Buffalo Bills vs Atlanta Falcons Preview

Buffalo Bills vs Atlanta Falcons Preview

Football

Buffalo Bills vs Atlanta Falcons Preview

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The Buffalo Bills are coming off a huge divisional game over the New England Patriots to launch them back into first place in the AFC East and keep their playoff hopes alive. This week, they will be taking on the Atlanta Falcons who are also coming off a 20-16 win over the Detroit Lions. There will be a few key things to watch for in this game.

After Sunday’s game the Bills showed that they have the receiver depth as Isaiah McKenzie stepped up in the absence of Cole Beasley and went on to have a 125 receiving yard game. With McKenzie playing in the slot he could be covered by safety Richie Grant that the Falcons have defending that spot. On the season when targeted, Grant has allowed a 69.2% completion percentage. Yet as of Tuesday, December 28, Grant was placed on the COVID-19 list leaving it unknown at the moment who will be covering the slot for the Falcons. McKenzie has shown he can be productive on the offense, with the new COVID-19 protocols Beasley was able to come off the list so offensive coordinator Brian Daboll could rotate between these two. One thing that is for sure is that Stefon Diggs will be guarded by A.J. Terrell. Terrell has been a bright spot on this Falcons defense allowing only 37 completions for 362 yards, three touchdowns, and has 14 defended passes. The one thing this Bills offense has also been doing more lately is getting Devin Singletary more involved in the passing game. Singletary has provided a quick underneath option for Josh Allen to target, on the season Singletary has 38 receptions and has had 12 of them over the last three weeks for 86 yards.

As mentioned before, over the last few weeks Allen has started to really take what the defense gave him. In the latest game against the Patriots, they were more focused on covering downfield and Allen instead of trying to force the throws ended up throwing short passes 22 times out of his 47 total attempts. Behind an offensive line that was shuffled due to Covid issues had to deal with the Patriots blitzing 14 times, and pressuring 15 times yet Allen took zero sacks due in part to his rushing ability where he ran 12 times for 64 yards. The Falcons defense has blitzed 138 times but has the least amount of sacks with 16 and the lowest pressure percentage in the NFL 16.5%. The two players on defense that have the most sacks on the team are linebackers Foyesade Oluokun and Deion Jones who both have two.

On the other defensive front the Bills have a league-high quarterback hurries with 81, and the highest pressure percentage with 28.5%. The Falcons offensive line has allowed pressure on Matt Ryan, the third-most in the NFL with 27.4%. A majority of the pressure has come from their left guard position where Jalen Mayfield is. Mayfield will be having to defend against either Ed Oliver or Efe Obada. Oliver leads the team in quarterback knockdowns with eight, while Obada is close behind him with five. Despite how much Ryan has been pressured he still has thrown for 3,555 yards and 19 touchdowns. Ryan has done so with his top target in tight end Kyle Pitts. The rookie leads the Falcons in targets (101) and in yards with 949, of those 695 yards have come before contact due to his separation skills. 

Like the Bills, the Falcons are a pass-first team as they have passed the ball 517 times compared to 359 rush attempts. The strength of the Bills defense is their passing portion as they have allowed the fewest amount of yards per game with 173.1. The Bills are coming off a game where they just held Patriots quarterback to only 145 yards and intercepted him two times. On the other hand, the Bills run defense did allow 103 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Damien Harris. The Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson could do the same as he has put up 579 rushing yards, with 281 yards coming after contact. Over the last two weeks though he has only put up 32 yards and has seen a reduced role in the passing game. If the Falcons want any production offensively against the Bills defense they will have to get Patterson more involved.

Record wise the Falcons have only beat one team over .500 this year. The Bills create multiple mismatches for the Falcons and will have trouble slowing down Allen as the Bills go on to secure a 33-10 win.

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