Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets Preview

Atlanta can ill-afford to drop to 1-4 heading into the bye week. (John Bazemore)

A win versus the New York Jets can build a little bit of momentum heading into the bye week.  (John Bazemore)

For the first time under the current regime, the Atlanta Falcons find themselves two games under .500.

Last week’s 30-23 loss to the New England Patriots put the Falcons on a two-game losing streak, which hasn’t happened since 2009.

With the New York Jets coming to town, Atlanta has a chance to get a win before the bye week.

Atlanta (1-3) has already matched its loss total from last season; they didn’t lose their first game until Week 10.

What it boils down to is the Falcons aren’t winning the one-score games they won last season and are accustomed to winning. The three games they’ve lost have all been by seven points or less.

If the Falcons weren’t struggling mightily in the red zone, they would sport a perfect record. As it stands now, Atlanta has made it into the red zone a league-leading 18 times but have only converted on seven of those trips.

The Jets (2-2) are ranked second in the league in total defense, and that’s even with rookie quarterback Geno Smith under center who has been prone to turning the ball over.

Smith has eleven turnovers (eight interceptions, three lost fumbles) and sports one of the worst passer ratings in the league among starting quarterbacks at 68.6.

In road games, Smith has thrown just one touchdown to five interceptions. On paper, it looks like the Falcons defense, which ranks 26th through the air, is poised to have a big day.

The Jets’ front seven has been dominant, led by rookie Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson. Don’t expect the Falcons, who have struggled to run the ball, to have much success against New York’s fifth-ranked rushing defense.

Although Roddy White has been hampered by a high ankle sprain, the Falcons are the league’s fourth-best passing offense. Julio Jones has picked up the slack, leading the league with 481 receiving yards.

After having a slow start to the season, Tony Gonzalez caught 12 passes for a career-high 149 yards and a couple of touchdowns last week versus the Patriots. 

And of course, the passing offense is orchestrated by Matt Ryan, who has passed for a pair of touchdowns in each game this season. His 1,330 yards are good for third in the league. 

The two teams last met in Week 15 of the 2009 season. Ryan returned from a turf toe injury that sidelined him for two games to lead the Falcons to a 10-7 victory over the Jets in what was then Giants Stadium.

I can’t see Atlanta dropping three in a row, and I definitely can’t see them dropping two in a row at home. The Falcons get the win here and look to nurse some injuries with the upcoming bye week.

Numbers Comparison

Atlanta Falcons:

Points Scored: 23.5 (14th)
Total Offense: 398.5 (7th)
Passing Offense: 316.5 (4th)
Rushing Offense: 82.0 (23rd)

Points Allowed: 26.0 (22nd)
Total Defense: 393.2 (25th)
Passing Defense: 301.0 (26th)
Rushing Defense: 92.2 (6th)

New York Jets:

Points Scored: 17.0 (28th)
Total Offense: 366.2 (12th)
Passing Offense: 243.2 (16th)
Rushing Offense: 123.0 (12th)

Points Allowed: 22.0 (13th)
Total Defense: 283.0 (2nd)
Passing Defense: 203.8 (8th)
Rushing Defense: 79.2 (5th)

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