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coleryan
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Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills: Preview and Pick

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On 11/26/2013 08:00 AM in NFL
Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills: Preview and Pick

The Atlanta Falcons have severely struggled to live up to their high expectations this season. They started the season as a team that had a chance to win the Super Bowl and now they are just another team that is playing for a high draft pick. The Buffalo Bills will welcome the Falcons to the cold great white north as they try and get a win as they build towards the future.

Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game have the Bills favored by (-3.5) points. This is just one example of how far the Falcons have fallen. The Falcons have also lost the faith of the betting public. The early returns form the betting window show that over 65 percent of the wagers for this game favor the Bills. The point spread has not moved, but make sure to check the top rated online sportsbooks before placing a wager.

The Falcons fall to 2-9, a far cry from this same point last season when they were 10-1 and tied for the best record in the NFL through 11 games.

The Falcons need to find a way to protect their quarterback if they want to win.

The Saints tied their season high with 5 sacks Thursday night with 4 coming in the second half. The Saints sacked Matt Ryan on 16.0% of his dropbacks in the second half, the highest rate the Falcons have allowed in any half this season. The Saints have 19 sacks in the second half this season, tied for the third-most in the league. The Saints have recorded a sack on 9.0% of opponent dropbacks this season, tied with the Rams for the highest rate in the league. Last season, the Saints recorded a sack on 4.6% of opponent dropbacks, the fourth-lowest in the league.

The latest football betting trends for this game favor the Bills. The Falcons are 1-5 against the spread (ATS) in their last 6 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game, 0-7 ATS in their last 7 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game and 0-5 ATS in the last five road games. The Bills are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 home games, 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a bye week and 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games when playing against a team with a losing road record.

Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of is big game, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
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11/27/2013 01:19 PM
The Buffalo Bills coaching staff isn't surprised by how well the interior defensive line has played this season. With both Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus creating pressure up the middle and playing the run effectively. While most of the attention gets paid to outside pass rushers, linebackers and defensive backs, it's the big guys up the middle who are getting the job done.

"I think years ago when the majority of the football was run to pass ratio, we're starting to see to change a little bit over the past four or five years to a little bit more pass,” head coach Doug Marrone said. ”I always thought schematically you can do things to help yourself with those edge rushers, but inside is tougher."

Marrone cites the mismatches he can create up the middle to create an opportunity for his big guys.

“Depending on what you’re going to do, the center is going to go one way or the other, but that one guard is going to be put one on one quite a bit. I think a lot of it is matchups, but again you have to remember that Kyle Williams is probably one of the best if not one of the better players at his position in the league right now. He’s playing at an extremely high level.”

The Bills look to create a mismatch to keep Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons off rhythm Sunday from Rogers Centre in Toronto.
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11/27/2013 01:19 PM
- Falcons Offense vs. Bills Defense

On the bright side for the offense, this isn’t the difficult weather scenario that a “road” game against Buffalo on December 1st would indicate. In fact, the game isn’t in Buffalo at all, as this one will take place in Toronto inside the Rogers Centre in perfect weather conditions. I’ll save my opinion on the Bills playing “home” games in Toronto, but for the Falcons, it’s a small victory.

Matt Ryan performed fairly well against a stingy Saints defense last week, and this should be no different, given the conditions. Ryan still captains the 6th-best passing offense in the entire league, and while those numbers are lower since Julio Jones exited, it’s still a solid unit when he’s given time to drop back. Buffalo’s pass defense is their strength on that side of the ball (12th in the NFL in passing yards allowed), and that is almost entirely due to what is a solid pass rush including former #1 overall pick Mario Williams.

The running game should have an easier time of it (in theory) this week, as Buffalo enters with the 24th-ranked rushing defense in the league. Steven Jackson looked to be much improved last week (63 yards and a TD), but they’ll need even more from him here in order to keep the Bills from pinning their ears back against the pass. There has been an underground movement to get Antone Smith carries this week (yes, this really exists), but I’d expect to see a steady does of Jackson and not much else in terms of straight-ahead carries.

- Falcons Defense vs. Bills Offense

Well, the Bills don’t really terrify you on this side of the ball. The EJ Manuel-Thad Lewis-Jeff Tuhl trio has combined to form the 27th-ranked passing offense in the league this year, and simply reading those names should indicate why. Manuel, the rookie 1st-rounder from Florida State, was very good in their last game, though, throwing for 245 yards and 2 scores against a solid Jets defense.

In the backfield, the Bills have a strong two-headed monster between CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson, and they account for the league’s 7th-most productive rushing attack. Fantasy owners would likely consider it to be a “lost” season for Spiller (who has 507 rushing yards and only 1 rushing TD), but he’s still a threat to go 80 yards on any play, and Jackson is a perfect compliment as a tough, grinding ball-carrier who actually doubles as the team’s leading rusher.

Buffalo is void of playmakers on the outside, however, and that helps the porous Atlanta pass defense. Stevie Johnson is the best receiver for the Bills (471 yards, 3 TD this season), but he’s been banged-up, including an absence against New York prior to Buffalo’s bye week. Robert Woods is sure-handed on the other side, but if there’s a point of optimism, it’s that this isn’t a big-play offense outside of Spiller.
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11/27/2013 01:20 PM
The Atlanta Falcons have lost eight of their last nine games including the last five in a row. They currently sit at 2-9 on the season and were the first NFC team eliminated from playoff contention. The Bills however, aren’t thinking they can just show up and win on Sunday.

“We know we’re going to get their best,” said Kraig Urbik. ”They’re going to come out firing and they’re a good defense too. You look at the guys up front that they have and they have a really good talented defense so yeah their record might not be where they want it to be, but they’re going to come out firing when they come out to play us.”

“We have to approach like this team was in the NFC championship last year and they were in the game,” said Scott Chandler. ”It was a good game, so they’re a very talented football team and we’ve got to approach it as they’re a good team.”

“If you look at their offense especially, because that’s what I can speak to, they’ve done a lot of great things,” said Arthur Moats. ”With Matt Ryan out there, he’s still making plays, even with them losing Julio and everything like that, Roddy, he’s still out there, you have to always account for him. And their running game, between Steven Jackson and Jacquizz, that’s a really good one-two punch.”
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11/28/2013 10:53 AM
The Atlanta Falcons have gone from posting the NFC's best record last season to the having the NFL's worst, and they're headed toward their highest draft pick since selecting quarterback Matt Ryan in 2008.

Ryan's struggles away from home are a major reason for the team's sub-standard record, and he'll look to help Atlanta end a five-game losing streak Sunday when it faces the Buffalo Bills in Toronto.

The Falcons (2-9) went 13-3 and hosted the NFC championship game in 2012, but they'll finish this season under .500 for the first time since going 4-12 in 2007, leading them to take Ryan with the third overall pick.

Atlanta is tied with Jacksonville and Houston for the NFL's worst mark.

"We are disappointed in the way that we've played through the first 11 ballgames, which I think I've stated many times, too many times," coach Mike Smith said.

That trend continued in last Thursday's 17-13 home loss to New Orleans as the Falcons scored that many points or fewer for the fourth time during the skid. Smith, without mentioning names, eluded to lesser-used players getting a long look as they battle for jobs.

''I think anyone that's on our 53-man roster is going to get an opportunity to play as we move forward,'' Smith said. ''It's going to be based on how they work in practice. It's going to be based on previous games for some of our older players, but it will be an evaluation process that's ongoing, just like always.''

He cautioned not to view that stance as the team giving up, though.

''We're not going to not try to win the football game and just go into a complete evaluation mode,'' Smith said. ''We're going to put the best players out there.

''We're concerned about winning the next game and putting a string together here at the end of the season.''

Ryan has won plenty since arriving in Atlanta, but he's having a down season with 12 interceptions after throwing 14 all of last year. Last week marked the first time he didn't throw a touchdown pass in 19 games, including the playoffs.

The disparity between Ryan's stats at home and on the road has been cause for concern as well. He's completed 72.4 percent of his passes for 10 touchdowns and one interception while posting a 106.2 rating in Atlanta, but he has a 60.5 completion percentage, eight touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 70.2 rating in five road games - all losses.

"I'm not sure why. Obviously, if I knew I'd be better on the road," Ryan said. "It's tough in this league sometimes to go on the road and play well. I don't know what the reason is for it, but certainly I need to be better."

Ryan will try to bounce back against a Buffalo defense that picked off New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith three times in a 34-17 win Nov. 17 before the Bills' bye week.

Jarius Byrd had two of those interceptions and has three in his last two games. His 21 picks since entering the league in 2009 rank second.

''It was just a matter of time. I just had to feel comfortable,'' said Byrd, who missed the first five games with plantar fasciitis in both feet.

The Bills (4-7) ended a three-game losing streak and are anticipating receivers Stevie Johnson (groin) and Robert Woods (ankle) back after resting during the bye.

"I was very happy with the players coming back and their enthusiasm running around," coach Doug Marrone said. "We're at full strength. We don't expect anybody not to be available to us, which is a good sign."

Buffalo still is holding on to slim playoff hopes, though it would have to jump ahead of multiple teams to capture an AFC wild-card spot. It hasn't been to the playoffs since losing to Tennessee in the Music City Miracle in the 1999 season.

"We're always going to have that mentality that we're still in there," linebacker Manny Lawson said. "Until it's clear-cut and we're done, that's our goal."

Marrone is trying to keep his team focused on the task at hand.

"We're playing a good Atlanta Falcon team coming up that has a lot of pride," Marrone said. "I addressed it with the players. I said don't let people pull you out and talk to you about all this other talk. The most important thing is let's just win a game. That's where all our focus should be."

Ryan threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns as the Falcons beat the Bills 31-3 in the most recent meeting Dec. 27, 2009.
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11/29/2013 03:17 PM
- Falcons Offense vs. Bills Defense

On the bright side for the offense, this isn’t the difficult weather scenario that a “road” game against Buffalo on December 1st would indicate. In fact, the game isn’t in Buffalo at all, as this one will take place in Toronto inside the Rogers Centre in perfect weather conditions. I’ll save my opinion on the Bills playing “home” games in Toronto, but for the Falcons, it’s a small victory.

Matt Ryan performed fairly well against a stingy Saints defense last week, and this should be no different, given the conditions. Ryan still captains the 6th-best passing offense in the entire league, and while those numbers are lower since Julio Jones exited, it’s still a solid unit when he’s given time to drop back. Buffalo’s pass defense is their strength on that side of the ball (12th in the NFL in passing yards allowed), and that is almost entirely due to what is a solid pass rush including former #1 overall pick Mario Williams.

The running game should have an easier time of it (in theory) this week, as Buffalo enters with the 24th-ranked rushing defense in the league. Steven Jackson looked to be much improved last week (63 yards and a TD), but they’ll need even more from him here in order to keep the Bills from pinning their ears back against the pass. There has been an underground movement to get Antone Smith carries this week (yes, this really exists), but I’d expect to see a steady does of Jackson and not much else in terms of straight-ahead carries.

- Falcons Defense vs. Bills Offense

Well, the Bills don’t really terrify you on this side of the ball. The EJ Manuel-Thad Lewis-Jeff Tuhl trio has combined to form the 27th-ranked passing offense in the league this year, and simply reading those names should indicate why. Manuel, the rookie 1st-rounder from Florida State, was very good in their last game, though, throwing for 245 yards and 2 scores against a solid Jets defense.

In the backfield, the Bills have a strong two-headed monster between CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson, and they account for the league’s 7th-most productive rushing attack. Fantasy owners would likely consider it to be a “lost” season for Spiller (who has 507 rushing yards and only 1 rushing TD), but he’s still a threat to go 80 yards on any play, and Jackson is a perfect compliment as a tough, grinding ball-carrier who actually doubles as the team’s leading rusher.

Buffalo is void of playmakers on the outside, however, and that helps the porous Atlanta pass defense. Stevie Johnson is the best receiver for the Bills (471 yards, 3 TD this season), but he’s been banged-up, including an absence against New York prior to Buffalo’s bye week. Robert Woods is sure-handed on the other side, but if there’s a point of optimism, it’s that this isn’t a big-play offense outside of Spiller.
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11/30/2013 05:55 PM
The Falcons will head for Canada with a slew of questionable players. Linebacker Akeem Dent (ankle), tight end Tony Gonzalez (toe), defensive end Malliciah Goodman (calf), safety Zeke Motta (hand) and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (shoulder, knee) all drew that designation, with Gonzalez expected to play after practicing the whole week.

Wide receiver Stevie Johnson (groin) should play for Buffalo, but defensive tackle Kyle Williams (back) is questionable.
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