball.
Tight end David Njoku should also be involved in the passing game and will see a variety of matchups against linebackers and safeties. He has 13 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown on the season.
Defensively the Browns will have their hands full as they have to face Pitts, Patterson, and London. If Garrett isn’t able to play, the Browns won’t be able to create much pressure and will be in for a long day.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Browns defense lines up against this Falcons offense. Will they load the box and anticipate the run? Or will they drop everyone back to try and stop the pass game?
This game will be a battle of the trenches and whoever makes the least amount of mistakes. The Browns should be able to run all over the Falcons and keep Mariota and the offense off the field. If the Falcons wanna win this game, they have to win the turnover battle and be able to contain Nick Chubb and the run game. In the end, Nick Chubb and the rushing attack will be too much for the Falcons.
Score Prediction: Browns 24 Falcons 20