The Atlanta Falcons (4-4) will be at home this week to take on the Los Angeles Chargers (4-3) in Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 1 p.m. EST. Two teams trying to make a push for the playoffs, who will come out on top?
The Chargers are fresh off their bye week and will look to put their relatively disappointing start behind them this week.
Their offense, led by quarterback Justin Herbert, has been very good this season. As a unit they average 368.3 yards of total offense a game; 279.4 passing yards per game and 88.9 rushing yards per game.
Herbert has played phenomenal this season, completing 65.9% of his passes for 2,009 yards and 12 touchdowns for a total QBR of 55.6.
Running back Austin Ekeler has continued to be an offensive threat, rushing the ball for 384 yards and five touchdowns while also catching 53 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen, who will now be the main receiver threat due to the Mike Williams injury, hasn’t shown much this season as he’s also been dealing with an injury, he’s caught six passes for 77 yards.
The offensive line hasn’t been anything special, according to Pro Football Network they are a tier three offensive line.
Defensively, the Chargers haven’t played up to their expectations. As a unit they give up 357.6 total yards of offense a game; 220 passing yards per game and 137.6 rushing yards per game.
The Falcons, coming off a stressful 37-34 win over the Carolina Panthers, will look to continue their hot streak and get another win this week.
Offensively, the Falcons have played very well. As a unit they average 320.8 total yards of offense a game; 162.6 passing yards per game and 158.1 rushing yards per game. Their 25.0 points per game is good for 6th in the NFL.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota has accounted well for himself in his second chance as a starter. He’s completed 62.9% of his passes for 1,432 yards and 10 touchdowns for a total QBR of 61.4.
The backfield of Huntely and Allgeier continues to play great. Last week they rushed the ball 37 times for 167 yards. The Falcons could get a boost from the return of Cordarrelle Patterson who was back at practice this week.
Wide receiver Drake London has been held under 50 yards and without a touchdown each of the last five games. On the season he has 30 receptions for 346 yards and two touchdowns.
Tight end Kyle Pitts is becoming a bigger part of the offense has hauled in 21 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns.
The offensive line continues to impress. According to Pro Football Network they are a tier 2 offensive line.
Defensively, the Falcons have not been good at all. As a unit they give up 415.8 yards of total offense a game; 306.9 passing yards per game and 108.9 rushing yards per game. That’s 31st in the NFL.
The Falcons come into this game as 3.5 point underdogs, the one week of being the favorite is gone. The Falcons were favored over the Panthers, but have been underdogs in all eight of their other games.
The Falcons come into this game a little banged up. Obviously they’ll be without cornerback Casey Hayward, who was put on IR a few weeks ago. They could also be without cornerback A.J. Terrell and guard Eli Wilkinson, who were both listed as DNPs on the latest injury report.
Another interesting thing to note is Patterson was designated to return to practice this week. Patterson returning to practice on Wednesday isn’t a guarantee that he’ll be available and ready to face the Chargers this week, though if the team decides he is good to go, that is a possibility.
Going into this game, the Falcons are gonna do what they have been doing all season… run the ball. They should be able to do it very effectively as the Chargers are one of the league’s worst run defenses. With Patterson possibly coming back, the backfield could be in for another big-time performance.
Hopefully we continue to see Mariota throw the ball a little more, as he’s been doing the past few weeks. London and Pitts will have to continue to show that they can be threats in order to help open up the running game.
London will see matchups of Asante Samuel Jr. and Nassir Adderly, these are two tough matchups for the rookie.
Pitts will mainly be matched up against Derwin James. This is the matchup to look out for, two of the top players at their position. Pitts had 80-yards receiving last week after having only 53 yards the three previous weeks… combined.
The offensive line is facing a relatively favorable matchup this week. They should be able to give Mariota time and open up holes for the running backs. The Chargers are 27th in the NFL against the run.
They are facing the talented Khalil Mack, who can have a big time performance against anybody, so the Falcons will have to make sure that he is contained.
Defensively, the Falcons are gonna have their work cut out for them this week. With Terrell possibly being out for the second week in a row, Atlanta may have to count on the newly acquired corner Rashad Fenton.
Grady Jarrett and company are facing a solid offensive line this week. Jarrett is playing at a Pro Bowl level and Ta’Quon Graham has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. The Chargers pass first in their offense and pressuring Herbert will be key.
Offensively, the Chargers are going to continue to feed Ekeler the ball. He has been dominant these past few weeks and he could be in for another big time performance this week.
With Terrell possibly being out, they’ll also look to feed Keenan Allen if he’s healthy. If he’s not Ekeler will play an even bigger role in the passing game. He had 12 catches out of the backfield last week against the Seahawks.
The offensive line, who hasn’t been anything special, is facing a relatively tough matchup. However they’ve only given up ten sacks, a testament to how hard Herbert is to sack more than an indication of their offensive line play.
Defensively, the Chargers have to focus on stopping the run. They’ve been one of the league’s worst run defenses, giving up 137.6 rushing yards per game. The Chargers front seven has to have a big time performance this week.
If they allow the Falcons to run the ball and control the clock, Herbert and the offense will not be able to see the field and put up any points. The secondary is also facing tough matchups in Pitts and London who have proven they can make plays.
This matchup will determine the winner of the game: The Falcons offense vs the Chargers Defense.
This game should be very interesting, two teams battling to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Falcons should be able to continue to dominate defenses with their rushing attack this week. They’ll also need to be able to string together a few stops defensively. The Chargers should be able to take advantage of the Falcons weak and undermanned defensive secondary and could be in for an offensive explosion.
Score Prediction: Chargers 27 Falcons 23