The Atlanta Falcons have a golden opportunity to establish a physical identity with a win in their upcoming Week 4 matchup against the Cleveland Browns.
Entering town is a Browns team who put together an impressive smashmouth 29-17 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Leading the charge was their entire offensive line, who were on a mission to destroy all night long.
With 171 total rushing yards against one of the NFL’s best defenses, the Browns are a formidable team regardless of who is under center.
Speaking of their quarterback, Jacoby Brissett played well – as he and wide receiver Amari Cooper connected seven times for 101 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons will have their hands full this Sunday, but there are a few ways that they can outplay the Browns.
The Falcons must maximize their own formidable rushing attack.
Statistically, the Cleveland Browns have the NFL’s best rushing attack and best running back in Nick Chubb. However, the Atlanta Falcons are hot on their heels in that regard. More specifically, since Cordarrelle Patterson has taken over RB1 duties – the team has benefited greatly.
His performance last week earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week Honors – the first time he has earned the award in his 10-year career. Unfortunately, as Sunday approaches, he is dealing with a knee injury that officially marks his status as ‘questionable.’ But, assuming he plays, his unit may have another leg up on the competition.
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett will be a game-time decision on Sunday.
After a car accident earlier this week, the Browns’ defensive star is officially a game-time decision for Sunday’s matchup. Garrett considers the crash a ‘wake-up’ call despite no major injuries after the incident.
His absence would alleviate the pressure off the team’s offensive line, which is still looking to gel in pass protection.
In addition, it may enable the promising second-year tight end, Kyle Pitts, to be more of a factor in the receiving game rather than taking on blocking responsibilities.
Moreover, it will give promising rookie receiver Drake London a little more time to work his magic in the redzone.
Grady Jarrett must continue his elite play this week.
If defensive tackle Grady Jarrett keeps playing as he did last Sunday – it will free up opportunities for his teammates.
Jarrett had a monster performance as he racked up three tackles for loss and one sack in the team’s Week 3 win against the Seahawks. According to defensive coordinator Dean Pees, however, he will be up against one of the NFL’s best lines and running back duos.
Grady can’t take on the entire Browns offensive line alone, but it should allow players at the second level to make plays with him being focused on the run game.
All in all, this is a winnable contest for the Falcons, and more importantly – it is a matchup where they can establish their identity in all phases of the team. It starts with the trenches and being the more physical team on both sides of the football – something that the Cleveland Browns do not shy away from.