Atlanta at Washington
Time: NOON CT
Spread: WAS -2
Odds c/o Bovada
The Washington Redskins have won its past three and enter Week 9 as 2-point favorites over the visiting Atlanta Falcons. The game will air at Noon (CT) on FOX and has an over/under of 48 points according to NFL oddsmakers at bookmaker Bovada.
Washington most recently has knocked off Carolina, Dallas, and the New York Giants to improve to 5-2. It sits atop the NFC East, with a two-game lead over the 4-4 Philadelphia Eagles. Washington has got it done with defense, and it has been outstanding. The past three wins it limited opponents to just 15.6 points per game. On the season, it is allowing just 19.1 which ranks No. 5 in team defense. It has allowed the team to succeed with what has mostly been a very mediocre offensive attack. Washington ranks No. 25 in scoring, No. 26 in pass offense, and a strong No. 8 in rush offense.
Heading that rush attack has been veteran Adrian Peterson. He has carried 127 of the team’s 210 attempts, and he has 587 yards and four TDs. Alex Smith ranks No. 3 on the team in rushing from the quarterback position, but he manages just 3.6 yards-per-carry and he has fumbled three times already. Smith has thrown 63.2 percent for completion and has 1,561 yards on the season.
Smith has eight TD passes and two interceptions while having been sacked 13 times for a loss of 72 yards. His passer rating is 91.3. Smith’s top receiving targets have been Jordan Reed, Paul Richardson, and Chris Thompson. All have 200 yards or better on the season, with Reed leading the way at 306 yards. The team still has just eight passing touchdowns, and it has six via the rush. Again, it is not the offense that has rendered Washington so successful thus far, but it has been its defense. That is largely the reason for a relatively low over/under of 48 points.
The Atlanta Falcons are 3-4 and in third place in the NFC South. It rides a two-game win streak into this matchup, having knocked off Tampa Bay and the New York Giants the past two weeks. Even so, the Falcons have a negative point differential of -3.2 and it is mostly because the team is abysmal on the defensive end. Atlanta ranks third-to-worst in team defense, surrendering 30-plus points per game which is hardly enough considering its No. 11 ranked offense generates 27.1, and not much more can be asked of it production-wise. The defense has to improve.
Matt Ryan has thrown 71.1 percent for completion for 2,335 yards on the season while boasting a very respectable 8.9 yards-per-attempt. He has 15 TD passes and just two interceptions and is good for passer rating of 114.2. Julio Jones has over twice as many yards receiving as any other Falcon, with 812 yards and nine catches for 20-yards or more. Amazingly, he has not scored a touchdown.
\Calvin Ridley has six TDs and 392 yards. The Falcons also have Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper over 300 receiving yards on the season. It all seems to add up to a great offense, and it nearly does. The rush attack, though, is really weak with just 3.7 yards-per-attempt and its leading rusher Tevin Coleman averaging just 3.8 yards-per-rush no his 82 attempts. Ito Smith leads the team with three rushing TDs, but the only successful rusher on a per-attempt basis has been Devonta Freeman, who has rushed 14 times for 68 yards on the year.
Atlanta must find a way to get more from its backfield, but it is really hard to sling much of the blame for this team’s shortcomings on its offense. The defense is putrid, and it is not giving Ryan and company a chance because it requires 30-plus points to win.